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.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005
Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.
Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.