"Why now?" Dismay as U.S. considers troop pullout from Somalia

“The first thing … it’s disastrous for Somalia’s security sector, it just causes that first panic reaction: You know, why now?” said Samira Gaid, a Somali national security specialist who served as senior security adviser to the prime minister and special adviser to the head of AMISOM. “Especially since over the past three and half years in particular the security sector really improved, and we tried to work closely with” the U.S., she told The Associated Press.

Recent progress includes a “war council” between the U.S. and Somali governments, she said, where the U.S. helps to draw up military plans. “We call them Somali-led operations, but really the U.S. is hand-holding us through it.”

The U.S. military also trains Somalia’s elite Danab special forces that now number around 1,000, and is providing Danab with air cover and intelligence, Gaid said.

“Danab was expanding, that’s why this is so shocking,” she said. “Is it possible to move forward with that plan now?”