With frequent suicide bombings and assaults on Somalia’s hotels and military targets, the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab has proved more resilient than expected, leading President Donald Trump’s administration to pursue wider military involvement here as current strategies, including drone attacks, are not enough, security experts say.
Senior U.S. officials have said the Pentagon wants to expand the military’s efforts to battle the al-Qaida-linked group. Recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S special forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army and give the U.S. military greater flexibility to launch more pre-emptive airstrikes.
The U.S. is likely to find counterterror efforts in Somalia difficult and expensive, analysts say especially with the recent emergence of fighters pledging alliance to the Islamic State group. “The concern in Washington has been mounting for some time now. The Trump administration is simply reiterating what has been policy, with slight variations,” said Rashid Abdi, a Horn of Africa analyst with the International Crisis Group. “U.S. special forces are already on the ground. Drone attacks have been scaled up.”
Currently about 50 U.S. commandos rotate in and out of this Horn of Africa nation to advise and assist local troops. The commandos have accompanied Somali forces in several raids against al-Shabab fighters in which dozens of militants were killed, according to Somali intelligence officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
Source: Washington post