Monday, May 16, 2022

Biden Approves Plan to Redeploy Ground Forces Into Somalia

Biden Approves Plan to Redeploy several Hundred Ground Forces, capped at around 450, into Somalia. Biden also Signed-Off on targeting about a Dozen Al Shabab Leaders, in the war-torn Country, from Trump's withdrewal of 700 ground Troops in his final weeks in Office.

The Somali Terrorist group is affiliated with Al Qaeda. Since Biden took Office, Airstrikes have largely been limited to those meant to defend Partner Forces facing an immediate threat.

Together, this will revive an Open-Ended American Counterterrorism Operation that has amounted to a slow-burn War through Three Administrations. Biden signed off on the Proposal by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III in early May. In a Statement, Adrienne Watson, the National Security Council Spokeswoman, acknowledged the move, saying it would enable “a more effective fight against Al Shabab.”

“The decision to reintroduce a persistent presence was made to maximize the safety and effectiveness of our forces and enable them to provide more efficient support to our partners,” she said.

The Biden Administration’s strategy in Somalia, is to try to Reduce the Threat from Al Shabab, by suppressing its ability to Plot and carry out complicated Operations. Those include a deadly Attack on an American Air Base at Manda Bay, Kenya, in January 2020.

The Militants of Al Shabab collect Taxes, decide Court Cases, and control the Streets. Somalis ask, will a New Government even matter?

Targeting a small Leadership cadre, especially People who are suspected of playing roles in developing Plots outside Somalia’s Borders or having Special Skills, is aimed at curtailing “the threat to a level that is tolerable.”

Some outside Analysts criticized the move, including Sarah Harrison, a Senior Analyst at the International Crisis Group, who is the Lead Author of an upcoming Report on U.S. Policy in Somalia. The U.S. had been trying to curb Al Shabab using Military Force for 15 years, and it had Not worked, she said; it might have even Prolonged the Conflict.

“Sending in more U.S. troops and honing in on a small number of senior Al Shabab leadership is narrow in its aims and by definition cannot end the broader military fight absent more concerted and effective diplomatic and political efforts by the United States and others,” she said.

Intelligence Officials estimate that Al Shabab has about 5,000 to 10,000 Members; the group, which formally pledged Allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2012, has sought to impose its Extremist version of Islam, on the chaotic Horn of Africa Country.

While Al Shabab mostly Fights inside Somalia and only occasionally attacks neighboring Countries, some Members are said to harbor Ambitions to Strike the U.S. In December 2020, Prosecutors in Manhattan, Charged an accused Shabab Operative from Kenya with Plotting a Sept. 11-style Attack on an American City. He had been Arrested in the Philippines as he trained to fly Planes.

Biden’s Decision followed months of Interagency Deliberations led by the White House’s Top Counterterrorism Adviser, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, over whether to accept the Pentagon Plan, Maintain the status quo, or further reduce Engagement in Somalia. In evaluating those Options, Ms. Sherwood-Randall and other Top Security Officials visited Somalia, and nearby Kenya and Djibouti, both of which host American Forces, in October, 2021.

The Administration’s deliberations about whether and how to more robustly go back into Somalia have been complicated by Political Chaos there, as Factions in its fledgling Government fought each other and Elections were Delayed. But Somalia recently Elected a New Parliament, and over the weekend, Leaders selected a New President, deciding to return to power, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who led the Country from 2012 to 2017.

Intelligence Officials have raised growing Alarm about Al Shabab, over the past several years, as it has Expanded its Territory in Somalia. In its final year in Office, the Obama Administration had deemed Al Shabab to be part of the Armed Conflict the U.S. authorized against the Perpetrators of the Sept. 11 Attacks.

But Trump loosened Controls on Airstrikes there, and the Pentagon significantly escalated American Combat Activity. But shortly before leaving Office, Trump ordered most American Troops to Pull-Out of Somalia, except for a Small Force, that has guarded American Diplomats at a Bunker by the Airport in Mogadishu.

On the First day in Office, the Biden Administration Suspended a Permissive set of Targeting Rules, put in place by the Trump Administration, instead requiring Requests for Strikes, except in Self-Defense, to be routed through the White House. Africa Command also invoked that Exception for Strikes undertaken in the “collective” Self-Defense of Somali Partner Forces.

That pause was supposed to take only a few Months while the Biden Administration reviewed how Targeting Rules had worked under both the Trump and Obama Administrations, and devised its own. But even though it has largely completed a Proposed Replacement, described as a Hybrid between the Two preceding versions, Final Approval of that has Stalled amid competing National Security Policy matters.

The Military, for its part, has tried to continue Training, Advising, and assisting Somali and African Union forces without a Persistent Presence on the Ground, but gradually increased the Length of Shorter stays. During a Visit to Somalia in February, General Townsend warned of the Threat Al Shabab posed to the Region.

“Al Shabab remains Al Qaeda’s largest, wealthiest and most deadly affiliate, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents, including Americans,” he said. “Disrupting Al Shabab’s malign intent requires leadership from Somalis and continued support from Djibouti, Kenya, the U.S. and other members of the international community.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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