USA secret missions Somalia: The US has led covert operations around the world, and many of them have taken place in Africa alone. Moreover, in the past, the US supported opposition groups or rebel forces in African countries to create trouble for governments that were perceived as hostile to American interests.
Apart from this, the USA has been involved in many counter-insurgency secret missions in several African countries, including Somalia. However, recent reports suggest that these operations are often conducted secretly, without the knowledge or consent of the American public. Let us delve deeper into the secret missions of the USA in Somalia and find out what they entailed.
USA secret missions in Somalia
According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, the US has fought over a dozen “secret wars” in the past two decades. The report highlights that these “secret wars” involve ground combat, airstrikes, and the use of US proxy forces, often conducted with minimal congressional oversight.
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In its efforts to counter terrorism and promote stability, the US has been involved in Somalia since 2007, providing more than $500 million to train and equip African Union forces battling Al-Shabaab. The US has launched airstrikes against the terrorist group using both drones and manned aircraft, reportedly killing many Al-Shabaab insurgents.
Additionally, the US has developed two proxy forces, the Danab Brigade, and the Puntland Security Force. The CIA began building the Puntland Security Force in 2002 to battle Al-Shabaab, and later, the Islamic State in Somalia or ISS. As per the report, the proxy fighters were largely independent of the Somali government, despite being an elite armed brigade and one of Somalia’s most capable special operations units. The relationship between the proxy forces and US forces was kept secret, with US officials disavowing the presence of military advisers in Somalia until 2014, according to Katherine Yon Ebright, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program.
Likewise, these clandestine conflicts have been enabled by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, enacted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, as well as the covert action statute, which allows secret, unattributed operations primarily conducted by the CIA. Furthermore, the 127e authority allows US commandos to employ local surrogates on USA directed missions in Somalia, targeting US enemies to achieve US aims. Another authority, 10 U.S. Code § 333, often referred to as the “global train-and-equip authority,” allows the Pentagon to provide training and gear to foreign forces anywhere in the world. The 1202 authority allows the Defense Department to offer support to foreign surrogates taking part in irregular warfare aimed at near-peer competitors like China and Russia.
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What is more shocking, as noted by Ebright in her analysis, is that for a significant period of time, there was no clear legal basis for the US military to fight alongside and direct these forces in Somalia. The Obama administration designated Al-Shabaab an associated force of Al Qaeda and, therefore, a legitimate target under the 2001 AUMF in 2016. The same was done for the Islamic State in 2014, but ISS has never been publicly identified as an ISIS-associated force by any administration. This means that the Pentagon developed and fought alongside the Puntland Security Force from 2012 and the Danab Brigade from 2011—under the 127e and 333 security cooperation authorities—before the AUMF was judged to authorize hostilities against Al-Shabaab and ISIS, much less ISS.
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Ebright writes, “the Department of Defense is unequivocal that it does not treat § 333 and 127e as authorizations for use of military force.” However, “US forces have used these authorities to create, control, and at times engage in combat alongside groups like the Puntland Security Force and Danab Brigade.”
Ebright further notes that the claims of the right to act in self-defense, as made by Presidents, not only for US forces but also for partners like the Puntland Security Force and Danab Brigade, potentially allows the US to fight remote adversaries in the absence of any congressional authorization. Thus, the report sheds light on the lack of transparency and oversight of the US’ secret wars. However, there are also concerns regarding the effectiveness of these operations.
In-effectiveness of USA missions Somalia
Despite US interventions and donations of millions of dollars and operations against the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab, the group’s activities have only grown in recent times.
The US has equipped the Danab Brigade in its fight against Al-Shabaab militants. However, according to reports, despite years of US involvement, Al-Shabaab violence has only increased in 2022. The group was involved in more than 2,400 political violence events, including over 1,700 battle events and approximately 300 incidents of violence targeting civilians, with increases of 19% and 41%, respectively, relative to the previous year.
Additionally, Al-Shabaab’s targeting of civilians was most prevalent in the Banaadir, Lower Shabelle, and Hiran regions. Compared to the previous year, there was a 17% increase in Banaadir, a 95% increase in Lower Shabelle, and a staggering 366% increase in Hiran, as the group expanded the scale and scope of its attacks on civilians.
Considering all of this, it raises the question of what purpose the US secret wars are actually serving in Somalia. Are these secret missions solely aimed at maintaining US control over Somalia and using it as a means to achieve its geopolitical goals?
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It’s not uncommon for Western powers to swoop into Africa with guns blazing, claiming to fight terrorism. But all too often, these interventions fail to achieve their objectives and only end up making things worse. As a result, many African countries have started looking elsewhere for military support – and France is already feeling the heat. But when it comes to the US, the situation is downright baffling. These covert operations have been carried out without any Congressional oversight or transparency, yet they still haven’t achieved anything of note. It’s like trying to win a game of chess blindfolded – except instead of a game, it’s people’s lives at stake.
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