'A few dozen' USA troops deployed to Somalia: Pentagon

'A few dozen' USA troops deployed to Somalia: Pentagon

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US military officials told the Voice of America (VOA) overseas radio broadcast that "dozens" of American soldiers have been deployed to Mogadishu to train and equip Somali and AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) forces fighting the linked al-Shabab militant group in Somalia.

The soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, a light infantry unit trained for air assaults, will mainly train and equip Somalia's army "to better fight Al-Shabab", an Al-Qaeda linked extremist group, the spokeswoman for the US Africa Command based in Germany, Samantha Reho, told AFP.

Somali's president vowed Wednesday that his administration will eradicate the terrorist militant group al-Shabab across Somalia within two years, and he offered its leaders peace talks.

As part of its long-fought shadow war against al-Shabab militants, the US has carried out commando raids and drone assassinations there (with the latter markedly increasing in 2015-2016).

They will also conduct "security force assistance", she said, confirming a report by Voice of America.

The troops arrived in their dozens in Somalia's capital city in early April from the 101st Airborne Division in Ft.

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

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"With the new government there, President Farmajo, we have an opportunity here to move forward", Gen. Thomas Waldauser, the commander of Africa Command told reporters at the Pentagon last month.

"The additional support provided by this authority will help deny al-Shabab safe havens from which it could attack United States citizens or USA interests in the region", CNN quoted U.S. Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, as saying. Eighteen Americans were killed in the incident, memorialized in Black Hawk Down, prompting then president Bill Clinton to order a U.S. withdrawal.

The U.S. military involvement in the country is far from new.

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.

However, the US military typically keeps a small unit of special operations forces in Somalia to support U.S. US special operations forces can move closer to the fight while increasing assistance to Somali forces.

Since then, the U.S. has restricted most of its activities in Somalia to drone and missile attacks against Islamist militants.

  • Kyle Warner