Michael Goodboe, a senior CIA officer, died of injuries sustained in a terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia. Goodboe was a former member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and belonged to the Special Activities Center, the agency’s paramilitary division. No additional information surrounding his death has been released.
The officer’s death will add another star on the memorial wall located inside the CIA’s headquarters in Virginia. The wall pays tribute to CIA service members killed in the line of duty. Having personally stood at the seal on the floor and looked at the wall, I can attest that you can only be humbled by the honor and sacrifice those agents exhibited.
In September, the CIA had tweeted that the wall featured 135 stars in honor of fallen officers.
The U.S. has roughly 700 troops in Somalia. They are tasked with assisting and working with local forces to defeat al-Shabaab the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.
Al-Shabaab is estimated to have between 5,000 and 9,000 fighters. The terrorist organization has vowed to overthrow the Somali government, which is supported by some 20,000 troops from the African Union.
On Monday an IED attack by al-Shabaab killed six members of Danab, the elite Somali SF unit that is trained by the U.S.
Earlier this month, Washington put on its terror blacklist the leader of al-Shabaab blamed for a January attack in Kenya that killed three Americans.
Goodboe’s death comes after President Trump had suggested he may withdraw the U.S. troops from Somalia in the near future. Facing the end of his tenure, the president is pushing to accelerate troop withdrawals from counterterrorism conflicts since one of his 2016 campaign promises was to put an end to the longstanding wars.
At the start of his term, Trump gave the Pentagon a freer hand to expand its operations, with both airstrikes and ground raids, in the war-ravaged African country. But according to an official report released in February, “despite continued U.S. airstrikes in Somalia and U.S. assistance to African partner forces, al-Shabaab appears to be a growing threat that aspires to strike the U.S. homeland.”
President Trump’s aspirations have, for a long time, been running into resistance: His national security officials have been arguing that abandoning such troubled countries as Somalia could have catastrophic consequences — as when the United States pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving a vacuum that fostered the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The president has also repeatedly pushed to withdraw from Syria. Still, several hundred U.S. troops remain stationed there, partly to protect coveted oil fields, held by the American-backed Syrian Kurdish allies, from being seized by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The current deliberations over U.S. withdrawals from Somalia would not affect the troops in Syria, officials have said.
Tellingly, the U.S. forces stationed in nearby Kenya and Djibouti, where the American drones carrying out airstrikes in Somalia are based, would also be excluded from a potential withdrawal.