Acting Defense Minister’s first visit to Somalia amid reports of major team cuts

Miller stayed in the capital, Mogadishu, for only a few hours and met some of the U.S. troops stationed there after leaving the U.S. military facility at the neighboring Djibouti Camp Lemonnier.

While Pentagon officials say the trip is aimed at meeting troops during Thanksgiving, amid reports that the Trump administration is planning to remove nearly all of the roughly 700 U.S. troops currently deployed to support the counter-terrorism campaign in Somalia. a summons that is only the latest in a series of major military movements and troop marches that will take place just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes his oath of office in January.

U.S. Somali troops primarily train local Somali forces and advise al-Qaeda’s largest subsidiary, Al-Shabaab.

The U.S. military is also carrying out air strikes against al-Shabaab and the country’s local ISIS subsidiary, killing the al-Shabaab leader in a targeted strike in September.

The Pentagon has not yet officially announced the Somali team cuts, but defense officials are telling CNN that significant cuts are expected in the coming days.

The proposed cut in support for Somalia’s counter-terrorism campaign comes in the U.S. when the Pentagon’s superintendent warned on Wednesday that Somali forces would be unable to face the threat without U.S. support.

“Despite years of persistent counter-terrorism pressure from Somalia, the United States and internationally, the terrorist threat in East Africa is not deteriorating: Al-Shabaab retains freedom of movement in many parts of southern Somalia and demonstrates its ability and intention to attack outside the United States. Interests of the United States, “the report said.

“Somalia’s security forces will not be able to contain the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia, which pose a minor but still strong threat, without significant international support,” he added.

A CIA officer killed the fight in Somalia
And Somalia remains violent. On Wednesday, CNN reported that a CIA officer had been killed in Somalia earlier this month.

Miller said one of the primary goals for the Department of Defense is to complete the fight against al-Qaeda, a mission challenged by the continued presence of Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group’s largest subsidiary, especially with reduced U.S. military efforts.

The report also said the U.S. Army’s training efforts in Somalia are centered on the Danab Brigade, a light infantry force at the forefront of the fight against Al-Shabaab, currently standing at just 945 soldiers, well below its authorized 3,000. The withdrawal of American forces from Somalia will make it even more difficult, if not impossible, to train unity.

The Trump administration has promised to train the Danab army at an international conference in London in 2017.

While Al-Shabaab has been expelled from major cities in Somalia, the group continues to have a strong influence in southern Somalia, carrying out terrorist attacks in Mogadishu and commanding about 5,000-10,000 fighters.

Miller has also visited Djibouti, Bahrain and Qatar

Prior to his trip to Somalia, Miller made unannounced visits to U.S. military facilities in neighboring Djibouti, as well as Bahrain and Qatar.

Defense officials tell CNN that Miller’s visit to the region during the Thanksgiving holiday is focused on visiting U.S. troops stationed overseas, not new policy initiatives.

“Miller will meet with members of the service to thank their families and families for their selfless service and wish them a happy and healthy Thanksgiving,” the Pentagon said in a statement announcing his trip to the region while not identifying anything. for security reasons.

Djibouti is home to Africa’s largest U.S. military facility and about 3,500 U.S. troops are stationed here.

Part of Djibouti’s forces is helping support neighboring Somalia’s counter-terrorism campaign, and while Miller met there, U.S. Commander Africa’s commander, General Stephen Townsend, oversees all U.S. forces on the continent.

Supreme U.S. General Africa warns of growing threats as Trump government considers reducing troop numbers

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet and the Naval Central Command, which oversees naval operations in the Middle East. It consists of about 20 ships and more than 7,000 U.S. crew.

In Qatar, there are about 8,500 U.S. personnel at al Udeid Air Base, home to the U.S. Air Force Headquarters, which oversees U.S. air operations in the region.

At all three locations, Miller, a former Army Special Forces officer, met with U.S. troops and helped serve traditional Thanksgiving dishes in the facility’s canteens.

He also toured naval ships and spoke at length with soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel, asking questions and telling jokes, seeming to adopt a more disrespectful and funny style than some of his predecessors.

Miller said the purpose of the visit was to “come out and show them a little love, show them some respect – thank you for not going home with this Covid-19. … So it’s very important to me in this situation to let me get out and walk in. “

And although his first overseas trip will take place during the change of president, Miller issued a written statement along the way that he will ensure the success of the transition despite his absence from Washington.

“I will ensure an effective transition process because the American people expect this from national security professionals,” the statement said.