Report on Niger ambush cites multiple failures

The report summary includes recommendations to improve mission planning and approval procedures, re-evaluate equipment and weapons requirements, and review training that USA commandos conduct with partner forces.

He told National Public Radio, "I would not personally characterize them as mistakes".

The investigation found a series of errors leading up to the deadly mission and recommended taking "appropriate action" against three people for specific failures, such as mischaracterizing the US troops' initial mission as civil-military reconnaissance, Cloutier said.

Investigators credited Nigerien and French forces for responding to the scene and "likely saving the lives of the surviving members of the" USA team.

Amid the chaos, he says, there were repeated acts of bravery as the outnumbered and outgunned soldiers made split-second decisions under heavy fire, struggling to protect and rescue each other during the more than hourlong assault. But it concludes that "although the report details the compounding impact of tactical and operational decisions, no single failure or deficiency was the sole reason for the events of 4 October 2017".

The report summary includes recommendations to improve mission planning and approval procedures, re-evaluate equipment and weapons requirements, and review training that USA commandos conduct with partner forces. The document "contributed to a general lack of situational awareness and command oversight at every echelon". The Pentagon reportedly plans to release a redacted version of the full report eventually.

Pentagon officials said that none of the roughly 800 US troops stationed in Niger are meant to engage in direct combat.

The combat - along with at least 10 other previously unreported attacks on USA troops in West Africa from 2015 to 2017 - indicated that the deadly October 4 ambush was not an isolated episode in a country where the United States is building a major drone base.

The troops were hunting for a high-ranking Islamic State militant, but their leaders submitted a less risky mission for command approval, the report says.

US ARMY

Sometime after meeting with local community leaders, they were ambushed by ISIS-affiliated fighters.

- The team, which included 30 Nigerians, did not rehearse the mission before leaving the base in Ouallam, Niger, for a mission near the town of Tiloa.

Senior commanders, unaware of the team's earlier actions, then ordered the troops to serve as backup for a second team's raid, also targeting Chefou. They also prohibited units from relying on a specific kind of mission planning process - as was used in the fateful October 4 patrol - that gave more autonomy to troops on the ground. On their way back to their home base they stopped at the village of Tongo Tongo to get water. La David Johnson and three other soldiers dead after an ambush in Niger, near the village of Tongo Tongo. "Additionally, there is insufficient evidence to determine if villagers aided the enemy or participated in the attack".

Those killed in the patrol were Sgt.

Officials at the Pentagon said Thursday the bodies of all four soldiers - Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt.

"Our troops were in Niger to "train and equip" the Nigerian military". None were captured alive by the enemy, and all died immediately or quickly from their wounds, it said. His body was not found until two days after the attack. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr., chief of staff for U.S. Africa Command and the lead investigating officer of the incident.

Officials spent months trying to unravel the complex incident, conducting dozens of interviews. Wright's family was invited to Fort Stewart for a briefing on the ambush investigation.

"The whole thing was a screwed-up mess", Wright said.

"Inappropriate for us at this point in time to say specific punishments, but again, the chain of command responsibilities will be looked at", Waldhauser said at Thursday's press conference.

Vanessa Coleman

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