Published On: Sun, Nov 29th, 2020

US military chief visits Somalia as Trump mulls troop pullout

Araweelo News Network.

Mogadishu(ANN)-US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller has paid a surprise visit to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Miller, who was appointed by outgoing President Donald Trump, is expected to order the withdrawal of most or all of the 700 US troops in Somalia before his term ends on January 20, 2021.

Announcing the visit in a brief statement on Saturday, the US Defense Department said Miller — who was installed by Trump as acting military chief on November 9 after firing Mark Esper — met with American service members in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Friday to express appreciation for their work and to reiterate the US commitment to combating extremist groups.

Miller arrived in Djibouti on Thursday as part of his Thanksgiving holiday tour of the Middle East and parts of North Africa purportedly to meet with US troops in the region, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth.

During that stop, he added, Miller took a flight to Somalia to extend his holiday message of appreciation and support to the US service members operating in Mogadishu.

Information about which base or the specific troops Miller met with was not disclosed, however, as reporters did not travel with him to Somalia in what a military official said was possibly the first visit to the troubled country by a US defense secretary, according to a report by the Washington-based Stars & Stripes military newspaper.

Just hours after Miller’s visit, the US-backed Somali government reported a suicide bombing in Mogadishu that killed at least seven people, adding that the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for the attack.

The development came as a Defense Department inspector general report released on Wednesday claimed that US Africa Command (AFRICOM ) has seen “a definitive shift” in recent months of al-Shabab’s focus to attack American interests in the region.

According to the report, AFRICOM also believes the Somali militant group is the most “dangerous, capable, and imminent threat” on the continent, further insisting that it also intends “to attack America, but does not have the ability now to do so.”

In the past year, the reports adds, al-Shabab has been behind three attacks that have killed or injured US personnel: September 2019 at Baledogle Airfield in Somalia; Manda Bay in Kenya in January, and an attack in September in southern Somalia.

Miller’s unexpected visit to Somalia amid Trump’s reported plans to withdraw US forces from the country came as experts cited in American press reports insist that the pullout of troops would leave Somali forces vulnerable to be overrun by local militant groups.

The reports further point to the heavy involvement of American forces in Somalia in conducting “counter-terrorism” operations as well as training, advising and supporting Somali government forces, adding that the US military has also conducted air strikes in the country to kill al-Shabab members.

The reports further underline that Washington’s plans to remove US forces from Somalia comes at the worst possible time, pointing to the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in the country, improvement of al-Shabab “bomb-making skills” and expected withdrawal of African Union’s  19,000-strong AMISOM forces from the nation, whose own forces remain incapable of maintain security.

Moreover, the Pentagon’s inspector general report further emphasized that implementation of the plan for Somali forces to take over the country’s security next year is “badly off track.”

Somali forces cannot contain the al-Shabab threat on its own, the report maintains, adding that they still rely on the international community for financial support, and yet they “sometimes go unpaid for months.”

Miller, who previously headed the National Counterterrorism Center, has been in the Middle East and parts of North Africa this week on his first international trip as acting defense secretary. He has not been nominated by Trump for Senate confirmation as Pentagon chief.

About the Author

- #Arraale Mohamoud Jama is a freelance and investigative journalist, writer and human rights activist with more than 20 years of experience. He writes about a range of topics related to social issues such as human rights, politics and security. Other topics in which Mr. Arraale is interested include democracy and good governance. Mr. Arraale has written extensively on regional and international events, and has worked with Somaliland newspapers and Human rights organizations. In 2008, he established #Araweelo #News #website# Network, which he currently manages. For further information, please contact: or Send an SMS or MMS to + 252 63 442 5380 + 252 63 442 5380 /

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