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Niger team didn’t get command approval, probe finds

Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of the 3rd Special Forces Group were killed during an October ambush in Niger. (Twitter)
March 06, 2018

An investigation into the deadly Niger ambush this past October that killed four U.S. soldiers has found that the team didn’t get proper command approval before going out on the mission, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Several U.S. officials said the Army Special Forces team was supposed to first meet local Nigerian leaders and then try and hunt down an ISIS militant who is suspected of kidnapping an American aid worker, the Associated Press reported. The investigation findings have not yet been made public, and the Associated Press’ sources spoke anonymously.

The investigation found that the team apparently decided to go after the militant, Doundou Chefou, right away, rather than meet with local leaders first, and that the team didn’t “outline that intent to higher-level commanders,” the report said.

The investigation says the team’s failure to get command approval was not the cause of the ambush, the Associated Press pointed out.

Americans Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed during the October ambush.

During their patrol, 11 Americans and 30 Nigerian soldiers were ambushed and attempted to take cover behind an vehicle while trying to escape from the area. The soldiers fired smoke grenades in an effort to cover their position, as well as make friendly aircraft overhead aware of their position.

French air support arrived two hours after the ambush started, but U.S. troops didn’t call for air support until one hour after the attack, possibly due to communications issues.

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is still investigating the incident and determining if there are enough resources to carry out missions in areas where militants are operating. The Pentagon’s investigation into the Niger ambush and what took place is expected to be released later this week.

On Sunday, ISIS released video footage of the deadly Niger ambush from this past October, when four American soldiers were killed.

AFRICOM released a statement asking the media to not show the video out of respect to the families affected by the ambush, Stars and Stripes reported. Most news agencies have only published clips of the footage. American Military News is not publishing the video footage out of respect for the families.