The US is going to raise the pressure on the al-Shabab terrorist group despite the loss of a Navy SEAL operator and two other wounded in an operation last week.
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said that the battle took place in Barii, a small town 40 miles west of Mogadishu. It was reportedly a Somali-led operation, U.S. forces reportedly came under fire when American aircraft were used to help deploy Somali commandos. Navy SEALs have been advising the Somali units.
There was also an international conference occurring in London at the same time. This is intended to increase the security and government reform in Somalia. The aim is to create a new international partnership agreement to stabilize Somalia. The aim is to stabilize the country and turn things over to Somali forces with an exit strategy for the allied countries by 2020.
In early March, the Pentagon requested new rules of engagement for its operations in Somalia to remove constraints on airstrikes and raids targeting people suspected of being al-Shabab militants. On March 24, General Waldhauser reiterated the call for more flexibility in decision-making to fight al-Shabab, saying that “it’s very important and very helpful for us to have [a] little more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness, in terms of decision-making process. . . . It allows to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion. . . . [I]f we were given . . . those permissions and authorities, [it] will be very helpful to us.”
On March 29, President Trump granted wider scope to launch U.S. military operations by designating Somalia an “area of active hostilities” where war-zone targeting rules will apply for at least 180 days. Subsequently, General Waldhauser appeared ambiguous about the new authorities, stating “we have not been given loosened rules for authority to strike. What we have been given is we’ve been given authority to assist AMISOM forces that are on missions where, if they cannot take care of the situation on their own, then we are authorized to assist them there. We are also authorized to develop targets on our own and take appropriate action if required.”
Just a few days later, on April 24, a letter written by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance requested the geographic coordinates of aid groups working in Somalia. “Due to the need for increased operational security in Somalia, and based on best practices in other complex emergencies, humanitarian and development organizations may want to provide information about their fixed locations in Somalia for deconfliction,” it stated.
The US has furnished training and equipment to the Somalis, has helped pay for the security forces and has been conducting raids on located al-Shabab forces. The US is planning on stepping up the tempo despite the loss of the Navy’s special operator to weaken the terror group and to further bolster Somalia’s forces.
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Photo courtesy of AP