Troops Ambushed in Niger Waited an Hour to Call for Help, Pentagon Official Says
WASHINGTON — American troops who came under fire in Niger during a deadly ambush this month waited more than an hour before calling for help, the top United States military officer said on Monday.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not want to speculate about why service members took so long to call for backup, but suggested one reason might be they thought they could fight back against the Islamic militants who attacked them.
“My guess is the unit thought it could handle this,” General Dunford told reporters at the Pentagon, but added that until a full investigation is complete, defense officials will not be able to explain the delay.
After another hour, he said, French aircraft and warplanes were on the scene.
General Dunford’s comments were the fullest explanation so far from the Trump administration about the ambush and what led up to it. About a dozen American service members joined roughly 30 Nigerien soldiers and embarked on what was initially expected to be a routine reconnaissance mission. But they came under fire while returning to base andfour Americans and four Nigeriens were killed. Two Americans were wounded, as were six Nigeriens.
General Dunford said that the Pentagon owes answers to the families of the four American service members who were killed in Niger during the attack.