US carries out ‘14 strikes or raids’ in Somalia in 2016
The US military has increased air strikes and raids inside Somalia in recent years, with at least 14 such operations taking place in 2016, according to Stars and Stripes.
In October, a New York Times article described “a shadow war” being waged by the US military in Somalia, with a focus on counter-terrorism operations targeting Al Shabaab, ISIS and other extremist groups.
In March 2016, the US announced that it had killed more than 150 Al Shabaab fighters who “posed an imminent threat to US and [African Union] forces”. While that report has not been independently verified, US air strikes in Somalia have come under criticism for failing to present evidence of US military officials’ announcements.
Guided by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), American special operations units are involved in training Somali government forces and preparing them for taking over security responsibilities, after the potential withdraw of AMISOM peacekeepers.
However, the US military’s advise and assist mission has transitioned and the AFRICOM commander, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, said that “military operations” in Somalia conducted by US Special Forces have “become a little more complex and a little more dangerous”.
In September, the US carried out an airstrike killing at least 10 persons that US military initially described as a “self-defense air strike” against Al Shabaab fighters. However, after the Somali government protested and Galmudug region demanded compensation, the US opened an investigation into the deadly air strike.
The investigation concluded that US forces killed Galmudug troops, not Al Shabaab militants. The case provides a recent example of the complex relationships and ground realities US forces have to maneuver, in efforts to fight extremist groups and help stabilize the troubled East African nation.