Pentagon identifies soldier killed in Somalia attack

Matt Saintsing
June 10, 2018 - 10:01 am

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army

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The Pentagon on Saturday identified the U.S. Army soldier killed in Somalia as Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Ariz.

Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C, and was killed by indirect enemy fire in support of Operation Octave Shield. Four other U.S. servicemembers and one partner force troop were wounded in the Friday attack, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement

The wounded Americans were treated for their injuries by a U.S. Embassy medical team in neighboring Kenya as they awaited transport "for additional medical evaluation." 

Conrad is the second American to be killed in combat in Somalia since the 1993 Black Hawk down incident. Kyle Milliken, a 38-year-old senior chief special warfare operator from Falmouth, Maine was killed May 5, 2017,  after his team came under enemy small arms fire about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. 

The attack in Jubaland on Friday took place more than 200 miles southwest of Mogadishu and is the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death in Africa since four U.S. troops were killed in an ambush in western Niger last October.

There are about 500 U.S. forces in Somalia at any given time to advise and assist local Somali government forces in their fight against al-Shabaab, the Somali al-Qaeda affiliate, which controls large swaths of the country's rural south and central regions. 

Friday's joint operation was part of a multi-day effort and included about 800 Somali and Kenyan troops. The attack took place at 2:45 pm local time in Jubaland, Somalia. 

Their goal was to "clear al-Shabaab from contested areas, liberate villages from al-Shabaab control, and establish a permanent combat outpost designed to increase the span of Federal Government of Somalia security and governance," said AFRICOM. 

Conrad was born in Mesa, Ariz., and joined the Army in June 2010. After completing basic and other initial training, he was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, as a human intelligence collector. He deployed twice to Afghanistan from Lewis-McChord. 

He then completed the French basic language course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Calif., in 2016, and was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group. 

His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Unit Commendation (second award), the Army Commendation Medal (third award), the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal (second award), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and the Basic Parachutist Badge.

He was also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.