October 05, 2018

Al Shabaab Area of Operations: October 2018

Al Shabaab Area of Operations October 2018

Support Zone: area free of significant enemy action that permits the effective logistics and administrative support of forces.[1]

Attack Zone
: area where units conduct offensive maneuvers.[2]

The U.S. military intensified direct action operations against al Shabaab, which has disrupted the group’s offensive campaigns but has not changed where it operates. U.S. forces conducted over 50 airstrikes and accompanied Somali forces on dozens of counterterrorism raids targeting al Shabaab camps and high-level commanders since March 30, 2017, when the U.S. administration declared Somalia an area of active hostilities.[3] The Somali National Army (SNA) has not held the terrain captured from al Shabaab in joint operations with African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, however, which has limited the effectiveness of these efforts.[4] Al Shabaab holds territory surrounding the capital, Mogadishu, from which it coordinates complex attacks targeting the Somali Federal Government.[5] Increased counterterrorism pressure may have reduced the overall volume of attacks in Mogadishu, but the city is not yet secure.[6] Key al Shabaab sanctuaries persist in central Somalia, especially in Lower and Middle Shabelle regions, and in southern Somalia in Bay, Gedo, and Middle and Lower Jubba regions. Al Shabaab is able to project force from Somalia and safe havens along the eastern border with Kenya to attack Kenyan security forces and soft targets in Kenya’s Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Lamu counties.[7] U.S.-backed counterterrorism efforts will limit al Shabaab’s ability to conduct major offensive campaigns, but are not sufficient to defeat the group. Al Shabaab will also reestablish its presence in populated areas in Somalia should Somali security forces not backfill AMISOM forces during the planned drawdown beginning in February 2019.[8]

Characterizing al Shabaab’s regional operations: