A Fort Bragg soldier was killed and four others were wounded Friday during an attack in Somalia.
Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, was identified by U.S. Army Special Operations Command late Saturday, following the notification of his family.
Conrad was a human intelligence non-commissioned officer assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.
According to U.S. Africa Command, he and other U.S. troops were operating with Somali National Security Forces and Kenyan Defense Forces in southern Somalia, when they came under mortar and small-arms fire about 2:45 p.m. Mogadishu time.
Of the wounded Americans, one was treated in the field and three were medically evacuated, officials said. One partner force soldier was also wounded in the attack.
On Saturday, officials said the wounded Americans "have been treated and discharged and are currently under the care of the U.S. Embassy Medical Team in Kenya, as they await follow-on transportation for additional medical evacuation."
Conrad joined the Army in 2010 and had previously served at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
He deployed twice to Afghanistan before being assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in 2016. His awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, three Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, the Army Service Ribbon, two Overseas Service Ribbons, the NATO Medal, the Basic Parachutist Badge and the Driver and Mechanic Badge.
Conrad was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
According to reports, there are about 500 U.S. troops in Somalia, consisting mostly of special operations forces.
The troops are in Somalia in coordination with the Somali government. They are working to combat the threat posed by terror groups, such as the Islamic State and the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab.
Following Friday's attack, officials said American troops would continue to support partners in Somalia and Africa in an effort "to bring improved governance, development and stability."
"Our strategy in East Africa is to build partner capacity to ensure that violent extremist organizations, who wish harm in the region, with harm on the European continent, and ultimately wish to harm the United States, are contained," said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of the U.S. Africa Command. "Simply put, we're working to prevent atrocious acts before they come to fruition."
The 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers who were attacked on Friday were part of a force of about 800 American, Somali and Kenyan troops conducting a multi-day operation about 350 kilometers south of Mogadishu.
The mission's objectives were to clear the area of fighters belonging to al-Shabaab, liberate villages from the terrorists' control and establish a permanent combat outpost for Somali forces.
The U.S. troops provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission, officials said.
"The [Somali government] is dedicated to restoring peace and stability to the Somali people, and the U.S. supports those efforts," according to U.S. Africa Command. "This mission was specifically designed to increase the (Somali government's) ability to provide vital government services to innocent civilians living under al-Shabaab's rule. The population in the region had historically supported the government, and the Somali forces had prepared for this mission by coordinating heavily with and securing the support of local authorities ahead of time."
Soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group have had a presence in Somalia for several years as part of their renewed focus on north and west Africa following years of constant deployments to Afghanistan.
On any given day, about 400 3rd Group soldiers -- out of about 2,600 -- are deployed, with most of those deployed troops serving in Africa.
Conrad's death was the first loss for the group since October, when four 3rd Group soldiers were killed during a complex ambush near Tongo Tongo, Niger.
Last month, 3rd Group dedicated seven memorial stones to soldiers who died in Africa in the previous year. They included the four soldiers killed in Niger -- Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Bryan Black -- and three soldiers killed in noncombat incidents in Kenya, Niger and Mali -- Sgt. 1st Class Zachary A. Bannister, Warrant Officer Shawn D. Thomas and Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar.
Conrad is the second U.S. service member killed in Somalia in a little over a year.
In May 2017, a Navy SEAL was killed fighting al-Shabaab. That was the first combat death in Somalia for an American service member since October 1993, when the Battle of Mogadishu took place.
The two-day battle was depicted in the book, "Black Hawk Down," and the movie of the same name.
Eighteen American soldiers were killed during the battle, including five members of the Fort Bragg-based 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. A sixth soldier from the unit was killed by mortar fire two days after the battle.
This article is written by Drew Brooks from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.