Trump wants to blame his generals for the failed mission in Niger. But the commander in chief should take responsibility for U.S. forces.
Donald Trump doesn’t want people paying close attention to the deadly, ISIS-led ambush that killed four U.S. troops this month in Niger, which is why for weeks he refused to even mention the terror attack, or to reference “radical Islamic terror.”
Now, as more details emerge about the failed mission, it’s becoming clear why Trump refuses to take responsibility for the military action and seems anxious to blame his generals.
In an interview with a Nigerien soldier who survived the ambush, CNN reports the solider "described the joint US-Nigerien unit as being a 'light force,' believing that the combined group had insufficient numbers and firepower for a patrol into what he said was a high risk area."
The U.S. troops traveled in a light convoy and had no air cover or drone support to keep watch over them. It was two hours after the ambush began before armed French Mirage jets arrived to provide support for the Americans.
According to the Nigerien witness, some U.S. troops were wearing T-shirts and baseball caps, but no protective body armor, the day before they were ambushed by nearly 50 ISIS fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and heavy machine guns.
"I was surprised that the Americans would go out into the zone with such a light convoy and no air cover, no drones to keep watch over them," the Nigerien soldier told CNN. The U.S. troops were armed only with light rifles and drove unarmed pick-up trucks. Five Nigerien soldiers fighting alongside the American Green Beret troop were also killed in the four-hour attack.
The ambush stunned military leaders, who had determined it was unlikely the mission would encounter any hostile forces. "At no time was the team ever directed to 'take direct action' against enemy forces," a U.S. defense official told CNN.
Note that the U.S. soldiers killed in Niger had “little to no combat experience before their deployment to West Africa,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
Previously, ABC News reported that the mission had quickly changed from a reconnaissance operation to meet with local leaders into orders to “kill-or-capture” a high-value terrorism target.
Aside from blaming his generals for the failed mission, Trump has turned the Niger ambush into a controversy by refusing for weeks to acknowledge the fallen U.S. troops. He then insulted one grieving family by calling and offering a dismissive message that Sgt. La David Johnson "knew what he was signing up for" when he joined the military.