President Donald Trump has ordered a majority of the U.S. military members serving in Somalia to be relocated out of the country, the Pentagon announced Friday.
According to The New York Times, there are roughly 700 American troops currently in Somalia, and the movements are set to occur by Jan. 15.
What are the details?
The Department of Defense explained in a statement that the order does not constitute "a change in U.S. policy," noting that while "some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa," those personnel who remain in the region "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 the country.
The most notorious terrorist group operating out of Somalia is the Al-Qaida-linked organization Al-Shabaab.
As TheBlaze previously reported:
Al-Shabaab is a radical Islamist group that seeks to overthrow the existing government in Somalia and establish one that rules by the dictates of Sharia law. It has also conducted strikes outside of Somali borders, including terror attacks in Kenya and Uganda. The U.S. is allied with the Somali government and has been trying to help it defeat this threat.
ABC News reported Friday that "for weeks there has been speculation that the U.S. military troop presence there might be reduced significantly or fully withdrawn," and "that would have been in line with President Donald Trump's recent decisions to downsize the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Earlier this month, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that U.S. forces stationed in Afghanistan would "be cut by roughly half in Afghanistan to 2,500, and by 500 troops in Iraq to 2,500" by the same Jan. 15, 2021, deadline.
President Trump's decision to move troops out of Somalia was met with mixed reviews from U.S. senators.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), who has endorsed Trump's vows to end America's longstanding foreign military operations, tweeted in reaction to the news, "Thank you @realDonaldTrump for bringing troops home from Africa!"
Thank you @realDonaldTrump for bringing troops home from Africa! Trump orders most American troops to leave So… https://t.co/pdyR2iKnet— Senator Rand Paul (@Senator Rand Paul) 1607126429.0
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tweeted, "This is another big mistake by the Trump Admin. Somalia is entering a fractious election season & Al Shabaab remains a potent force in the country. Hastily withdrawing U.S. troops without a political strategy will have serious consequences for the region."
This is another big mistake by the Trump Admin. Somalia is entering a fractious election season & Al Shabaab remai… https://t.co/yx9guEsufL— Senator Bob Menendez (@Senator Bob Menendez) 1607123113.0