The Daily(ish) Review

The Daily Edit: The Daily Beast reporting on military operations in Somalia

I couldn't sleep, so I figured I'd read some news, which these days is not a smart remedy for sleeplessness. One of the first articles I opened provided some material for The Daily Edit. Before I continue, I want to mention again that The Daily Edit is not about mocking or belittling writers. We all make typos, cut and paste errors, and wording choices that sometimes don't work. That's on a slow day without distractions. The likelihood of errors increases when you're moving from one story to the next, multi-tasking, and trying to meet deadlines while coordinating with other writers and editors. This is simply a forum to look at language and writing. I can guarantee I'll make my own typos and awkward wording choices.

Here's the article I stumbled on:

To Ambush and Kill American Green Berets, Al Shabaab Diverted a River [The Daily Beast, Christina Goldbaum, 10 June]

The Somali rebels knew where the U.S. Special Operators and their allied troops would have to deploy. By flooding terrain, they left them little choice.

- From the context we know what the author means, but it still seems oddly worded. If the U.S. forces had to deploy to a particular location, they already had little choice. Again, we know what the author meant. I don't think I'd capitalize special operators. It's become an increasingly recognizable term, but I don't think it's a specific unit designation.

The American soldier killed in Southern Somalia on Friday was part of a joint operation which had been in the works for years, The Daily Beast has learned. And by the time it began, the enemy was ready and waiting.

According to a U.S. Africa Command press release, combined force of Somalis, Kenyans, and Americans was conducting a multi-day operation to liberate villages in Lower Juba from Al Shabaab control and establish “a permanent combat outpost designed to increase the span of Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) security and governance.” Al Shabaab has been waging an insurgency to create an Islamic state in Somalia since 2006. In 2012, the group pledged its allegiance to Al Qaeda.

- The author refers to a combat outpost here. Later the author uses the acronym COP. I think that's short for combat outpost. If so, best to mention the acronym here next to the term.

Late Saturday, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command confirmed the identity of the soldier killed as 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad of Chandler, Arizona. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. His specialty was gathering human intelligence.

- Very sorry to read this.

The allied offensive’s target, the Jubba River Corridor, has long been a stronghold for Al Shabaab and one of its main transit routes into and out of northern Kenya, making the capture of the area a prime objective for allied forces.

- Long (1x)

With the area now a marshland – a literal quagmire – the joint force was compelled to seek higher ground to build their COP in an area two kilometers away from the central village of Sanguni. The exact spot is called “Baar” or “Baarka Sanguni”: once home to a bar run by the Italians who colonized the area and managed the farms along the Jubba River. It’s situated on a hill under the shade of mango and banana trees, and in colonial times a semicircular wall enclosed a garden where Italians and well-to-do Somalis clinked wine glasses and enjoyed a light breeze coming off the river. By the time the joint force arrived with their trucks and excavators, physical remnants of that history were long gone.

- Here we see the acronym COP. If it was used earlier in relation to combat outpost, I missed it.

- Long (2x)

It comes as the Pentagon considers drawing down counter-terrorism forces across the continent. The proposed cut is the result of a review of American commando operations in Africa following the death of four U.S. soldiers in Niger last fall and is part of a wider discussion about aligning U.S. Africa Command operations with the new National Defense Strategy, which focuses on countering threats from global powers like China and Russia. If approved, the proposed drawdown would cut the number of American commandos in Africa by as much as 50 percent over the next three years.

- I'd use "deaths of four U.S. soldiers" vs. "death of four U.S. soldiers".

- 50% of How Many Total? My point is that the % decrease doesn't give the reader enough context or information to assess whether this is a large or small / significant or insignificant number.

U.S. Africa Command has some military presence in virtually every country on the continent, and while the proposed cut would likely significantly affect countries with already small American footprints, it may not have as large an impact in places like Somalia, which pose a more immediate terrorist threat and has long been a counter-terrorism project of the U.S., according to American security officials.

- Long (3x)

The Jubba River Corridor operation was itself the result of mounting political pressure. International donors to the AMISOM peacekeeping force have wanted it to demonstrate its effectiveness, which pushed AMISOM and its partners to finally undertake the long-planned offensive, according to American and AMISOM officials.

- Long (4x)

The European Union, the main financial donor to AMISOM, is currently reviewing its longstanding commitment to the peacekeeping force in light of new financial commitments related to security in the Sahel and migration to Europe. According to the Institute for Security Studies, E.U. officials are concerned about the effectiveness of the force given its lack of major offensive action since mid-2015. Countries contributing troops to AMISOM contend that the force has not had sufficient resources to undertake significant offensives in that time.

- Long (5x)

In early February, a joint force of American Special Operators, African Union Peacekeepers, and the Somali National Security Forces retook Mubarak Town, the center of Al Shabaab’s “Mogadishu Attack Network” which is used to create and move vehicle-born IEDs (car and truck bombs) from the Lower Shabelle region into Mogadishu. But a few days later, when many of the allied troops withdrew to a nearby AMISOM Forward Operating Base, Al Shabaab militants returned and threw scores of civilians in prison claiming they had passed information to the allied forces.

- I would use borne here instead of born - vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Jubba River Corridor operation was supposed to remedy that sort of problem, and AFRICOM says it will continue. But Somali and AMISOM officials have expressed concern that the death of a U.S. soldier could stir the Pentagon to further restrict the operations of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Somalia, or increase the drawdown, which they say would disrupt an already fragile security situation.

- First use of AFRICOM, which is an acronym or alternate reference to Africa Command. I'd recommend putting AFRICOM in parentheses next to the first instance of Africa Command.