Soldier in bloody Niger mission had warned of gaps, defense officials say
WASHINGTON — The leader of an ill-fated team of US soldiers in Niger last fall warned before the mission that his troops did not have the equipment or intelligence necessary to carry out a kill-or-capture raid against a local militant, according to preliminary findings of a continuing Defense Department investigation.
In a departure from normal lines of authority, the report concludes, the Oct. 4 mission was not approved by senior military officials up the chain of command in West Africa and Germany. Instead, it was ordered by a junior officer, according to two Defense Department officials. Four US soldiers and five Nigeriens were killed when the unit was ambushed.
The two officials said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Joint Chiefs chairman, are troubled that two low-level officers are being blamed for the botched mission instead of senior commanders who should be aware when US troops are undertaking a high-risk raid.
The two Defense Department officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation has not been released.