US Conducts First Airstrike in Somalia Under Biden Administration

U.S. forces July 20 conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabab fighters in Somalia, the first such strike under President Joe Biden.

The strike, which comes after most American troops have left the country, supported partner Somali forces under attack in the vicinity of Galkayo.

“There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation,” Defense Department spokesperson Cindi King said in a statement. “U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise-and-assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces. U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under collective self defense.”

The last airstrike in Somalia was Jan. 19, just before Biden was inaugurated as President.

In December, then-President Donald J. Trump ordered U.S. troops to leave Somalia as part of a large, fast airlift mission called Operation Octave Quartz. Since then, American forces have been “commuting to work” by flying in for short-term missions then leaving the country, commander of U.S. Africa Command Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said.

Last month, however, Townsend said the Defense Department is considering sending American troops back to the country. The “fairly sudden repositioning out of Somalia” has made the mission more risky and complex, he said.

“So, what we’re trying to do is manage that risk and complexity as we still try to help our African partners with their security challenges,” he added.