President Trump insists that he did not authorize the mission in Niger in which four U.S. soldiers were killed. He’s laying the responsibility at his Generals’ doorstep.
Trump responded, “No, I didn’t, not specifically,” when asked if he authorized the mission. He claimed, “my generals and my military” have decision-making authority.
The commander-in-chief is refusing to take responsibility for the incident on October 4 that killed four Army Green Berets. The group of 12 soldiers and 30 Nigerian troops were ambushed by 50 ISIS-affiliated militants on the Niger-Mali border. Little details about the how the incident unfolded are known nearly three weeks after it occurred.
The combat patrol did not expect resistance when planning the reconnaissance mission and called for air support one hour after being attacked by militants, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said at a briefing to the Pentagon. French fighter jets arrived to support the troops after four of them had already been killed
“This area is inherently dangerous.” – Gen. Joseph Dunford
U.S. rules for troops in the area prohibit missions when attacks are likely. ISIS-affiliated militants used “small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine guns.”
Sgt. La David Johnson’s body was not recovered by U.S. forces until Oct. 6. Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright were killed during the mission. 5 Nigerian troops were killed during the attack.
Dunford also said that the Pentagon notified the White House of the ambush when it found out a soldier had gone missing.
The mission reportedly changed to a kill-or-capture scenario while the operation was being carried out. Such a mission likely required higher approval. The Pentagon is currently investigating whether this was the case.
Trump said to reporters, “I have generals that are great generals. These are great fighters; these are warriors. I gave them authority to do what’s right so that we win. That’s the authority they have. I want to win. And we’re going to win.”
The Obama administration was often criticized for slowing down the military by requiring high-level approval for so many missions. In hindsight, it appears that the Obama administration genuinely valued the lives of our troops.
Trump’s reliance on generals to make important decisions has gained him well-deserved criticism for passing off the blame whenever something goes wrong. He responded similarly after the January raid in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL dead, saying “they lost” the SEAL, in reference to the generals.
Trump’s confirmation that he did not sign off on the mission comes after Defense Secretary James Mattis refused to say whether the president had or not.
“I don’t discuss those kinds of things.” – Defense Secretary James Mattis