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

The U.S. military is sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment to the Horn of Africa country in roughly two decades.

Of late, however, a central government has formed in Mogadishu and has sought to confront the militant members of al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaida, that had gained control of much of the country and was advancing on the capital.

"We are ready to talk to al-Shabab, including its leaders".

The country's new Somali-American president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, last week declared a new offensive against the extremist group.

In one of the attacks on Sunday, the new Commander of the Somali National Army (SNA), Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, escaped a vehicle bomb explosion close to the Defense Ministry where Wednesday's army anniversary commemoration was held. It continues to carry out deadly attacks in the capital, targeting hotels, military facilities and the presidential palace.

"I think it is not a good decision to declare a war in public while you are still in preparation". -Somali military-to-military relations, and advising and assisting Somali troops.

Farmajo and the Somali government have undertaken a number of aggressive military reforms and an aggressive bombing campaign targeting al Shabaab.

Abdirashid Hashi, director of Mogadishu-based research group Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), said the group has always been at war and serious about their insurgence. He has called for the insurgents to come to the negotiation table or risk total defeat within a space of two years.

"For operational security issues, we will not discuss specifics of military efforts nor speculate on potential future activities or operations", she said, declining to say precisely how many troops were being sent. They are poorly equipped, however, and lack regular salaries.

The president also acknowledged that US personnel "occasionally accompany regional forces, including Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, during counterterrorism operations". Last month, the head of the AU mission said Somalia's army has been unable to take charge as expected. The mission is set to withdraw from Somalia by 2020.

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).

  • Fernando Stephens