US military still training Somalia’s Special Forces – Townsend

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The US Africa Command is still training Somalia’s Special Forces dubbed Danab, General Stephen Townsend has said, noting that despite the withdrawal of the American forces, Washington is still keen to help Somalia defeat Al-Shabaab.

Last year, former US President Donald Trump sanctioned the withdrawal of close to 800 US soldiers from Somalia, who was responsible for training the Danab Special Forces, a contingent of Somali National Army [SNA], besides providing aerial surveillance to allied forces.

The soldiers were repositioned to Kenya and Djibouti by the Department of Defense which has been closely monitoring the situation in the troubled Horn of Africa nation battling with instability for decades.

In an interview with the Voice of America, Townsend, who is the Commander of US Africa Command, said there are still close to 100 soldiers offering training to the Danab Special Forces in Somalia.

“If increased pressure is not applied to al-Shabab, I’m concerned there’s going to be a significant al-Shabab attack,” he told VOA.

In Somalia, where local and international partners are battling the al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab, U.S. forces have continued to “commute to work” while leaving fewer than 100 troops in the war-torn country.

Donald Trump ordered most of the 800 U.S. troops out of Somalia in 2020 in one of his last foreign policy moves as American president.

“We are working hard to get our tasks done. I think that there are more effective and efficient ways to do that. We’ve provided those recommendations to the secretary of defense, and we’re waiting for decisions there,” Townsend said.

A report released by the US Africa Command indicated that there were fewer airstrikes in Somalia in 2021 compared to 2020. According to the report, the US army fired 10 times in Somalia last year compared to 72 times in 2020.

The Danab Special Forces have been instrumental in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants for the last couple of years. The US has been financing and equipping them, further helping to degrade the Al-Shabaab in central and southern Somalia.