Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Pentagon Reveals Details of Deadly Niger Ambush

Pentagon Reveals Details of Deadly Niger Ambush

A lengthy investigation discovered that the USA soldiers did not call for air support until 53 minutes after contact with the enemy forces began.

- Sgt. La David Johnson's "hands were not bound and he was not executed but was killed in action while actively engaging the enemy".

He said the report, which has not yet been made public in full, singles out three individuals whose actions could be faulted.

After a stay in the village, that ABC News has previously reported lasted 90 minutes, the convoy of US and Nigerien forces left Tongo Tongo at 11:40 am.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier, chief of staff, U.S. Africa Command, and lead investigating officer, briefs members of the media at the Pentagon, May 10, 2018.

Another factor in the incident, according to the report summary, was a US commander mistakenly ordering an attempt to go after a local ISIL leader. U.S. Special Operations Command will make any discipline decisions, as well as recommendations on awards for valor, Waldhauser said, adding he believes there will be awards for numerous acts of extraordinary bravery by the troops.

Mattis also has directed U.S. Special Operations Command to review training, operating procedures, operational-level planning and other relevant factors, and he has directed the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness to review DOD policies that adversely affect units' cohesion and lethality.

The summary lays out a confusing chain of events that unfolded on October 3-4, ending in the ambush, and points to "individual, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies that contributed to the tragic events".

Insufficient training and preparation, command mistakes, lack of attention to detail and an outnumbered force taken by surprise in an attack all contributed to the loss of the soldiers, according to an eight-page report summarizing an internal investigation. Most are involved in the construction of a new air base there.

The Army Special Forces team, assisting the Nigerien forces, initially left Camp Ouallam in Niger on October 3 to hunt for a high-ranking Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant linked to the kidnapping of a USA aid worker, the military said.

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The briefing, he said, gave the impression "that the captain, the team leader, that he mischaracterized the mission" as one to reach out to local leaders rather than a mission to target the insurgent.

The language used for the mission - in which the soldiers initially did not even wear body armor - had been cut and paste from prior operations and was plagued by "a lack of attention to detail in quality control and quality assurance", the report summary states. That mission was aborted when weather grounded the second team.

Further, the report found the team did not conduct pre-mission rehearsals or battle drills with their Nigerien partner force.

On the way back to its base, after carrying out a separate mission to gather intelligence, the team stopped at the village of Tongo Tongo to resupply.

Investigators said they were unable to determine whether the IS-linked fighters got any help from villagers in Tongo Togo. La David Johnson, whose body was not discovered for almost two days following the skirmish after he and two Nigerien soldiers were separated from the team and killed almost a half mile from the location where they were ambushed. Three of the bodies were located near empty enemy vehicles, which indicated there was an attempt on the part of the terrorists to bring the bodies away with them. La David Johnson and three other soldiers dead after an ambush in Niger, near the village of Tongo Tongo.

Search teams did not find his remains for two days following the battle because his last location was outside the original search area.

Families of the fallen have expressed frustration with the incident and the briefings they got.

The months-long investigation presented the first complete narrative of the circumstances surrounding the deadly ambush in northern Niger on October 4 that killed Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Sgt.

Cloutier noted that training issues, soldier skills and requirements, the mischaracterization of missions, and communication among the chain of command were discovered during his investigation.

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