New Details About Deadly Ambush of U.S. Troops in Niger

With the Pentagon’s final report into the October ambush of a Green Beret-led team in Niger expected by the end of January, CNN is learning new details about the questions investigators have been asking to determine what led to the deaths of four US soldiers.

Two US officials told CNN the military investigation could be followed by administrative action against more than one officer involved in planning and executing the mission. If approved by the Army, reprimands could be issued for failures to follow procedures.

US military officials have previously told CNN that the US-led team was traveling with 30 Nigerien soldiers when they were attacked by approximately 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and heavy machine guns.

During the subsequent gun battle, which lasted for hours, four US soldiers — Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright and Sgt. La David T. Johnson — were killed and two were wounded.

Five Nigeriens were also killed. US-Nigerien forces managed to kill 20 militants during the firefight, a defense official previously told CNN.

The body of Sgt. La David Johnson was recovered 48 hours after the attack. Additional remains of Johnson’s were recovered on November 12 by a US military and FBI team that traveled to the area.

Investigators expect to answer several key questions about the attack in their final report this month including:

  • Was the ambush avoidable?
  • Was there an intelligence failure?
  • Why did it take 48 hours to find the body of Sgt. La David Johnson?
  • Did specific failures result in the 12-man team being being attacked by approximately 50 heavily armed ISIS-affiliated fighters?

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SOURCE: CNN, Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen