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Thread: Niger: a Sahel country bumping along (catch all)

  1. #21
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    A U.S. soldier who was missing after an ambush by militants in Niger has been found dead, according to defense officials.
    The attack killed three U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group and four soldiers from Niger, one of whom was serving as an interpreter. Two other American soldiers were wounded and evacuated to Landstuhl.
    A senior U.S. official said the missing soldier did activate his military beacon and the U.S. military was able to track him for a time before the signal faded.
    One official said a 12-man team of U.S. soldiers from the Army's 3rd Special Forces Group was operating with approximately 30 Forces Armees Nigeriennes (FAN) on a train and advise mission near Tongo Tongo, Niger, just miles from the Mali border. Militants, both Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and ISIS, have been using a nearby route to travel back and forth into Mali and back to a base camp in Niger and traffic in black market merchandise, the official said. The partner forces were working to disrupt the so-called rat line and interdict the militants.
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/africa/...d-dead-n808381
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  2. #22
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    The Pentagon has identified the three Army Green Berets killed in action Wednesday night in Niger.
    Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wash.; Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons,#Ga., were killed after their patrol came under attack by Mali-based militants.
    The three were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
    The U.S. special forces were on a joint patrol with Nigerien soldiers near Mali’s border when they “fell into an ambush set by terrorist elements aboard a dozen vehicles and about twenty motorcycles," Niger's army chief of staff said in a statement.
    Four Nigerien soldiers were also killed, eight were wounded and two U.S. soldiers were wounded “after intense fighting, during which elements of the joint force showed exemplary courage,” according to the statement.
    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/35...illed-in-niger
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  3. #23
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Silence as questions remain over deadly Niger ambush

    A CNN report with some more details and more questions:
    Officials said the 12 man Green Beret-led team had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to their unarmored pick-up trucks when the unexpected ambush resulted in a firefight that lasted 30 minutes.
    (Later) .....the unit in Niger "had actually done 29 patrols without contact over the previous six months," Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told reporters.
    Link:http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/13/po...nce/index.html

    The film clip has a sentence akin to Niger has not given the USA permission to launch air strikes.
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  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default In the dust a HVT opportunity may explain their deaths

    Jason Burke, in The Observer, is an accomplished journalist on terrorism; his article helps to provide the context and some pointers to why the four soldiers died in:
    That there are conflicting accounts of the clash is not surprising. It occurred in an environment where hard fact is rare, and rumours swirl as fiercely as the dust storms that sweep the scrub and desert.
    Was this man the target?
    Al-Sahraoui’s background and allegiance is evidence of the extremely fractured nature of the conflict across the swath of northern Africa known as the Sahel. The 40-year-old is thought to have grown up in refugee camps in the south of Algeria, where he was committed to the nationalist cause of the Western Sahara. Little is known about how he became interested in Islamist extremism.....
    Did the Niger-SOF team use their initiative?
    Any soldier knows that if you give guys on the ground more independence, then they will be that much more aggressive and will take more risks.
    Link:https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...rces-islamists

    I have changed the thread's title to four SOF dead, after the fourth soldier was found. RIP.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-15-2017 at 10:07 AM. Reason: 1,637v
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    Default Death of U.S. Soldiers in Niger Sparks FBI Probe, Criticism

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-25-2017 at 02:20 PM.

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

    The growing list of unanswered questions and inability to construct a precise account of the Oct. 4 incident have exacerbated a public relations nightmare for the White House, which is embroiled in controversy over President Trump’s belated and seemingly clumsy response this week to console grieving military families.

    “We need to find out what happened and why,” White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
    http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-f...019-story.html
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  7. #27
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    SWJ Blog Death of U.S. Soldiers in Niger Sparks FBI Probe, Criticism
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=26104
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  8. #28
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    Default What's Up With The Headgear?

    what's up with the picture of the 4 dead service persons? Two have Green Berets? One has no beret? One has a maroon beret (of the 82nd Airborne)but has an SF flash and SF emblem?

    It was originally reported they were all Green Berets. So what's up?

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Texan academic adds

    Thanks to a "lurker" for the pointer to an exchange on Twitter between this lady as @texasinafrica (in a moment her bio) and others:
    Laura Seay is an assistant professor of government at Colby College, where she teaches African politics. Her research focuses on advocacy groups and U.S. policy in Africa.
    Just found her article in 'Slate', which is of value, especially if you look at the issues from a US political scene perspective.

