Fire-Fight in Niger Leaves Four U.S. Soldiers Dead
Four United States soldiers were killed in a deadly ambush on October 4, 2017 near the Niger-Mali border in Africa. Although this attack, the deadliest combat mission of President Trump’s presidency thus far, occurred over three weeks ago, there is still a lot of information we do not know.
Here is what we do know: The ambush was most likely done by a group of about fifty ISIS fighters. Although President Trump has yet to tell the American public this, the military has announced that ISIS is most likely responsible. An initial report from the United States military said that the American troops were in a combat vehicle leaving a meeting when they were ambushed. According to that report, the men fled the vehicle, looking for cover and shooting at the enemy at the same time. That report was altered when the military released a statement saying that the troops were heading back to the vehicle after a meeting when they were ambushed for about a half hour. Both reports ended with the French flying overhead in an attempt to stop the ambush.
Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were the four soldiers killed during the ambush. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the death of Sgt. La David Johnson, as his body was found nearly 48 hours after the ambush in a remote area away from where the firefight occurred. The United States military is stating that Sgt. Johnson was without a doubt separated from the rest of the group. Those who survived the ambush refused to leave the scene until his body was discovered, emphasizing the military’s promise to “never leave a man behind.” But it is unclear how Sgt. Johnson was separated or why he ended up so far away from his comrades.
With so many questions to be answered, the public is looking to the White House. However, it took about two weeks for President Trump to even mention the names of any of the soldiers we lost in the ambush. When prompted by a reporter, Trump mentioned their names in a press conference on October 16th where he stated that he wrote letters to the families of the men in sympathy. There apparently was a statement that was to be released by the White House immediately following the attack, but that statement was never released. There is no official reason as to why the statement was never released.
This confusion created by the White House is certainly getting a lot of attention, especially by Senator John McCain (R, AZ), who does not believe that the White House is being upfront with the information that they have. McCain may even seek a subpoena to get the correct information released about the attack, he told CNN’s Suzanna Malveaux. He is quoted with saying that he wants information on “all the specifics” before a committee can decide if an investigation is needed. According to Senator Mike Rounds, who talked to CNN, (R, SD) if an investigation does have to occur, it could be very similar to the one that took place after the attacks in Benghazi.
McCain is not the only Senator speaking out about how the White House is handling this attack; President Trump apparently called the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, Myeshia Johnson, on the phone to send his condolences. Shortly after this phone call took place, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D, FL) claimed that Trump was disrespectful to Johnson on the phone (Wilson was in a car with Johnson when the call happened). The White House has commented on this, with press secretary Sarah Sanders claiming that this attack on President Trump is uncalled for and false. Although there is no recording of the phone call, Sanders is saying there were several people in the room with Trump when he made the phone call and can attest to the fact that Trump was not rude to her. President Trump also took to twitter to confront the issue, tweeting, “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”
As of right now, this story is overshadowing the main problem: there were four American soldiers who were killed at the beginning of this month and we, along with their families, have almost no answers on how it happened. The White House, the military, and Congress have taken no action to not only prevent something like this from happening again, but also haven’t taken further steps to find out what actually happened in Niger on October 4th.
Rest in peace to the four soldiers we lost, Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright. They will never be forgotten for the ultimate sacrifice they made. As of yet, there are no further updates.