United States vows to restore peace in Somalia despite death of service member

One U.S. service member was killed yesterday during an operation against al-Shabaab in a remote area of Shabeellaha Hoose in Somalia, approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken", said U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement.

Milliken was on a mission advising Somali National Army forces.

Timothy Szymanski, a unit commander, remembers Milliken as "embodying the warrior spirit and toughness infused in our very best Navy SEALs".

The battle saw two American Black Hawk helicopters shot down, sparking a desperate rescue mission that resulted in hundreds of deaths, including many civilians and the United States personnel.

It goes on to say, "He was a devoted father and son, a true professional and a wonderful husband".

The US pulled out of Somalia after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.

In recent years, the USA has sent a small number of special operations forces and counterterrorism advisers to Somalia and conducted airstrikes.

Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the service member, who has not been identified, was killed as a team of U.S. troops provided support to a Somali army mission targeting a Shabab cell believed to be linked to plots against U.S., Somali and African Union forces. Navy SEALs were advising Somali troops on the mission.

The episode comes as the US military expands operations against Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida.

U.S. special forces have been deployed in Somalia for years, while Washington has carried out countless drone strikes on Shabaab targets.

US military and counterterrorism advisors have been present in Somalia for at least a decade and regularly coordinate drone strikes against Al-Shabab.

It was the first American combat death in Somalia since the early 1990s when the USA intervened in the country in an effort to tamp down sectarian warfare and relieve a growing humanitarian disaster after the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991.

"Warsame played a key role in the Amniyat, the wing of al-Shabaab responsible for assassinations and the April 2, 2015 attack on Garissa University College that resulted in 150 deaths", said a statement on the Rewards for Justice website run by the U.S. State Department. Then after the barrage witnesses claim to have seen "troops running out of the [helicopters]", and directly into a fire fight with al-Shabaab militants. "It is a victory for the Somali forces and for peacemaking", the statement added.

  • Joey Payne