Mogadishu, Somalia — It has been confirmed by the Department of Defense, that a U.S. Navy SEAL operator has lost his life as a result of direct action against al-Shabaab militants during the night-time raid on one of the terror group’s camps. According to reporting from the Pentagon in 2016, 200 to 300 Special Operations forces rotated into and out of Somalia during the Obama administration’s last year in office. During this time, training of the Somali National Army (SNA) troops by Special Operations occurred along with joint ground and drone strikes 215 times in 2016. The Navy’s Tier 1 counter-terrorism unit, SEAL Team 6, who are assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have been heavily involved in these operations since 2013.
Latest casualty reports are indicating that three other SEALS were injured along with one of their interpreters brought on the mission to coordinate with Somali Special Forces troops on the ground during the joint operation. The severity of the medical condition of the injured SEALs is still unknown at this time. SOFREP spoke with several sources close to the Special Operations and JSOC communities in regards to this latest raid. One source who asked to remain anonymous had this to say; “I would be really surprised if it wasn’t ST6 [SEAL Team 6]. My understanding is that pretty much any DA stuff that goes on in Somalia is done by ST6.”
Historically JSOC’s elite SEAL Team 6 works within its own sphere and rarely operates overtly with indigenous host nation forces. This raid was designated a “joint” operation and therefore implies that both the SEALs and Somali Special Forces, who may have come from Somalia’s U.S. Special Operations trained counter-terrorism unit known as The Gaashan, or The Shield, conducted the direct action assault together. SOFREP asked the anonymous source if ST6 could have conducted a joint raid with host nation forces and had this to say; “Historically, my sense has been that a “joint” raid is usually just a cover for ST6 operations. They bring Somalis along but the ST6 guys do the heavy lifting. I don’t know whether that was the case here. Pentagon seems to be indicating strongly it was SEALs.” This drives the narrative within the intelligence community that it was more than likely SEAL Team 6 that executed this assault on an al-Shabaab stronghold.
This line of thought that the moniker ‘joint operation’ is being used as a cover for Special Operations actions was echoed by another source with deep ties to the intelligence community that spoke with SOFREP stated that; “This type of “joint” operation is not uncommon, and has been used in other GWOT theatres as well,” namely within Afghanistan and along the Pakistan border during the height of Operation Enduring Freedom. One thing is clear, the amnesty period that Somalia’s newest leader, President Mohamed Adbullahi Farmaajo offered to al-Shabaab is very much over and indicates that Somalia is now officially a war zone, and the demise of the al-Qaeda linked terror group, al-Shabaab is the primary goal. More U.S. Special Operations joint missions along with an increase of U.S. drone strikes will begin to see more of an uptick in frequency as the fight to save the failed state of Somalia just went live.
This story is developing, SOFREP will continue to track this event and update as needed.
Feature image courtesy of: Foreign Policy