Niger Ambush Probe To Call For More Scrutiny On US Missions
A military investigation into an ambush last year in Niger in which four U.S. soldiers were killed is expected to recommend tighter oversight of elite forces on the ground and higher command approval for dangerous patrols in the region.
A draft of the U.S. Africa Command report on the Oct. 4 attack by ISIS-affiliated militants calls for reducing the number of U.S. ground missions in Niger and stripping field commanders of authority to dispatch troops on risky missions, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Operations will be subject to more scrutiny and may require approval from senior leaders at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart and the Pentagon, the Times reported, citing unnamed military officials.
Commanders in Niger currently have the authority to make decisions on when to launch reconnaissance patrols.
The report, which is expected to be released publicly in the coming weeks, also found a series of missteps on the ground, such as “a breakdown in communications that may have stemmed from a failure by members of the American and Nigerien team, and their superiors, to check their equipment before heading out on the Oct. 4 mission,” the Times reported.
AFRICOM said to Stars and Stripes on Monday that the investigation remains ongoing.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking to reporters Sunday, said he still needed to review the final report.
“That report is making its way to me. It’s not yet been sent to me,” he said. “I would expect it as soon as the AFRICOM commander has reviewed it. It is extensive. It is thousands of pages long.”
For several years, U.S. forces have been operating outside the public eye in Niger, where troops have worked alongside indigenous forces to counter various extremist groups. Few outside military circles paid any attention to the U.S. mission there until the deaths of American troops.
Even before the Oct. 4 ambush, …read more
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