The Trump administration complied with its announcement and completed the withdrawal of U.S. troops that were in Somalia carrying out tasks of control and detection of terrorist cells. The withdrawal of troops has to do with the policy announced by President Trump regarding changes in U.S. geopolitical strategies, which would not require the presence of so many soldiers in certain places.

Early in December, President Trump ordered the withdrawal of almost all U.S. troops from Somalia by Jan. 15, about 700 soldiers who were focused on helping local forces defeat the Al-Shabab insurgency linked to al-Qaeda. 

The Pentagon said in an official statement that much of the U.S. presence would be reassigned to neighboring countries and still be able to conduct cross-border operations in Somalia as needed.

“The U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa. We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach,” the Defense Department said in the statement. 

Both President Trump and the Defense Department argued that the withdrawal does not imply that the United States is no longer interested in preventing terrorism in Somalia and its effect on the world or anything like that, but rather that it involves a change in attack and investigation strategy, aimed at improving controls.

“The U.S. will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland.”

Somalia has been divided by civil war since the early 1990s, but over the last decade, a peacekeeping force backed by the African Union and the U.S. government has regained control of Mogadishu, the Somali capital and large parts of the country.

Mohamed Farmaajo, the former president of Somalia, acknowledged in a tweet in October 2020 that U.S. cooperation to achieve peace and eliminate terrorism depended in part on U.S. collaboration. 

“U.S. military support to Somalia has allowed us to effectively combat Al-Shabab and secure the Horn of Africa. A victory through this journey and for Somali-US partnership can only be achieved through continuous security partnership and capacity building support,” Farmaajo wrote in a tweet.

The withdrawal of U.S. soldiers abroad was also announced for countries including Afghanistan and Iraq. The new strategies have to do with a change in the policy and positioning of the United States abroad, the U.S. authorities emphasized on repeated occasions that they will continue the measures to eliminate extremists that could threaten national security and world peace.

“While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in U.S. policy. We will continue to degrade violent extremist organizations that could threaten our homeland while ensuring we maintain our strategic advantage in great power competition,” the Defense Department said in a statement on Dec. 4, 2020.