A Pentagon report released Thursday said multiple failures were to blame for an ambush in Niger last year that resulted in the death of four U.S. soldiers and five Nigerien troops, but concluded "no single failure or deficiency was the sole reason for the events." It instead cites "individual, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies," ABC News reports.
The U.S. and Nigerien forces were ambushed by ISIS fighters on Oct. 4, 2017, after they stopped in Tongo Tongo for water and supplies. The U.S. soldiers immediately informed their commanders they were under attack, but didn't request backup for an hour. Two hours after that, French helicopters from Mali arrived to evacuate the soldiers, but they retrieved only seven Americans. The other four, apparently separated from the group, "were inexplicably left behind, no longer in radio contact, and initially considered missing in action by the Pentagon, a status that officials say raises the possibility they were still alive when the helicopters took off without them," The New York Times reports. The Pentagon report, which describes the disastrous retreat, clarifies that the American soldiers "were never captured alive by the enemy."
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, was briefed on the report with other senators Tuesday. He told CNN earlier this week, "I believe that the troops who were sadly killed in Niger in October of 2017 were engaged in a mission that they were not authorized by law to participate in and that they were not trained to participate in. And that is a significant reason that they tragically lost their lives." Jeva Lange