The Air Force has already carried out as many airstrikes in Somalia in the first seven months of 2019 as it did in all of 2018.
In an email Monday, Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman for United States Africa Command, said that a July 27 airstrike in Somalia brought the total number of airstrikes in the African nation to 47, the same as 2018′s total.
“The 47 for 2019 are all in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” Karns said. “It is imperative that pressure is maintained on violent extremist organizations to create conditions for further political and economic development in Africa.”
In a Sunday release, AFRICOM said the July 27 airstrike targeted suspected Islamic State militants in the Golis Mountain region of Somalia, which the command said is known for terrorist activity.
AFRICOM said one suspected ISIS member who played a key role in the group was killed, but that no civilians were believed to have been injured or killed.
Karns said the airstrikes are helping create opportunity for the Somali government’s efforts to reach citizens and develop the country’s economy.
The strikes create organizational confusion in terror groups such as Al Shabab and remind its members that “they will be persistently and relentlessly pursued and where necessary, permanently stopped,” he said. Karns also said airstrikes are just one part of the strategy to fight terrorists. The U.S. military and other international partners are working with Somalis to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities and institutions, and create opportunities for economic development, to undercut terrorist groups’ ability to disrupt Somalia.
“The old narratives of the past aren’t indicative of Somalia’s future or where it stands today,” Karns said. “Education and economic opportunities are key to ultimately defeating and eroding the influence of groups like Al Shabaab. However, effective security underpins both.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.