On the 16th of May 2022, United States President Joe Biden authorised the redeployment of US troops to Somalia. This was a reversal of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from the region in 2021. Previously, in 2021, Donald Trump withdrew US forces from the region. Because of this redeployment, the United States’ forever war, the Global War on Terror, will continue.
The number of US armed forces being sent to Somalia because of this reversal in policy by Joe Biden is roughly 500. The mission of the departing US personnel is to assist Somalian forces in its never-ending fight with a resurgent Al-Shabaab. The US can ill afford another Afghanistan or Iraq. And if Al-Shabaab killed US forces fighting in Somalia, 500 troops could quickly turn into thousands.
Key Judgement 1: It is highly likely that with US troops on the ground in Somalia, the US will result in an increase in drone strikes in Somalia against Al-Shabaab in the next 12 months.
- US drone strikes in Somalia have been steadily increasing over the last decade. With 61 taking place in 2019. (source)
- The US, as recent as the 3rd of June 2022, has carried out drone strikes against Al-Shabaab targets. The US focused this on the western port city of Kismayo and killed five Al-Shabaab fighters. (source)
- As a result of US drone strikes civilian casualties of this war will continue to rise. Which will undoubtedly increase animosity towards US troops. (source)
Key Judgement 2. It is likely that US troops will engage in close contact conflicts with Al-Shabaab as it aims to bring stability to Somalia in the next 12 months.
- The Pentagon has approved the targeting of a dozen Al-Shabaab fighters. Consequently, US Special Operation forces will be the personnel that will work with Somalian troops to carry out operations against these high-ranking members. (source)
- Additionally, the US will focus on working with Somalian troops to reduce the number of Al-Shabaab attacks. Which rose 17% following the previous withdrawal of US troops. (source)
- Engaging in direct conflict with Al-Shabaab is not the mission, but if the US is to succeed in decapitating the leadership of Al-Shabaab and bringing change, it cannot rely on Somali forces, because they have been infiltrated by Al-Shabaab. (source)
Key Judgement 3. It is highly likely that Al-Shabaab will increase its attacks against Somali forces to kill US troops embedded with them in the next 12 months.
- US troops have previously been the target of several attacks by Al-Shabaab, killing US soldiers is seen as paramount to Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist organisations. (source)
- On the 3rd of June 2022, Al-Shabaab ambushed US troops that were embedded with Somali forces. Subsequently, the result of this was a targeted air strike by a US drone. (source)
- Furthermore, as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, American troops on the ground provide terrorist organisations with hard targets. Al-Shabaab is no stranger to threatening attacks against US military personnel. (source)
Intelligence cut off date: 14th June 2022