Without giving details, the Pentagon stated that 'a majority' of U.S. troops and assets in Somalia will be withdrawn in early 2021. There are for now roughly 700 troops in that Horn of Africa nation, training and advising local forces in an extensive fight against the extremist group al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had stated on Wednesday that the future structure of the U.S. military attendance in Somalia was still in discussion.
The adjusted U.S. presence, Milley said, would amount to 'a relatively small footprint, relatively low cost in terms of number of personnel and in terms of money.'
He presented no specifics but emphasized that the U.S. remained concerned about the threat posed by al-Shabab, which he named 'an extension of al-Qaeda,' the extremist group that plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on the United States from Afghanistan.
'They do have some reach and they could if left unattended conduct operations against not only U.S. interests in the region but also against the homeland,' he said.
'So they require attention.' Noting that Somalia remains a risky area for Americans, he said that a CIA officer was killed there recently.
Langevin is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee´s Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.
'When U.S. forces leave Somalia in response to today's order, it becomes harder for diplomats and aid workers to help people resolve conflicts without violence and loss of life,' Langevin said.
'With upcoming elections in Somalia and conflict raging in neighboring Ethiopia, abandoning our partners could not come at a worse time.'
Langevin said China will use the opportunity to build its influence in the Horn of Africa.
Though it seems like the criticism comes from a political view rather than a logical one. Some say that if Obama would have done the same, he would have been praised.
The Pentagon said the drawdown in Somalia does not indicate the end of U.S. counterterrorism battles there.
'As a result of this decision, some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa,' it said.
'However, 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.'