“The president has authorized the Department of Defense to return a small, persistent U.S. military presence to Somalia,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a press briefing Monday.
He said the decision was based on a request from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with advice from senior military commanders and was also based on concern for the safety of U.S. troops who have “incurred additional risk” by deploying in and out of Somalia on an “episodic” basis for the past 16 months.
The U.S. military presence in Somalia will have an estimated cap of 500 troops, according to a U.S. official during a background briefing, the New York Post reported.
“We are proud, first and foremost, to be supporting the Somalis’ own efforts to rebuild their own state and we are working closely with other international partners,” the official said.
Kirby said the U.S. troops will continue their missions to train, advise, and assist Somali partner forces to “disrupt, degrade, and monitor” al-Shabaab.