US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, 1st time in decades


16 April, 2017

The United States pulled out of Somalia after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in the capital, Mogadishu, and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets. Meanwhile, fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group have emerged in the northern part of the country.

The US is sending "dozens" of additional troops to Somalia to train and equip the Somali National Army and the forces participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia there.

The deployment was first reported by Voice of America.

Though these will be the first troops officially deployed to Somalia in the fight against al Shabaab, they are not the first U.S. forces in Somalia.

The troop deployment comes after President Donald Trump granted US Africa Command additional authority when conducting air strikes against al Shabaab, though Africa Command made it clear there was no tie between the recent troop deployment and Trump's granting of authority.

"It gives them the tools to help themselves", DeLeon said in an interview with VOA.

More news: U.S. drops 'mother of all bombs' on ISIS caves in Afghanistan

The Pentagon said 40 soldiers from the Fort Campbell, Ky.,-based 101st Airborne Division would be deployed to Somalia to help assist the fledgling central government's armed forces with logistical training and support in its ongoing fight against the terrorist group al-Shabab. The goal of the operation is to build partner capacity while helping to improve the logistics of local forces battling the military group al-Shabab.

A BBC report on this story noted that in 1993, 18 US special forces personnel were killed in the incident dramatized in the American film Black Hawk Down.

However, the USA military typically keeps a small unit of special operations forces in Somalia to support U.S.

The new arrivals from the 101st Airborne Division will not be added to the mission of those Americans now on the ground in Somalia, a military official said, "but there will be some overlap".

A spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command, which handles public affairs for JSOC, referred Foreign Policy to the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) for comment.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy DeLeon, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, said the US team will help instill the professionalism and discipline that the local force can use to create the terms for security. "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare".

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