US Special Forces Who Were Attacked By Over 50 Islamic Militants In Niger Did Not Call For Help For An Hour
Questions remain over the 4 October gun battle in which four US soldiers – Staff Sgt Bryan Black, Sgt La David Johnson, Staff Sgt Dustin Wright and Staff Sgt Jeremiah Johnson – were killed.
Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a US drone provided video footage of the scene “within minutes” – but he conceded it was many hours before the wounded and killed were evacuated.
At that time Sgt La David Johnson was “still missing”, the general said. His body was retrieved nearly two days later – and his death would later provoke controversy regarding alleged comments by President Donald Trump to his widow.
“It’s important to note when they didn’t ask for support for that first hour, my judgment would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without additional support,” General Dunford said. “And so well we’ll find out in the investigation exactly why it took an hour for them to call.”
He added that there was so far “no indication” the troops went outside of their orders despite speculation to that end.
General Dunford said the dozen US soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission with 30 troops from Niger near the village of Tongo Tongo, north of the capital Niamey.
The general conceded he was lacking details about the circumstances.
“We owe the families of the fallen more information, and that’s what the investigation is designed to identify,” he said.
US troops are in Niger as part of a training and advising mission to help local forces learn to deal with the various al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked groups.
A senior US intelligence official told ABC News the group became suspicious when they saw two motorcycles race out the village and sensed the elder they were meeting was trying to stall them.
Senator John McCain, a Vietnam war veteran and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has demanded a full explanation by the White House.
I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
Fellow Republican Senator James Lankford, of Oklahoma, told CBS News: “At this point we have conflicting stories. We want to be able to get the full accurate story and get it right.”
It comes amid a growing dispute over a call between President Trump and Sgt La David Johnson’s widow.
Mr Trump denies claims he failed to remember the name of the fallen serviceman during a phone call with Myeshia Johnson.
It first sparked controversy last week as Democratic representative Frederica Wilson claimed Mr Trump told Mrs Johnson that the soldier “knew what he signed up for”.
Niger is @realDonaldTrump's Benghazi. He needs to own it.
— Rep Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) October 22, 2017
A Twitter row has ensued, with the President referring to her as a “Wacky Congresswoman” and Mrs Wilson saying the Niger ambush “is Trump’s Benghazi”.
Four Americans, including a US ambassador, were killed in the 2012 terror attack on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, and led to years-long inquiries and criticism of Barack Obama and then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton over their handling of the aftermath.
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