The U.S. Military went on the offensive with an airstrike against the al-Shabaab group in Somalia recently. This is the first offensive attack in Somalia to date and it came from the orders of the Trump Administration.
The attack happened at 2am eastern daylight time on June 11th. It happened about 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu and the operation was coordinated with regional partners in response to actions from al-Shabaab, which includes a recent attack on Somali forces.
The new authorities approved by President Trump in March allowed for the attack. The airstrike targeted a logistics and command node of al-Shabaab. Eight militants were killed by the strike and U.S. forces were used to help protect Americans in a counter-terror action.
Before the new authorities were given to the U.S. Department of Defense, this type of air strike could not have happened. It would have only happened in a self-defense situation if Somali troops and U.S. advisers came under fire. However, the new authorities allow for this type of airstrike.
Previously, the U.S. military has conducted other missions and airstrikes under other authorities in an effort to target al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab is a known affiliate of al-Qaeda and has been since 20132. They are designated at a terrorist organization by many nations including the United Kingdom and the United States.
President Trump designated certain combat zones as “active areas of hostilities” in March, which means they can be attacked due to the new authorities. Zones, such as Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are part of these active zones.
If there is a reasonable certainty no civilians will be hurt, the U.S. military can conduct airstrikes in these areas. While unilateral decisions for airstrikes cannot be made, they can be made with a consultation with the Somalian government and the African Union military force.