The classified Pentagon investigation concerning the death of four U.S. soldiers in Niger last October during an ambush placed the blame squarely on the unit and listed a list of shortcomings including complacency and a lack of training.
Citing a culture of “excessive risk”, low-level commanders took shortcuts to approve operations — with at least one officer lifting orders from a different mission and pasting them onto the “so-called concept of operations to gain approval,” officials said.
Initially, the mission on Oct. 3, 2017, that ultimately sent the Army Special Forces team, along with Nigerian soldiers, into a deadly ambush, was a planned meeting with local officials. However, the team was redirected to assist in a search for Doundou Chefou, a militant suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American aid worker.
Upon returning, the team was later attacked by Islamic State-linked militants in a village near Tongo Tongo, resulting in the deaths of four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops on Oct. 4.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday he has given a 200-page classified summary to Congress.
Mattis acknowledged Thursday there was not one but many problems that led to the American soldiers being ambushed by roughly 50 heavily armed ISIS-affiliated fighters more than six months ago in West Africa.
Mattis said: “I think right now we have found what we believe to be the crux of the problems, not problem but problems that contributed to this. It was not a delegation of authority problem. So, we know immediately how to address and we are doing that right now.”
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the report would come down hard on the unit. Since the Pentagon has changed the narrative on this operation several times since the October ambush.
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