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So “leaked” reports came out yesterday referencing the investigation into the ambush in Niger that left four Americans dead. The classified version is done and in the process of being briefed to Congress and the families. A redacted/unclassified version will be made public. Meanwhile “Military Officials” leaked information from the massive 6,000-page investigation resulting in headlines that read “Pentagon Cites Multiple Missteps That Led To Ambush Of U.S. Troops In Niger,” “Classified Report Slams Military Over October Deaths in Niger,” and “Classified Niger probe finds multiple flaws in deadly mission: report.”
Complacency? Patently untrue — I know firsthand. Since the US has been there post-9/11, this is the first attack of this magnitude to happen in Niger. Being shot at is routine — having a full-fledged, planned, and well-executed ambush — nope. Unexpected, yes; complacency, no. The team maintained their security and left when it became apparent that something was not right.
Lack of training? Really? All I can see is some investigator with a full night’s sleep, a full belly, and plenty of water saying “that’s not what I would have done, they shoulda’….” Again, first-hand, these guys reacted textbook despite 30 hours without sleep in an oven of a desert in a full-on ambush. You engage and try to get out of the kill zone. And that is exactly what they did.
Then they got separated — very common in the fog of war. This separation is what kept them in the area. Not leaving anyone behind is an American military praxis resulting in the loss of all vehicles and ultimately in the loss of four soldiers. I am not sure what “training” is being talked about but it’s always easier in hindsight sippin’ on your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and munching on a cruller.
And my personal favorite “a culture of excessive risk” or, even better, “a culture of risk,” depending on what article you read. Now you decide: do you want Green Berets that are willing and able to step into the gap or Green Berets wondering how to institute safe spaces in the area of operations? And how about trigger warnings? Oh, the irony of that phrase in this instance. We take risks, albeit calculated, but it’s a risky job — always. It’s what Special Forces does. This continues to boggle my mind. (I have ranted about this before here and here.)
As the saying goes, “first reports are always wrong,” which I have largely found to be true. The statements and words above could be completely out of context, leveraged for media hype. The political stench on this, however, continues largely from the left with an agenda to drag the President down by any means possible, producing, I believe, headlines like the ones above.
It will be interesting to see what happens when this becomes public … again. One last thing: who is talking to the press? In my line of work, you became an instant pariah if you talked to the press. But again, I believe there is a larger political agenda going on here.