    She refers to:
    American forces have been in Niger since 2012. Currently, there are about 800. Their primary mission is to advise and assist Niger’s armed forces in their fight against terrorist groups that attack their citizens.
    So with the IISS Military Balance to hand, Niger has an army of 5,200 (with mainly French kit) and an air force with 100 (with fifteen aircraft and seven helicopters). So one US soldier for just over every six Niger soldiers. I exclude any wider, regional role and "teeth to tail" ratio.

    It concludes with:
    Niger is unfamiliar to most Americans, and there’s a need for a long-overdue debate about why American forces are there and in other places around the world in the borderless and seemingly endless “Global War on Terror.” Are the threats to the United States from groups like ISGS really significant enough to spend billions of dollars deploying troops to fight them? Should lives be risked and lost in service of murky goals that often seem tangential to U.S. interests? These are questions worth asking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    what's up with the picture of the 4 dead service persons? Two have Green Berets? One has no beret? One has a maroon beret (of the 82nd Airborne)but has an SF flash and SF emblem?

    It was originally reported they were all Green Berets. So what's up?
    Slap,

    I only know what I read in the media, but it isn't unusual for the media to report non-SF qualified personnel killed in action while serving in a Special Forces Unit as Green Berets. I believe all these soldiers were assigned to a SF unit, and it isn't uncommon for our support soldiers to embed in an ODA go on missions with them. I certainly welcomed their participation when they went out with us, because they bring critical skills and added security.

    What is important for Americans to know is they shared the same risks as the Green Berets while serving their nation, and we lost four brothers regardless of the color of their beret.

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    Default Conflicting Accounts in Niger Ambush Are Subject of Pentagon Investigation

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-25-2017 at 02:20 PM.

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    Default New Details Emerge About Attack That Killed U.S. Soldiers in Niger

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-25-2017 at 02:20 PM.

  13. #33
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    WASHINGTON — A senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger says the ambush by militants stemmed in part from a "massive intelligence failure."
    The Pentagon has said that 40 to 50 militants ambushed a 12-man U.S. force in Niger on Oct. 4, killing four and wounding two. The U.S. patrol was seen as routine and had been carried out nearly 30 times in the six months before the attack, the Pentagon has reported.
    The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said the House and Senate armed services committees have questions about the scope of the U.S. mission in Niger, and whether the Pentagon is properly supporting the troops on the ground there.
    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/africa/...ailure-n812626
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  14. #34
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Note that the local African wire services have a different take on this incident.

    interview from 05OCT2017

    A deadly ambush near the Niger-Mali border on 4 October marked the unprecedented killing of American and Nigerien forces in the region. In this Q&A, Deputy West Africa Project Director Jean-Herv Jezequel and Research Assistant Hamza Cherbib say that jihadist violence cannot be divorced from deeper inter-communal tensions related to local competition over resources and illicit economic activity.
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201710060005.html

    Note the differences in the description of Friendly Forces here, vs my previous post.

    What happened and where?
    According to U.S. and Nigerien security sources, on 4 October 2017 a mixed patrol of U.S. and Nigerien special forces was ambushed near Tongo Tongo, a village located in the Tillabery region (about 120km north of the capital, Niamey), a few kilometres from the border with Mali. The precise death toll is still uncertain but at least five Nigerien and three U.S. soldiers were killed. Several others are wounded or missing, and Nigerien sources say the patrol's vehicles were looted or destroyed.
    The patrol may have been attacked by jihadists operating in the region, but there was no early claim of responsibility and what happened may only become clear over time. U.S. troops are supporting Nigerien armed forces fighting jihadists in at least two locations in the country, Aguelal and Diffa. The U.S. also is present elsewhere in Niger (and the region): it is establishing a drone and airbase near Agadez (northern Niger) and its forces are present at Niamey airport where they share space with French and Nigerien forces.
    This is not the first attack against security forces in the area. Indeed, Nigerien forces have suffered repeated attacks there since early 2017, including against the special counter-terrorism unit whose men are trained by the U.S. But this is the first attack to have claimed the lives of U.S. soldiers.

    What is known about jihadist groups in the area?
    In recent months, several attacks targeting security forces near the Mali-Niger border have been claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), the Islamic State's local branch led by Abou Walid Al Sahraoui. This includes a raid on the Koutoukale prison in October 2016 that was fended off by Nigerien security forces.
    Another recent attack was claimed by the Jamaat Nosrat al-Islam wal-Mouslimin (JNIM, the "Group for the support of Islam and the Muslims"), a jihadist coalition of militant groups with a history of cooperation that was established in March 2017. JNIM's leader, Iyad Ag Ghali, a Malian Tuareg, declared his allegiance to al-Qaeda and other top leaders of the group have well established al-Qaeda ties.
    Background readings: http://allafrica.com/view/group/main.../00053764.html

    Wherethehellisthisplacemap http://www.rain4sahara.org/our-work/...work/tillaberi
    Last edited by AdamG; 10-21-2017 at 09:13 PM. Reason: More stuff to read
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  15. #35
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Got irritated at the lack of orienting graphics and such, whistled up the appropriate 1;500,000 maps.

