The Pentagon is planning to battle Islamic terrorists in Somalia for at least two more years, a proposal allowed under new rules signed by President Donald Trump.
These new rules signed in October allow the Pentagon to engage in operations outside regular war zones, and so now the Pentagon has forwarded a plan for approval citing those exact rules to continue hitting al-Shabab and the Islamic State in Somalia for years to come, The New York Times reports.
The Pentagon has conducted 30 airstrikes against Islamic militants so far in 2017, twice the number from 2016. That high figure will likely continue into 2018, if the new proposal receives approval.
As part of the plan submitted to the National Security Council, the Pentagon wants to continue operations for at least two years before a review. That review would be conducted internally and without input from other agencies.
“We are not going to broadcast our targeting policies to the terrorists that threaten us, but we will say in general that our counterterrorism policies continue to reflect our values as a nation,” Marc Raimondi, a National Security Council spokesman, told The New York Times. “The United States will continue to take extraordinary care to mitigate civilian casualties, while addressing military necessity in defeating our enemy.”
If the plan is approved, the State Department would lose authority to suspend military operations in Somalia, that the Pentagon believes is an encroachment on its chain of command. Still, the State Department has a way of putting a stop to military activity through raising objections in a meeting that would be convened by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
U.S. military operations in Somalia currently move far beyond airstrikes. The Pentagon announced in late November the presence of more than 500 troops in the country, though at the time a Pentagon official denied a “ramp-up.”
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