The Trump administration is considering a plan to pull hundreds of U.S. troops out of Somalia, reposition them in neighboring countries and shift the focus of their mission from training Somali government forces to directly combatting the al-Shabaab militant group.
The roughly 700 troops stationed in Somalia would move to bases in Kenya and Djibouti and travel to Somalia to conduct shorter counterterrorism missions, primarily against al-Shabaab, a jihadist group allied with al Qaeda.
The planned move by the new acting defense secretary, Chris Miller, comes in the last weeks of the Trump administration and would effectively reverse the course set by his predecessor, Mark Esper. Mr. Esper favored drawing down U.S. forces operating in the volatile Sahel region of West Africa while maintaining the American presence in Somalia, according to a senior U.S. official.
It wasn’t known whether Mr. Miller has formally signed off on the change, but the troops could be moved as soon as early next year, defense officials said.
Pentagon officials said that while there are ongoing conversations, “no DoD decisions have been made” about the force posture on the African continent, a spokesman said.