Report: Niger Operation Left Green Berets “Outnumbered and Overrun”
An eight page unclassified summary of the Niger Operation that left 4 Green Berets dead was released on May 10. The extensive investigation spoke of leadership that did not have the authority to allow the mission, and the horrifying last moments of four Americans and 4 Nigeriens who fought to their last breath. The Army has moved to correct some of the things that went wrong.
The report states that without question, all four Green Berets, “Sergeant First Class (SFC) Jeremiah Johnson1, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Bryan Black, SSG Dustin Wright, and Sergeant (SGT) LaDavid Johnson gave their last full measure of devotion to our country and died with honor while actively engaging the enemy.”
What went wrong?
The report stated that the Special Operations team was orginally there to train and advise the Nigerien forces. It did not have the proper upper level authorization to conduct a mission to target “a key member of [the Islamic State-Greater Sahara.].”
The mission included 11 Americans and about 30 Nigeriens. The commanders reportedly “inaccurately” characterized the nature of the mission. The team did not rehearse or train for that type of mission, and the base commander approved it based on the “incorrect” belief that he had the authority to do so, according to the Army Times.
Valor to the last breath
The report stated the final actions of the team, as reported by Army Times:
As Sgt. La David Johnson fought for his life, Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Wright were returning fire from outside the second U.S. vehicle.
Jeremiah Johnson acknowledged the order to move out with a “thumbs up,” and another team member threw a smoke grenade to give them cover to move.
Wright began driving their vehicle slowly forward, while Black and Johnson remained outside, using the vehicle as cover to continue firing.
As Black moved slightly ahead of the vehicle, he was shot and killed by enemy fire.
Jeremiah Johnson would fall next. Badly wounded by enemy fire, he could not continue on. Wright stayed beside him, returning fire until both were killed.
La David Johnson, the special operations mechanic and driver, and two Nigeriens had been returning fire from outside his vehicle. He fired the vehicle’s M240 mounted machine gun until it ran out of bullets, then picked up an M2010 sniper rifle.
When the call came to pull back, the three were trapped. Intense incoming fire kept La David Johnson from being able to reach the driver’s seat.
So, they ran. The Nigeriens were shot; La David Johnson was the only one left. He reached the lone tree, took position and returned fire as an enemy truck with its own mounted machine gun closed in.
His body was found two days later.
Read the full report at this link.
The actions of individuals are under review, but General Thomas Waldhauser (head of AFRICOM) stated there would be “awards for valor.” The report categorically stated that none of the Green Berets were taken alive. And from the amount of unverified speculations over Sgt LaDavid Johnson, the report specifically mentioned that his hands were not bound, and he died engaging the enemy. He just had to flee outside the original search perimeter. The Pentagon interviewed 143 witnesses, including the survivors of the attack.