SEAL Killed In Somalia Identified

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A Navy SEAL who was killed in a raid targeting a remote compound used by Shabab militants in Somalia was identified Saturday as Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken of Falmouth, Maine.


Milliken, 38, is the first U.S. service member killed in combat in Somalia since the infamous “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993 that left 18 U.S. military personnel dead, according to the Pentagon.

Officials said the U.S. force was accompanying Somali National Army soldiers during an assault on a Shabab compound near Barij, about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, when they came under attack before dawn Friday.

The militants were “associated with some attacks on facilities that we use and that our Somali partners use nearby,” said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

He said the Americans were there to “advise and assist” the Somali government troops and were not part of the team assigned to enter the compound. Milliken had been assigned to a special warfare unit based on the East Coast in the U.S.

After U.S. helicopters dropped Somali troops outside the compound, a firefight broke out. The Americans couldn’t take cover immediately and were hit during an “early phase of the mission,” Davis said.

The episode comes as the U.S. military expands operations against Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida. The group has carried out lethal bombings and attacks across Somalia and neighboring Kenya for more than a decade.

Last month, the White House granted the Pentagon broader authority than during the Obama administration to launch airstrikes and conduct operations against Shabab.

But Davis said the Barij raid was carried out “under the same authorities that we’ve had since we began our operations there in 2013, which is to advise and assist on these types of missions.”

U.S. Africa Command has provided intelligence, training and logistical support to the Somali army and to African Union troops battling Shabab since 2013. Hundreds of U.S. special forces rotate through Somalia annually.

U.S. drone strikes have killed several of Shabab’s top commanders, according to U.S. assessments.

The Sunni Muslim militia overran Mogadishu in 2006 after its fighters ousted local warlords. The group then enforced strict Islamic law; it was illegal to play soccer or listen to music.

African Union troops retook Mogadishu in 2011 and drove Shabab from many towns in the south, including major ports that had provided significant revenue. But the militants remain a potent force in some rural areas.

Milliken was the fourth U.S. service member killed in combat in eight days.

Two Army Rangers — Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Ill., and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio — died during a battle against Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan on April 27. Two days later, 1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Ga., died during fighting to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State.

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©2017 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.

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U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.

The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

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