On Thursday, two US airstrikes in Somalia killed 8 al-Shabaab bomb makers. Al-Shabaab is affiliated with al-Qaeda. The airstrikes were carried out in conjunction with the government of Somalia in the area of Jilib.
“The initial assessment indicates the strike killed terrorists who were known to play important roles in producing explosives for al-Shabaab, to include vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).”AFRICOM statement to American Military News
They later stated that no civilians were killed in the airstrikes, and in addition to the eight terrorists killed, two other members of the terror group were injured.
AFRICOM released footage of the precision strikes against al-Shabaab bomb makers:
The action came after the President ordered most of the 700 US troops out of Somalia. Though that’s what the headlines read, what it really is may be another matter.
“We will continue to apply pressure to the al-Shabaab network. They continue to undermine Somali security, and need to be contained and degraded.
Al-Shabaab remains a dangerous franchise of al-Qaeda. We continue to monitor the threat and support our partners through training and military and diplomatic engagement. This mission illustrates our continuing commitment to eradicating this threat and supporting our Somali partners in the region. We’re repositioning, but we will maintain the ability to strike this enemy.”AFRICOM Commander U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend
Repositioning. That’s a military term used to convey the idea that troops are strategically moving to another place. While headlines continually attempt to make President Trump look like a total idiot with regard to military matters, that is not the case. Repositioning of US forces in Europe was to occur based on the Russian threat, with some troops sent to Poland by an agreement with that government. While both Germany and the left worried that a “drawdown” of troops in Germany was a “disaster,” the movement to Poland (Military Times) was reportedly needed to counter the moves of Russia in the region. The German drawdown of 12,000 troops was a planned redistribution in both Belgium and Italy in addition to Poland.
The Defense Department released a statement on the Somalia repositioning:
The President of the United States has ordered the Department of Defense and the United States Africa Command to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021.
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.
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.
As a result of this decision, some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa. However, the remaining forces will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries in order to allow cross-border operations by both U.S. and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.
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.US Defense Department statement on December 4, 2020
The Al-Shabaab bomb makers will be making no more bombs, thanks to the US airstrikes. But with Biden threatening to undo everything Trump has done, we’ll see how fast they rebuild with more bomb makers and start all over again. Any bets?
Featured photo: screenshot via US AFRICOM, released
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