Connect with us

Somali News

How American Special Operators Gradually Returned to Somalia

American UN soldiers patrol in southern Mogadishu, Somalia, in October of 1993.

Published

on

A U.S. soldier was killed in the country this month for the first time in more than two decades. What was he doing there?

The death of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken and the wounding of two more U.S. troops in Somalia this month marked the first deadly engagement for American forces in the country since the Battle of Mogadishu of October 1993. The two events differ in notable respects, not least in their magnitude—the battle of October 3-4, 1993, resulted in 18 Americans killed and 79 wounded. But both operations reflect the adverse conditions that U.S. special-operations forces, and the United States more broadly, face in the world’s most dysfunctional states.

Back in the summer of 1993, warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid bedeviled an international coalition that was trying to restore order and build democracy in the midst of a vicious civil war in Somalia. A ruthless clan leader known for firing artillery into civilian neighborhoods and starving opposing clans into submission, Aidid had made himself the chief obstacle to the nation-building project. The Clinton administration had removed a large U.S. Marine force months earlier and transferred authority over the remaining international troops to the United Nations. Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s UN ambassador, declared at the time, “[W]e will embark on an unprecedented enterprise aimed at nothing less than the restoration of an entire country as a proud, functioning and viable member of the community of nations.”

When the marines had occupied Mogadishu, their relentless patrolling of city streets had kept Aidid and other warlords in check. Once they left, the Asian, European, and African peacekeepers under UN command did not maintain such a visible presence. Sensing weakness, the clan militias began resisting foreign efforts to monitor their weapons caches and limit their activities.

In August 1993, the killing of four U.S. soldiers by a bomb traced to Aidid convinced Clinton that the status quo had become untenable. Clinton was unwilling to send additional conventional forces to Somalia, owing to reservations among congressmen in his own party, some of whom were already calling for the removal of all U.S. forces from a situation they were certain would devolve into another Vietnam. But Clinton was open to sending special-operations forces, since their units were smaller and designed to maintain a low profile. Some in the special-operations community argued that their units could oust Aidid, demonstrating their ability to achieve strategic results without the participation of conventional forces. Clinton decided to send the Army’s most elite unit, Delta Force, to Somalia, along with a Ranger company and a detachment from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

The operation of October 3, 1993, began auspiciously enough. Storming a three-story house in Mogadishu, the Delta operators rounded up several high-value targets without firing a shot. But then a rocket-propelled grenade felled one of the American Black Hawk helicopters flying nearby, forcing some of the U.S. ground troops to move toward its crash site. Caught in the middle of the city with no Somali security forces to assist, the Delta operators and Rangers came under attack on all sides from Aidid’s militiamen. By intermingling with women and children, the militiamen reduced their vulnerability to American fire, wary as the latter were of harming civilians. Most of the American units were able to hold out until the arrival of reinforcements early the next day, but only at heavy loss of life and limb.

The high-casualty toll and the images of dead Americans dragged through Mogadishu’s streets drove Clinton to call off the hunt for Aidid. On October 13, 1993, he announced that U.S. forces would leave Somalia no later than March 31, 1994. In the announcement, he avoided mention of the botched raid, and instead attributed the decision to plans for transition of the mission to the United Nations. U.S. troops would not leave immediately, he stated, because “were American forces to leave now we would send a message to terrorists and other potential adversaries around the world that they can change our policies by killing our people.” Yet ending the hunt for Aidid and setting a withdrawal date for U.S. forces were changes to America’s policies, ones that future terrorists like Osama bin Laden would cite as evidence of the value of killing Americans.

Somalia returned to the attention of the U.S. national-security community after 9/11, as the result of a decision by bin Laden to dispatch lieutenants to the country. On the run in Pakistan, bin Laden was sprinkling his faithful across Muslim lands to reduce his movement’s vulnerability and diversify its recruiting base. The lack of a viable central government and the presence of Sunni Muslims made Somalia an ideal place to recruit followers, plan terrorist strikes, and hide from the Americans.

In 2006, a Somali-Islamic extremist group known as the Council of Islamic Courts took control of Mogadishu, driving out the feeble provisional government. The Council’s fighters swept into central and southern Somalia and seemed on the verge of consolidating control of the whole country. Neighboring Ethiopia, however, became so alarmed at the prospect of an extremist state on its borders that it unleashed its army. The Ethiopians handily defeated the Council, seizing Mogadishu in just a few days.

For U.S. special-operations forces, Ethiopia’s occupation of Somalia was a windfall. Arriving in Mogadishu together with the Ethiopian forces, American special operators set up shop alongside them. While the Ethiopians secured roads and swatted down lowly insurgents, the Americans nabbed al-Qaeda leaders.

But after the Ethiopians reinstated the provisional government, it remained incapable of governing effectively or organizing large security forces. Al-Shabab, an ascendant offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, waged a vigorous, effective guerrilla war on the Ethiopian occupation forces, inflicting heavy casualties. To ease the burden on the Ethiopians, the UN Security Council decided in 2007 to deploy 8,000 African Union troops to Somalia for what would come to be known as African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Somaliland

Protests in Somaliland As Opposition Claim Election Fraud

Published

on

Wadani Party supporters took to the streets of various opposition strongholds to protest what they claim to be election irregularities.

In Burco police used live bullets to disperse protestors.

Riots erupted hours after senior Wadani officials held a press conference on Thursday morning, accusing the ruling party of purchasing and using ballot papers forged with NEC’s official stamp.

Continue Reading

Somali News

Pentagon says more than 500 US troops now in Somalia, but denies ‘build up’

Published

on

The Pentagon announced in a statement Thursday there are now “more than” 500 US troops on the ground in Somalia.

A significant increase from early 2014 when roughly two dozen troops arrived for the first time since 1993 and the Black Hawk Down incident.

US Africa Command says there have been 28 airstrikes this year, mostly from drones against al-Shabaab, long considered the greatest terror threat in Africa.

At a press conference Thursday at the Pentagon, a top defense official denied any “ramp-up.”

“I do not believe necessarily there’s a ramp-up,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff when asked about the spike in airstrikes in Somalia. “It’s the density of targets is such that now there’s some of opportunities to do those strikes.”

The US military recently conducted six straight days of airstrikes in Somalia from last Thursday to Tuesday.

Last month, al-Shabaab was blamed for a truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu which killed over 300 people.

The head of the Pentagon’s joint staff said there’s no link between the fall of the ISIS capital Raqqa last month, and the first airstrikes against ISIS in Yemen and Somalia.

US DRONE STRIKE IN SOMALIA KILLS ‘SEVERAL AL-SHABAAB MILITANTS, MILITARY SAYS

Earlier this month, the US conducted the first airstrikes against ISIS in Somalia.

McKenzie also denied the increase of hundreds of additional troops in Somalia as a “build up,” but just a “flow of forces in and out” of the country.

In May, a Navy SEAL was killed fighting al-Shabaab, the first combat death in Somalia since 1993.

In addition to Somalia, the US military has conducted over 100 airstrikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen, including the first strikes against ISIS in Yemen last month.

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

UNSC votes to extend sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia

Published

on

The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend an arms embargo imposed on Eritrea and Somalia for allegedly supporting al-Shabaab. The decision comes barely a week after a panel of experts called for the lifting of sanctions particularly on Somalia. CGTN’s Liling Tan filed this report from New York

Continue Reading

TRENDING

Copyright © BARTAMAHA MEDIA.