Report on Niger ambush cites multiple failures

Democrat says ‘people will be held accountable’ for Niger ambush reportedly putting him at odds with Pentagon

Sen. Time Kaine said Wednesday that"people will be held accountable for an ISIS ambush in Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead

The language used for the initial mission had been cut and pasted from previous operations and "a lack of attention to detail in quality control and quality assurance", together with inadequate approvals, "all contributed to a general lack of situational awareness and command oversight at every echelon", the report summary states. Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr. told reporters during a Pentagon press conference.

The troops were killed in an ambush by fighters from militant group Islamic State (ISIS) near the village of Tongo Tongo, by the Mali border, in October 2017. "Again, the responsibility is mine", he added.

Officials said contrary to some earlier reports, none of the USA forces were captured before they were killed, though the IS-linked fighters did strip their bodies of serviceable equipment.

"We are now far more prudent in our missions", said Waldhauser. "We've increased the ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capacity". "We have beefed up a lot of things posture-wise in regards to these missions". He directed a number of specific actions to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations on Department personnel practices to improve operational units' readiness and lethality.

"The direct cause of the enemy attack in Tongo Tongo is that the enemy achieved tactical surprise there and our forces were outnumbered there approximately three to one". The clash lasted more than an hour. Johnson's body wasn't found until two days later.

Killed in the battle were Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39; Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35; Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29; and Sgt.

Apart from the four, five Nigerian soldiers were killed and eight Nigeriens and two Americans were wounded when a group of armed Islamic State militants attacked them in Tongo Tongo, Niger, on October 4 while they were returning to base after a mission.

In addition, the report found only half of the US team involved had conducted any collective training together due to personnel turnover, and they didn't complete pre-mission drills with the Nigerien forces.

However, the USA team commander had "inaccurately characterized" the nature of the mission in order to get it approved at a low level instead of requesting permission from battalion-level commanders based in Chad.

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

The report concludes that although the enemy can move freely around the village area, "there is not enough evidence to conclude that the villagers of Tongo Tongo willingly (without duress) aid and support them".

The abstract lays out a complicated chain of occasions that unfolded October 3-4, ending within the ambush, and factors to "particular person, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies that contributed to the tragic occasions".

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

His body was treated like all the other remains - both USA and Nigerien: "His serviceable equipment was stripped and taken from him".

The report commends the fallen soldiers, and says they "gave their last full measure of devotion to our country and died with honor while actively engaging the enemy". Now about 800 United States troops are in Niger.

Senators who were given a closed-door briefing of the findings on Tuesday questioned the broader mission on the continent, including whether the Pentagon has concealed from Congress the true nature of its operations in Africa. French helicopters arrived later and evacuated the surviving U.S. Soldiers.

Asked directly if he thinks the military was hiding from Congress what it was doing, Kaine responded, "Yeah". AFRICOM conducted a thorough investigation of the events and circumstances relevant to the ambush to provide the answers the Nation and the families deserve.

"This report documents critical lessons learned for the continuing fight against violent extremist organizations around the world", White said in a statement.

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