25 October 2017

Niger: Families of Soldiers Killed Deserve Quick, Accurate Investigation - Dunford

Photo: Le Pays
Soldiers in Niger

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says the families of the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger deserve a quick and accurate investigation.

Marine General Joseph Dunford spoke to reporters Monday as the Trump administration strives to clear up the still murky details of just what happened on during the October 3rd operation.

Dunford acknowledged that many questions are still unanswered and even the Pentagon does not know exactly what happened and why. He said the probe is also geared toward learning lessons.

The general said the initial assessment is that the U.S. forces were ambushed by local tribal fighters associated with Islamic State.

One question still to be answered is why it took an hour for U.S. forces to call for backup after they first encountered the enemy and why it took another hour for French fighters jets to show up.

"I make no judgement as to how long it took them to ask for support. I don't know that they thought they needed support prior to that time, I don't know how this attack unfolded. I don't know what their initial assessment was of what they were confronted with," the general said.

Dunford also said under the rules of engagement in Niger, U.S. forces only accompany Niger forces when the "chances of enemy, contact are unlikely."

Other questions that need a thorough investigation include whether the U.S. had adequate intelligence and an accurate assessment of the threat in the area -- and why did it take two days to recover the body of Sergeant La David Johnson.

General Dunford says he will have to "redouble" his efforts to get answers to Congress and to Johnson's family. He also promised to look into claims by Johnson's widow Myeshia that she was denied permission to view her husband's body in the casket.

The United States has close to 1,000 forces as part of a French-led mission helping African forces confront Islamic State and al-Qaida in West Africa.

Dunford says Islamic State will try to set up a presence in West Africa since being driven from Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. He says U.S. operations are aimed at training local forces to make sure that does not happen.

More on This

Villagers Suspected of Luring US Soldiers into Ambush

A local official and an analyst say residents of the Niger village where four U.S. soldiers were killed this month may… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Voice of America. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.