A series of individual and organizational failures, including a lack of training and situational awareness, led to a deadly ambush in Niger previous year that killed four USA soldiers, a partial Pentagon report released on Thursday said.
"The direct cause of the enemy attack in Tongo Tongo is that the enemy achieved tactical surprise there and our forces were outnumbered there approximately three to one". Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr. The video describes how the convoy was forced to split up and how it was outflanked by over 100 enemy fighters.
Arnold Wright, father of Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, expressed frustration over the account of the mission he received. All 4 have been killed in Niger, when a joint patrol of American and Niger forces was ambushed by militants believed linked to the Islamic State group.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has tasked the Army and U.S. Special Operations Command with ensuring that commanders in a supervisory and oversight role are held accountable for leadership failures leading up to the ambush - including failures not mentioned in the investigation, said Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of AFRICOM.
"The investigation identifies individual, organizational and institutional failures and deficiencies that contributed to the tragic events of 4 October 2017.no single failure or deficiency was the sole reason for the events", an eight-page summary of the report says.
The abstract lays out a complicated chain of occasions that unfolded October 3-4, ending within the ambush, and factors to "particular person, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies that contributed to the tragic occasions".
The Secretary also directed U.S. Special Operations Command to review training, operating procedures, operational-level planning, and other factors relevant to the ambush in Tongo Tongo.
A final report released Thursday cites insufficient training and preparation.
- Two junior officers, including Team 3212's Capt. Michael Perozeni, were accused of "mischaracterizing" the mission ias a daylong trip to meet with tribal elders when they were actually involved in a counter-terrorism mission.
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The briefing, he said, gave the impression "that the captain, the team leader, that he mischaracterized the mission" as one to reach out to local leaders rather than a mission to target the insurgent. It is not clear if these two are among the many three service members he stated might face self-discipline.
A quick reaction force of Nigerien troops found the bodies of the three soldiers, Cloutier said.
The report is expected to detail missteps in the mission's approval process and whether that contributed at all to the ambush that erupted many hours later. "It was lack of attention to detail". The team had not trained for this mission and did not notify higher-level commanders that it would be undertaking it.
Senior commanders, unaware of the team's earlier actions, then ordered the troops to serve as backup for a second team's raid, also targeting Chefou.
Bad weather forced the helicopters to abort, Wright said, and his son's team went on to the site, where they destroyed motorcycles, ammunition and other equipment before heading to Tongo Tongo. The Ouallam team members were then ordered to another location to collect intelligence also linked to Chefou, which they did without problems.
Soon after leaving Tongo Tongo, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, Niger's capital, they were ambushed by Islamic State-linked militants carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
Cloutier stated it seems insurgents tried to remove the our bodies of three of the killed American troops however fled when French fighter jets buzzed the realm.
"The whole thing was a screwed-up mess".
La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright - dead along with at least five Nigerien soldiers. Black was firing from the front passenger seat and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson was shooting from the back of the truck.