American soldiers deployed with US Army Forces Africa stand with Somali National Army soldiers during a May 2017 graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia. ??A spokesperson with the command said US policy in the country remains unchanged despite a rumored drawdown. Air For?ce photo by SSgt. ?Nicholas Byers.?
US Africa Command announced Monday that a Jan. 6 US air strike in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle Region “killed six … [al-Shabaab] militants and destroyed one vehicle” without harming any civilians, according to its current assessment, according to a Jan. 7 release.
The command said the strike aimed “to diminish” the terror organization’s “freedom of movement” and to put more pressure on it “in the area.”
It was the second strike launched by the US in Somalia so far in 2019, and it comes days after NBC News reported the Defense Department planned to lessen the US military’s role and number of air strikes? in the country. NBC’s Jan. 4 story cited “current and former officials,” who said the rumored drawdown was a result of the Trump administration’s determination that the terror group’s “insurgency” didn’t directly endanger the US.
On Monday morning, though, and prior to the air strike announcement, an AFRICOM spokesman told Air Force Magazine that things were still business as usual in Somalia.
“Per OSD, there have been no recent policy changes regarding US operations in Somalia,” Air Force Maj. Karl Wiest said in an email. “US Africa Command remains fully committed to supporting the Federal Government of Somalia, its forces, and our international partners, as together we enhance security and stability in the region.” Wiest also reiterated the command’s continued commitment to supporting the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to take down al-Shabaab.
Another US strike, launched Jan. 2 in the same area as the Jan. 6 one, reportedly killed 10 members of al-Shabaab without harming any civilians, according to a release.