Donald Trump sent the four U.S. soldiers who died in Niger on their mission even after the military had warned that they needed more support — support they never received.
The four American soldiers who were slain in Niger were sent into harm's way on Donald Trump's orders, even though the military had made clear that there was not adequate support in the area.
The L.A. Times reports that "for months before the ambush" the military had requested the presence of drones, other surveillance aircraft, and additional military medical support to back up operations in the theater of operations.
Those requests were resisted by the U.S. ambassador to Niger, who was "reluctant to increase the American presence in the country."
The military, acting on orders from Trump, who is the commander in chief of all armed forces, went ahead with the doomed mission.
The Times reports that in the last six months, Special Forces have been increasingly operating in remote areas in the region "far from command support," according to a U.S. official who has been briefed on the attack.
Early in his administration, Trump ceded many of the real-time decisions about how to deploy force in the field to the generals. In April, The New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was offering proposals to Trump that would "allow the military to move more quickly on raids, airstrikes, bombing missions and arming allies in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere."
Yet the Times noted that the new approach presented "new dangers for the military, including the potential of increased civilian casualties, and the possibility that Mr. Trump will shunt blame for things that go wrong to the Pentagon."
That's exactly what happened in February, when Trump ducked responsibility for the failed Navy SEAL raid in Yemen that killed Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens. Trump told his friends at "Fox & Friends" that "they lost Ryan" — "they" in this case being the Navy.
Most Americans would have preferred otherwise, but Trump is the head of the Navy. The chain of command ends with him; the Department of Defense website notes, "The President, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is the ultimate authority." His orders, either to directly authorize missions or to authorize generals to execute missions, come back to one person: him.
He is responsible.
America is in the very early stages of learning what happened in Niger. In addition to Trump's repellent behavior toward the family of Sgt. La David Johnson, the country needs to know — among many other mysteries — why he was silent about it for so long, what isn't he revealing now, and why these men were sent into harm's way without adequate support.
The questions have not yet been answered. And the clock is ticking.