* U.S. has about 700 troops in troubled eastern African nation
* Terrorist group al-Shabaab could benefit from troop reduction
President Donald Trump has told top advisers he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Somalia, according to people familiar with the matter, allowing him to make good on campaign pledges to bring soldiers home even though the country remains beset by insurgents linked to al-Qaeda.
The Pentagon has begun drafting plans for the president, and discussions have involved National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.
The U.S. has 650 to 800 troops in Somalia, according to the U.S. Africa Command, including special forces that are helping train Somalia’s army.
All or almost all were sent during Trump’s presidency. Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi said in an interview that he’d like U.S. forces to stay, adding that he believes his country, with U.S. assistance, is on the brink of defeating the al Shabaab insurgents.
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