As soon as he took the oath of office on January 20, President Joe Biden secretly put a halt on drone strikes and airstrikes outside of the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. 

That move reversed the policy of the Trump administration that gave the power to military and CIA officials on the ground to combat terrorism. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama had instituted a halt on such airstrikes, requiring White House approval before airstrikes were approved. 

The Biden administration is placing the same suspension on airstrikes whereby they will first have to be approved by the White House, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said.

Kirby said this “interim guidance” was issued “to ensure that the president has full visibility on proposed significant actions.”

“It’s not meant to be permanent and it doesn’t mean a cessation [of strikes],” he said at a news conference.

“We are clearly focused on the persistent threat of violent extremist organizations. And we’re clearly still going to be committed to working with international partners to counter those threats,” he added in a statement. 

But for our Somali partners battling al-Shabaab terrorists, this halt on airstrikes has them worried that the al-Qaeda-aligned group, which has already been emboldened recently, will grow even more. 

“Lack of strikes mean al-Shabaab leaders will come out of hiding,” an unnamed senior Somali military commander, said to Voice Of America’s Somali Service.