The Pentagon pledged that efforts to safeguard American interests would continue.
“The U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa,” it said in a statement. “We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach.”
The United States will retain the ability to conduct counterterrorism operations in Somalia, especially drone strikes, and to collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the United States and allies from militant forces in the country.
“As a result of this decision, some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa,” the statement said, adding that “the remaining forces will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries in order to allow cross-border operations by both U.S. and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.”
The mission in Somalia has been in the spotlight in recent days, after it was reported that a veteran C.I.A. officer was killed in combat in Somalia, according to current and former American officials. The death has already rekindled debate over American intelligence’s counterterrorism operations in Africa. The officer was a member of the C.I.A.’s paramilitary division, the Special Activities Center, and a former member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Trump ordered the military to withdraw forces from Afghanistan, halving the number there to just over 2,000. Reductions in the American troop presence in Iraq also are underway.
Also this week, the Pentagon policy official overseeing the military’s efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was fired after a White House appointee told him that the United States had won that war and that his office had been disbanded. The ouster of the official, Christopher P. Maier, the chief of the Pentagon’s “Defeat ISIS” task force since March 2017, came just three weeks after Mr. Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and three other Pentagon officials and replaced them with loyalists.
The acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, who has been carrying out Mr. Trump’s purge at the Pentagon since he took over from Mr. Esper last month, characterized the moves as a reflection of the success of the American-led effort to crush the terrorist state that the Islamic State created in large sections of Iraq and Syria.
Orignially published in NYT.