An American service member was killed in Somalia Friday and four others were wounded in a firefight with Al Shabab fighters, according to U.S. Africa Command (Africom).
"During an operation June 8, 2018, in Jubaland, Somalia, one U.S. Special Operations member was killed and four U.S. service members and one partner force was wounded as the result of an enemy attack," according to an Africom statement. "Names are being withheld pending next of kin notification. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the service members."
The soldier was identified Saturday as Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad, 26, from Chandler, Arizona, according to the Department of Defense. Conrad was a member of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Conrad served two tours in Afghanistan in 2012-2013 and 2014.
He was a highly decorated soldier, earning a Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal, among others.
The American forces were advising and assisting a large force of 800 Somali and Kenyan military forces that was part of a multi-day operation in an area of Jubaland located 217 miles southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
"The mission's objectives were 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 (FGS) security and governance," said the Africom statement. "The U.S. provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission."
"The combined Somali National Security Forces (SNSF), Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) and U.S. force came under mortar and small-arms fire at approximately 2:45 p.m. Mogadishu time, killing one U.S. service member and injuring four U.S. service members and one partner force member," said the statement.
"One of the wounded U.S service members received sufficient medical care in the field. Three U.S. service members and the one partner force wounded were medically evacuated to receive additional treatment."
This is the second U.S. military fatality in Somalia in the last year.
There are about 500 U.S. troops in Somalia on an advise and assist mission to help the Somali military in its fight against al Shabab, an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group.