What Happened in Niger? General Joseph Dunford Speaks Out
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford addressed the Pentagon with some of the questions raised about the Green Berets who died in Niger at the beginning of October. An Article 15-6 investigation is ongoing into the attack.
The Sofrep report we referenced for the initial article was correct: the men were killed in a region called Tongo Tongo. Initially thought to be three Green Berets killed, a fourth was found 2 days later. That 4th serviceman’s death has been the subject of political issues and questions.
General Dunford stated that there are 800 US troops in Niger, placed there in an effort to block any ISIS attempt to regroup after being forced from their territory. He stated that the US has had a presence there for 20 years, even though the latest number is higher than previous levels.
Military Times reported,
The unit was ambushed by small-arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and technical vehicles by approximately 50 militants, Dunford said. The U.S. forces had not expected resistance and was only lightly armed with machine guns, small arms and communications capability “to reach back and get larger supporting arms,” Dunford said.
However the unit did not call for aircraft to assist until an hour after it came under attack, something Dunford said was part of the ongoing investigation.
“My judgement would be that unit thought they could handle that situation without additional support,” Dunford said.
When support finally came, the General stated that it came in “three waves” – the first, a drone that took video footage of the scene. He did not identify the drone, nor did he say whether or not it was armed. The drone did not fire on the insurgents. He did say that he had not yet viewed the video footage.
The “second wave” were French Mirage jets, which arrived roughly an hour after support was requested. But they did not open fire on the insurgents, which is also a subject of the investigation. Which leaves a two hour window before any support whatsoever. French Puma helicopters reportedly didn’t arrive until after, when the group had been under attack for some time. The Pumas evacuated the wounded soldiers. The three deceased Green Berets, Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, were evacuated by a private contractor helicopter.
When evacuation finally came, one soldier was still missing- Sgt La David Johnson. At 9:30 p.m. on October 4, head of Africom, Gen Thomas Waldhauser, notified General Dunford that they had one missing soldier. He notified the White House. Johnson was found two days later. According to one report, his truck became stuck in the mud.
The Sgt was laid to rest over the weekend. With Sgt Johnson’s widow claiming that the Army refused to allow her to view the body, General Dunford stated that he would look into that as well.