    Nimay @ Lat 13 ° 30' / Long 2 °
    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/tpc/t...34566_k-2b.jpg

    Teguey just east of Lat 14 ° 30' / Long 0 ° 30'
    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/tpc/t...34566_k-2a.jpg

    Also
    A longer-than-expected meeting with local tribal leaders in Niger may have given militants critical extra minutes to prep the ambush attack that left four American troops dead earlier this month, two U.S. officials told Fox News on Friday.
    A dozen U.S. Army soldiers, mostly Green Berets, along with 30 Nigeriens, had traveled 125 miles north from their base at Niger’s capital, Niamey, in unarmored trucks on a routine mission and to meet with local village elders in Tonga Tonga, near the border with Mali.

    After the meeting with the village elders ended, the U.S.-led patrol was ambushed by roughly 50 militants.

    French aircraft were overhead within 30 minutes, however, they did not fire because they couldn't positively identify who was who on the ground.

    A senior defense official told Fox News the U.S. troops were fired on once they were already in their vehicles. The vehicles then scrambled to “get off the X” -- escaping the ambush site using evasive driving maneuvers -- and a gunfight ensued.
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/10...cials-say.html
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  16. #36
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Amidst the deluge of reporting now, very little by people familiar with Niger, this passage is important:
    Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rudy Atallah, the man Trump nearly hired as his National Security Council's’ senior director for Africa, said that Niger is a difficult posting for U.S. service members due to the lack of communication between their camps, the Nigerien military, and the civilians they are purportedly there to help protect. “We don’t have very good intelligence information on what the threat looks like or how it’s growing and [U.S. troops] don’t have the support of local population,” Atallah said. “Our folks don’t spend a lot of time gripping and grinning with the locals, and the locals don’t know what our guys are doing.”
    Link:https://www.theatlantic.com/internat...s-attack/54353

    You'd think by now AFRICOM deployed enough staff with the right language skills, after all there has been a presence in Niger since the early 2000's, with troop rotations since 2011.

    Another report referred to SAR being provided by contractors.
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  17. #37
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Plot Twist, or why the first part of the Intel guy's briefing on weather is important.

    Niger Floods Leaves Tens of Thousands Homeless
    Widespread flooding has killed at least 56 people since the rainy season began in June, and left over 185,000 homeless, according to the interior ministry.
    http://allafrica.com/view/group/main.../00055447.html
    &
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201708310338.html
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  18. #38
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    Some curious information in this NYT report:
    American troops who came under fire in Niger...might have waited more than an hour before calling for help....one reason might be that they thought they could fight back against the Islamic State-affiliated militants who attacked them.

    Though helicopters did not arrive until an hour after the troops called for help, a drone arrived overhead in minutes, General Dunford said, though he would not say whether it was armed.
    Link:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/23/w...-dunford.html?
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    Default Administration Sees No Change in Rules or Mission of U.S. Troops in Niger

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-25-2017 at 02:21 PM.

  20. #40
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Some curious information
    By 'curious', you mean more and more it's sounding like a complete Charlie Foxtrot?

    Sources for this ABC report basically says the same thing.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/died-...ry?id=50670787

    What was started as a reconnaissance mission to meet with local leaders turned into a kill-or-capture mission aimed at a high-value target, according to both sources.
    *
    “They should have been up and back in a day. Because they were up there so f------ long on a mission that morphed, they were spotted, surveilled and ultimately hit,” the official said.
    *
    Their pre-mission threat assessment never considered the possibility of 50 to 60 enemy combatants attacking them, according to the official.
    *
    On their way back, the team received a call from the base back in Niamey, asking them to turn around and kill or capture a high-value target who is a known al Qaeda and ISIS operative, according to two senior officials.
    *
    The team arrived at the target location in the early morning hours of Oct. 4, but found nothing. They burned the remnants of the abandoned campsite and headed back south as the sun came up, stopping back through a nearby village called Tongo Tongo around 8:30 AM.
    There, the Nigerien force requested they stop to eat, while U.S. soldiers met with a village elder, who was “obviously and deliberately trying to stall them,” according to the official.
    “He was definitely stalling as long as he could to keep us there,” the survivor said, saying he had an entourage, showed the unit a child with an illness, and even grabbed a goat he wanted to prepare for them.
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