Pentagon planning to withdraw support for most CIA counter-terror missions #Breaking112
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller informed CIA Director Gina Haspel of the decision in a letter this week.
The US military provides a wide range of support to CIA paramilitary operations, including air transportation, logistics and medical evacuation. The changes, which will take place by January 5, involve returning DOD personnel detailed to the CIA and some military equipment, including Predator drones.
The move would be the latest major policy change since President Donald Trump initiated a major personnel shakeup at the Pentagon following his election loss to Joe Biden.
A former senior administration official told CNN the Biden administration plans to reverse the move.
The identity of the officer has not been made public but the source said the officer was a former Navy SEAL.
Last week the administration confirmed plans to withdraw almost all the troops from the country by early 2021.
US Special Operations forces have been embedded with the Somali National Army, assisting in the fight against the militant group Al-Shabaab. As well as advising on airstrikes and ground assaults, the Navy SEAL-led team’s primary task is to train and build Somalia its own elite light infantry force.
While US military advisers in Somalia typically seek to let Somali forces take the lead during operations, there have been incidents where US forces have found themselves in combat situations.
In September, a US service member was injured in the country when Al-Shabaab attacked US and Somali forces. And in August, the US military carried out an airstrike targeting Al-Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of Dar as Salam, after local US-backed forces came under fire from a building.
A Pentagon Inspector General report released this year described the conflict in Somalia as being at a “stalemate,” with US-backed Somali government forces continuing to battle Al-Shabaab, with the insurgent group continuing to target Somali and international forces in the country’s southern provinces.
Al-Shabaab is estimated to command between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to estimates from Africa Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Though US military advisers have been in Somalia since at least 2013, the effort got a major boost under the Trump administration, which volunteered to undertake the Danab advisory mission in 2017 in addition to expanding drone strikes.
CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.