U.S. to reduce strength of African troops by half in 3 years
The United States is considering to reduce by half its counter-terrorism troops based in Africa over the next three years.
This followed a consideration for a sharp reduction in its special forces operations in Somalia and other African countries.
About 6,000 American soldiers are currently assigned to several African countries, according to the US Africa Command (Africom).
Some 500 of those commandos, trainers and logistics specialists are based in Somalia, where they assist African Union and Somali national forces in carrying out attacks on Al-Shabaab.
US military action in Somalia mainly consists of drone strikes that are said to have killed dozens of Shabaab militants in the past year.
But some US troops operate on the ground in an advisory capacity, and a steep reduction in their numbers could have negative consequences for the 11-year-long war against Al-Shabaab.
The contemplated reduction in US troop levels in Africa is mainly a product of two factors.
One is the political furore that erupted following the killing of four US soldiers last October during a counter-insurgency operation in Niger.
A Pentagon investigation into that attack “exposed a risk-taking culture among commandos”.
And that finding strengthened US Defence Secretary James Mattis’s inclination to reduce counter-insurgency missions in Africa, the newspaper said.
At the same time, the US is putting greater emphasis on responding to perceived military threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
A share of the special forces currently based in Africa would be reassigned to missions elsewhere in the world in accordance with that strategic reassessment.
Last year, President Donald Trump loosened restrictions on US military operations in Somalia that the Obama administration had put in place with the aim of avoiding civilian casualties.
An escalation in drone strikes ensued, along with an increase in the number of US military personnel inside Somalia.