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Series of failures led to deadly Niger ambush, Pentagon report says

May 10, 2018

On Oct. 3, the special forces team, along with partner Nigerien forces, set out on a mission to target a key Islamic State militant near the village of Tiloa, Niger. The team had not trained for this mission and did not notify higher-level commanders that it would be undertaking it.

While the team mischaracterized this mission, the report did not find a direct link between that and the ambush that killed the four U.S. soldiers.

The top U.S. general said last year that the team was on a reconnaissance mission.

Series of failures led to deadly Niger ambush, Pentagon report saysSeries of failures led to deadly Niger ambush, Pentagon report says

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. It was then that the U.S. soldiers, along with their Nigerien partners, were ambushed by 50 militants.

The report and a 10-minute video shown to reporters details the gun battle and how at one point U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson sought to run away from the militants. He was ultimately killed about 3,300 feet away from his vehicle.

The report leaves key questions unanswered, such as why the team took nearly an hour to call for support after it had come under fire and who will be held accountable.

As a result of the incident, the U.S. military has ordered a review of training for special forces soldiers working with foreign partners and policies on pre-deployment training, and U.S. Africa Command is seeking to create clear guidance on the planning and approval of military operations.

In Niger, Washington has deployed around 800 soldiers, runs a drone base in the capital, Niamey, and is building a second in Agadez at a cost of around $100 million.

Image: A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware
Soldiers transfer the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Georgia, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Oct. 5.Aaron J. Jenne / U.S. Air Force via Reuters

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