Murky Waters – The Niger Incident

Ayorou, Niger. October 4th, 2017. Green Beret US Special forces soldiers accompany Niger soldiers to a seemingly innocuous mission close to a village called Tongo Tongo. After the rendezvous, they were ambushed by about fifty local militants with unknown affiliations. Four US servicemen and about 10 Nigerien soldiers lost their lives.

What happened? Well, according to Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Oct. 11 they frankly don’t know completely what went wrong. He went on to say “We will look at this and say was there something we have to adapt to now, should we have been in a better stance,” Mattis said. “We need to always look at this. We’re not complacent, we’re going to be better.”

What we do know is that the US soldiers were stationed in the area to assist with counterterrorism operations, as there had been an increase in jihadist terror groups in the area praying on refugee groups.

The US / Niger convey was travelling in unarmed vehicles from the earlier meeting; en-route they were ambushed by militants brandishing rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. The Nigerien troops had the most casualties with 10 soldiers succumbing to enemy fire almost immediately. Thereafter the US Special Forces and remaining Niger forces engaged in the battle for more than an hour. What is concerning is that air reinforcements were only called in an hour after the firefight had started, thus casting some doubt behind the real motive of the operation by the US / Niger forces.

The village chief where the meeting took place is also now under investigation as he allegedly delayed the departure of the convoy from the village, which many believe was to allow the militants sufficient time to ambush the convoy at the best location.

In a CNN interview, last Thursday, staunch anti-Trump Senator John McCain has alluded to perhaps obtaining a subpoena to get the real information and reasons behind the attack and more importantly US-led operations in the area. He said ‘’it may require a subpoena’’. The Department of Defense is conducting the initial review of what went wrong; however, Senator McCain went on to say ‘’he might not wait for the department to finish its own investigation before seeking those details.’’ This would mean that he would be opening his own investigation as well.

In a press meeting yesterday the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Pentagon believes a group with ties to the Islamic State military force (ISIS) is responsible for the attack in early October. “Our assessment right now is it is an ISIS-affiliated group,” General Joseph Dunford said in the press conference.

The Trump administration has been heavily criticized for their handling of the matter especially after President Trump’s blithe conversation with the widow of one of the fallen soldiers. He said ‘’he knew what he was getting into’’ during the telephone call and this has enraged a lot of people across the spectrum.

For now, the real reasons why four US Green Beret’s had to give up their lives for their country remains unclear; let’s hope the truth comes out soon.

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