President Trump ordered a majority of U.S. troops to withdraw from Somalia by early next year, the Pentagon said Friday.
“The U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa. We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach,” the Department of Defense said.
There are approximately 700 troops in the country to assist with the fight against terror group al-Shabaab.
“While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in U.S. policy. We will continue to degrade violent extremist organizations that could threaten our homeland while ensuring we maintain our strategic advantage in great power competition,” the DoD statement continued.
The Pentagon said some of the forces will be relocated to neighboring countries, like Kenya, “to allow cross-border operations by both U.S. and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia” while others could be reassigned outside of East Africa.
“The U.S. will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland,” the Pentagon said.
The move comes after Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced last month the U.S. would be scaling down troops levels to 2,500 in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
“This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government,” Miller said. “I have also spoken with our military commanders and we all will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the intelligence community and diplomatic corps, and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace in troubled lands.”