A medical evacuation helicopter reached five United States soldiers in Somalia on Friday roughly 20 minutes after they radioed that they were being shelled by Islamist militants, according to a military spokesman, a prompt response that underlines the disparity in American military resources spread across Africa.
One of the soldiers, Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Ariz., who was identified by the Pentagon on Saturday, died from his injuries shortly after he arrived at an American base in Kismayo, a town about 225 miles southwest of Mogadishu. The four other Americans were wounded in the attack by the militant group the Shabab.
The response to the firefight stood in stark contrast to the one after a bloody ambush in October on the Niger-Mali border in West Africa, when it took more than four hours to evacuate the wounded.
American troops have found themselves fighting militants affiliated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in several countries on the African continent.