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On Dec. 4, President Trump ordered most of the approximately 700 U.S. troops out of Somalia. The move wasn’t a full withdrawal, however, as the White House specified the forces will be moved to neighboring countries to continue targeting the al-Shabaab terror group. While addressing the tactical actions our troops would continue to perform in Africa, there was no mention of the strategic justification for our presence—because there is none.

Al-Shabaab is unquestionably a bloodthirsty terror group that doesn’t think twice about killing large numbers of innocent people in Somalia and elsewhere in Africa. As bad as they are, however, they do not pose a threat to America that cannot be handled more effectively by our global intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance networks and ability to strike direct threats to our country, regardless of where in the world the threat originates.

Al-Shabaab began as the militant wing of the Union of Islamic Courts in the mid-2000s in Mogadishu. The Congressional Research Service defines the group’s objectives as being to unify “ethnic Somali-inhabited areas of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia under an Islamist government.” Although al-Shabaab has an open affiliation with al-Qaeda, its primary objectives remain local.

To the extent they attack non-Somali targets, the overriding imperative is to attack entities or personnel that target al-Shabaab. They have launched attacks in Uganda, Djibouti, and Kenya against members of the UN-authorized Africa Union Mission in Somalia that regularly fights against al-Shabaab.

In January, al-Shabaab militants attacked the Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya, a military facility the United States uses, killing a U.S. soldier and two civilian contractors. If the American military were not actively conducting combat operations in Africa, al-Shabaab would have no opportunity to harm them.

In a report to Congress last September, the inspector general of the East Africa Counterterrorism Operation claimed al-Shabaab had the “intent” to attack the American homeland but conceded that it “lacks the ability to do so.”

It should be self-evident that it is wholly unnecessary to maintain robust and ongoing combat operations in the vast continent of Africa to launch attacks against a militant group that claims to want to attack the United States but doesn’t have the ability to carry through on its desires. Further, as has so often been the case in America’s inconclusive use of lethal military power since 9/11, the mission in Africa is not militarily attainable.

The U.S. military mission in east Africa is “to disrupt, degrade, and deny victory to al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia in Somalia and neighboring countries.” It says the desired end state of the operation “is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the U.S. homeland, U.S. persons, international allies or destabilize the region.” Yet those objectives are virtually impossible to attain.

In July 2017, I traveled through a large section of Uganda where the terrorist Kony once called home to his Lord’s Resistance Army. Just two months earlier, Washington and Kampala had formally ceased trying

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 to capture Kony.

The United States had been trying, since 2011, to kill or capture Kony, spending $800 million in the process. During my time there, Ugandan guides took me through the heart of the area where Kony had successfully eluded all efforts to capture him. It was clear why.

The jungles in parts of Africa are dense, have few paved roads, and many areas have no means of communication. In Kenya and Somalia, where al-Shabaab primarily operates, there are large expanses of deserts, mountains, and inhospitable brush country. There are reportedly up to 10,000 members of al-Shabaab, who have proven adept at hiding from authorities. In populated areas, it is virtually impossible to distinguish Somali civilians from al-Shabaab fighters.

Just like we failed to ever find Kony in Uganda, the mission to “degrade” al-Shabaab in east Africa is likewise suffering the same predictable failure. It is time to admit the reality in Somalia—as we did in Uganda in 2017—and end the mission. There is no utility in shuffling our troops to other parts of Africa, as is currently being planned. We need to end the pointless missions and end the fighting, withdrawing our troops back to the United States.

America’s best defense against terror threats—regardless of where in the world they originate—remains our robust global intelligence and strike capacity. Small numbers of troops fighting in the vast African continent will never succeed and will have their lives risked for a mission disconnected from U.S. security. This mission will continue to waste hundreds of millions of dollars and periodically cost the lives of our service members. It is time to acknowledge reality and end these conflicts.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.



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Trump calls Limbaugh ‘legend,’ in first TV interview since Senate trial

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Former President Trump on Wednesday afternoon praised the career of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who has died of cancer.

“He loved his country, and he loved his fans,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel. “He is a legend.”

The interview was Trump’s first since the conclusion of his Senate impeachment trial last week.

Limbaugh’s wife, Kathryn, announced her husband’s death earlier in the day on his radio show. He had been diagnosed about a year ago with Stage-IV lung cancer. He was 70.

The president also said he had a personal friendship with Limbaugh, who was an early supporter of his 2016 presidential bid and who, like Trump, thought the president won reelection in 2020.

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Trump also pointed out that Limbaugh was a provocateur in his views about conservative politics that often sparked backlash from liberals and other critics. 

Trump last year in his State of the Union address awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Rep. Bennie Thompson targets Trump, Giuliani, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in Capitol riot lawsuit

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Rep. Bennie Thompson is targeting former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers in a suit alleging that they conspired to incite the violence that transpired at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the long-serving Mississippi Democrat by the NAACP and the Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll law firm claims that the defendants broke the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by attempting to meddle in Congress’s certification of the Electoral College count, according to NPR.

“The insurrection at the Capitol was a direct, intended, and foreseeable result of the Defendants’ unlawful conspiracy,” the lawsuit claims. “It was instigated according to a common plan that the Defendants pursued since the election held in November 2020.”

According to the outlet, Thompson told reporters on Tuesday: “I am privileged to partner with the NAACP to have my day in court so that the perpetrators of putting members of Congress at risk can be held accountable.”

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Trump was acquitted on Saturday in his Senate impeachment trial in a 57-43 vote. While a majority of senators voted that the former commander-in-chief was guilty regarding the single article of impeachment that was passed by the House last month during Trump’s waning days in office, the 57 guilty votes failed to clear the two-thirds supermajority required to secure a conviction.

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Judicial Watch sues U.S. Capitol Police in pursuit of emails and videos pertaining to Jan. 6 riots

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Judicial Watch has lodged a lawsuit against the U.S. Capitol Police in an effort to obtain emails and videos pertaining to the riot that transpired Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

The watchdog organization said in a press release that it filed the suit under the common law right of access to public records following the Capitol Police declining to provide materials sought in a Jan. 21 request.

“The public has a right to know about how Congress handled security and what all the videos show of the US Capitol riot,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “What are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer trying to hide from the American people?”

The January request sought all video from within the U.S. Capitol during a nine-hour period on Jan. 6.

The request also sought “Email communications between the U.S. Capitol Police Executive Team and the Capitol Police Board concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021,” according to Judicial Watch. The request also sought, “Email communications of the Capitol Police Board with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security concerning the security of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The timeframe of this request is from January 1, 2021 through January 10, 2021,” according to the watchdog group.

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The Capitol Police said in a Feb. 11 letter that the materials sought do not constitute “public records,” according to Judicial Watch.

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