Joint Chiefs Chairman gives timeline of Niger ambush

By Daniel Uria  |  Oct. 23, 2017 at 7:24 PM
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Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford on Monday provided a timeline of the ambush on a team of U.S. Army Green Berets and soldiers in Niger.

During a Pentagon briefing, Dunford said the U.S. troops requested additional support an hour after they were ambushed by about 50 Islamic State fighters who killed four U.S. and five Nigerien soldiers Oct. 4.

A remotely piloted aircraft arrived within minutes of the request for help and French Mirage jets reached the scene about 2 hours after the troops initially made contact with the IS forces.

"It is important to note when they didn't ask for support for that first hour, my judgement would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without additional support," Dunford said. "And so well we'll find out in the investigation exactly why it took an hour for them to call."

There was no indication the U.S. troops were operating outside of their orders, Dunford said.

"I don't have any indication right now to believe or to know that they did anything other than operate within the orders that they were given," he said. "That's what the investigation's all about. So I think anyone that speculates about what special operations forces did or didn't do is doing exactly that, they're speculating."

Dunford added that two U.S. soldiers were injured and evacuated by a French aircraft during the firefight. Three U.S. soldiers who were killed were also evacuated that evening while Sgt. La David Johnson remained missing until his body was found Oct. 6.

He also said he couldn't say "definitively" how far Johnson's body was from the initial scene of contact, adding that the U.S. team found themselves in a "very complex situation."

Dunford said the military plans to visit the families of the victims in their homes to share all of the facts when the investigation is complete.

"I think we owe the families and the American people transparency," he said.

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