Death of Army intelligence soldier during attack in Somalia sheds light on operations

Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad, 26, assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, was killed June 8, 2018, in an enemy attack in Jubaland, Somalia. (Army)

A support soldier for the United States Army Special Forces was killed in a mortar attack in Somalia, shedding light on US forces in the region.

Killed during Operation Octave Shield, Staff Sergeant Alexander Conrad lost his life at 26 years after being mortally wounded during a mortar/rocket attack on his position, an impersonal assault leaving four other Americans and one partner member soldier wounded.

Assigned to the1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Conrad was not a Green Beret, instead serving in a support role.

According to a press release from the Department of Defense, Conrad was an Arizona native and was killed on June 8.

An operation that has been going on since it was known as Operation Enduring Freedom-Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA) in 2005, Operation Octave Shield involves the routing out of radical Islamic terror cells in the region through the training, assistance, and advising of local allies.

In Somalia, US troops work with Kenyan and Somali forces to tackle -among other factions- Al-Shabaab, a particularly brutal Al-Qaeda franchise whose name means “the youngsters.”

Al-Shabaab was once known for having US-born members, such as Omar Shafik Hammami of Daphne, Alabama. A former commander, propagandist, and recruiter, Hammami was killed by Al-Shabaab during a period of in-fighting in 2013.

The American military’s fight in Africa is a difficult one, however- resources in the region seem to be spread rather thin, despite a 500-US troop contingent in Somalia and other assets across Northern and Central Africa.

After the enemy bombardment at the base, it took a USAF Pave Hawk rescue helicopter twenty minutes to arrive at the base after being scrambled from the coastal city of Kismayo five minutes after reports of an attack.  According to the New York Times, a military spokesperson says this the quick response “underlines the disparity in American military resources spread across Africa,” which were unable to rescue U.S. Special Forces when they came under attack in Niger.

the USAF HH-60G flew additional missions after the first medevac and a C-130 took Conrad and two others out of country shortly after the final sortie.

The Army Times reported that Conrad was a human intelligence collector, spoke French and had two Afghan deployments prior to being attached to 3rd SFG.

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