The three wounded U.S. service members and the Kenyan soldier were evacuated by military aircraft and the United States troops are in "stable condition", receiving medical care outside of Somalia, according to one USA military official familiar with the operation.
The incident happened Friday afternoon as U.S. service members came under mortar and small arms fire while accompanying some 800 Somali and Kenyan troops in Jubaland, Somalia, roughly 350 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement. The attack marks the first known combat death of a U.S. service member in Africa since the October 4 ambush of United States and Nigerien forces which claimed the lives of four American troops and five Nigeriens.
One US service member received medical treatment in the field while the three other wounded service members were evacuated, the statement said.
The U.S. troops' role was to provide advice, assistance and aerial surveillance to the Somali and Kenyan forces as they cleared al-Shabaab militants from villages and established a combat outpost.
That incident caused a firestorm in Washington as lawmakers demanded answers on the operation and the larger USA mission in Africa.
The names of the victims are being withheld pending next of kin notification.
The casualty, coming less than a year after the death in Niger of four Army special operations soldiers, could raise further questions about the presence of USA troops on remote missions in Africa.
A U.S. surveillance aircraft was also flying overhead during the incident according to two United States officials. The condition of the injured American troops remains unknown.
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A US Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) came under attack today in the Bar-Sanguni area near Kismayo in Somalia. Or know another veteran, service member, or military spouse who is?
Miliken's was the first US combat death in Somalia since 1993, when 18 USA service members died battling Somali militiamen in an episode that became known as "Black Hawk Down". Though the Pentagon initially described Miliken as operating behind Somali troops, US officials later acknowledged that USA special operations soldiers had been fighting together with the Somali forces.
USA military operations in Africa have come under greater scrutiny since an October 4 ambush by Islamic State militants in the West African country of Niger left four US soldiers dead.
A US military report on that incident publicized by the Pentagon last month without being fully released found that multiple individual and institutional failures left the USA troops vulnerable to the ambush.
Waldhauser was briefing the press on the findings of an investigation into the Niger incident.
"We are now far more prudent", Waldhauser said.
The US military says its forces operate on an "advise and assist" mission with the Somali National Army. Though the group remains primarily a regional threat, the USA military has deployed to Somalia to prevent the extremists from operating freely in a safe haven.