President Joe Biden approved a plan to send U.S. troops to Somalia in a bid to counter the terrorist group al-Shabab, several administration officials have said.
Several White House officials confirmed the development at a May 16 briefing, saying Biden approved a request from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to reestablish a new U.S. presence in the war-torn east African country to deal with al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-aligned terrorist group that’s said to have thousands of members.
“Our forces are not now, nor will they be, directly engaged in combat operations,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on May 16 in confirming the deployment. “The purpose here is to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabab by local forces.”
The troops are already in the region and will soon be redeployed to Somalia, he said. They’ll take part in training and bolstering forces loyal to the Somali government against al-Shabab.