The U.S. service member killed Saturday in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan has been identified as Maj. Brent Taylor, a Utah Army National Guard soldier who also served as the mayor of North Ogden, Utah.
Taylor, 39, was a military intelligence officer with Utah’s Joint Force Headquarters. He was serving with the Special Operations Joint Task Force in Afghanistan when he was killed, the Utah Guard said in a statement.
Another soldier was wounded in the same attack in Kabul. That soldier was reported to be in stable condition after receiving medical treatment at Bagram Airfield.
Initial reports indicate the attacker was a member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement Saturday morning.
The attacker was immediately killed by other Afghan partner forces, according to reports received by USFOR-A.
The incident is under investigation.
“We are devastated by the loss of our mayor and friend, Brent Taylor,” according to a statement on the North Ogden City Facebook page. “Our hearts and thoughts go to Jennie, their children, and other family members as they deal with this tragic loss. We love them and hope they will feel the love and support of all of us in North Ogden.”
The site went on to describe the “profound influence” Taylor had on the community, a city of more than 17,000 people about 45 miles north of Salt Lake City.
“He was the best of men with the ability to see potential and possibility in everything around him,” according to the post. “We feel blessed to have had him as our mayor.”
Taylor deployed in January as part of an advisory team to train members of an Afghan commando battalion, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. He often posted updates on Facebook of the work he was doing with the Afghan soldiers, the newspaper reported.
His last Facebook post, on Oct. 28, highlighted a successful election in Afghanistan.
Taylor, a graduate of Brigham Young University, was commissioned in July 2006. He was on his fourth deployment, according to the Utah Guard. He deployed twice to Iraq, in 2006 and again in 2007, and served in Afghanistan in 2012.
He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, according to the Utah Guard.
On this most recent deployment, he deployed to Afghanistan as a combat adviser to the Afghan border police.
“Today we mourn the loss of a remarkable American,” said Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, the adjutant general of the Utah Guard, in a statement. “Major Brent R. Taylor was a patriot whose personal life resonated with excellence. From his commitment to education, to his passion for politics, Brent was dedicated to making a difference.”
“Devastating news,” Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox wrote on his Facebook page. ""I hate this. I’m struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his seven sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family."
“Brent was a hero, a patriot, a wonderful father, and a dear friend,” U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said on Twitter. “News of his death in Afghanistan is devastating. My prayers and love are with Jennie and his 7 young children. His service will always be remembered.”
The speaker of the Utah House of Representatives also paid tribute to Taylor.
“This is unbelievably tragic. Brent was the only person I personally knew who was able to share his deployment on social media,” Speaker Greg Hughes wrote on Facebook. "His pictures and descriptions gave me a deeper understanding of our military’s service and sacrifice. The last post I read was about Afghanistan’s free and open elections. Today, the humbling reality that freedom isn’t free is a bitter pill to swallow. God Bless Mayor Taylor and his family. We love, cherish and support you.”
This was the latest in a series of apparent insider attacks in Afghanistan in recent months. Just last month, an insider attack where Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was present, killed a key Afghan general and wounded an American one-star general.
In September, the senior enlisted soldier of 3rd Squadron, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade was killed in an insider attack. Another soldier from the SFAB was killed in July, also in an insider attack.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.