07:32 GMT22 January 2021
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    The decision comes exactly a week after acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller made a surprise visit to Somalia and honored US military personnel for their efforts in helping the East African country combat local al-Shabaab militants.

    The US Department of Defense announced in a statement on Friday that US President Donald Trump had ordered the Pentagon and United States Africa Command to "reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021."

    Around 700 US military personnel are presently stationed in Somalia to assist the East African nation with its fight against al-Shabaab.

    The Pentagon highlighted that, despite the pullout, the US is not "withdrawing or disengaging from Africa" and remains "committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach." 

    Furthermore, the change may result in some US forces being moved outside of East Africa, according to the release. 

    The remaining troops "will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries" to assist in "cross-border operations by both US and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia." 

    At the same time, the DoD emphasized the US will continue to the possess the capability to "conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia." 

    Sputnik reported last month that Trump and Miller were seeking to carry out a near-total withdrawal from Somalia, shortly after pulling troops out of the cities of Bossaso and Galkayo. 

    Somali Colonel Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh spoke with Reuters concerning the withdrawals from the two cities and warned Washington not to withdraw too rapidly. 

    “It would create a vacuum. The Somali security forces have good morale because of the US troops … there’s the possibility of air support if they are attacked, they can have medevacs,” he expressed. 

    Miller recently made a trip to the East African nation on November 27, the first such visit by a US defense secretary. 

    "Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller celebrated Thanksgiving with US military personnel and contractors at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti and in Mogadishu, Somalia," the Pentagon release on his unannounced visit read.

    "He recognized their commitment to mission and relayed his gratitude for the sacrifices they and their families make to protect the freedoms we enjoy and the American way of life." 

    Related:

    Pentagon Drafting Plans to Withdraw US Troops From Somalia - Reports
    CIA Officer Killed in Somalia Last Weekend - Reports
    Acting US Defense Chief Pays 1st Ever Visit to Somalia
    US Army’s Europe, Africa Commands Unite as Rumors Swirl of Potential Somalia Withdrawal
    Trump Mulling Near-Total Withdrawal of US Forces From Somalia Amid Global Pullback, Report Suggests
    Tags:
    Donald Trump, East Africa, Africa, US military, Somalia
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