I never thought I'd read about this again in my lifetime but it does look like the United States Army left a missing and possibly wounded soldier behind when the Niger army unit he was attached to was attacked.
WASHINGTON (AP) — After an extensive search, a U.S. soldier who had been missing for nearly two days in Niger was found dead, a result of a deadly ambush by dozens of Islamic extremists on a joint patrol of American and Niger forces, U.S. military officials said Friday.
The soldier, whose name has not been released, was one of four U.S. troops and four Niger forces killed in the attack.
His body was found by Niger soldiers on Friday near where the ambush occurred, and then transferred into U.S. custody at a safer location further from the attack site, said Army Col. Mark Cheadle, spokesman for U.S. Africa Command. The soldier's body was then moved onto an American helicopter by U.S. forces in a somber ceremony and then taken away for formal identification.
Eight Niger soldiers and two U.S. troops were wounded in the attack, but they were evacuated from the area on Wednesday after the attack unfolded. Cheadle said there was no indication the missing soldier was ever taken captive by the enemy forces.
U.S. officials described a chaotic assault in a densely wooded area, as 40-50 extremists in vehicles and on motorcycles fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at the patrol, setting off explosions and shattering windows. The soldiers got out of their trucks, returning fire and calling in support from French helicopters and fighter jets that quickly responded to the scene, according to officials. It's unclear if the French aircraft were armed or if they fired on the insurgents.I had read about the attack on, and the death of three American Special Forces soldiers earlier this week but nothing was said about abandoning a missing soldier to his fate.
It looks like the Army is running into some basic competency failures just as the Navy is. The Navy decided to address their problem by firing the guys left holding the bag after the bean counting CNOs and SECNAVs of the last 20 years carefully and methodically gutted the Navy shore training establishment, gutted the manpower on our warships by stripping 'unessential' personnel from the ships in order to save a buck so the CNO could by his pathetic little crappy ships and boondoggle ZUMWALT class toothless tigers and then gutted the afloat training commands while over committing the Navy's few remaining ships to the same scheduled requirements that were once the purview of a navy twice the size.
I suspect Secretary Mattis is going to have a word with SOCOM and AFRICOM and perhaps try to impress upon them that we don't leave our men behind, Ever.
UPDATE: From Army Times:
On the day of the attack, about a dozen U.S. special operators and a platoon-sized element of Nigerien forces were conducting a vehicle mounted patrol “to establish relations with local leaders,” said to Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for AFRICOM.
The patrol came under heavy enemy fire, and U.S. forces responded, killing the enemy forces, Cheadle said.
U.S. forces didn’t have armed aircraft overhead during the onset of the mission, Cheadle said, but the patrol was being watched by overhead drone assets.So it looks like they were shoved through the wire to go make friends with the terrorists in the neighborhood and the terrorists probably had no problems setting up an ambush since the U.S. forces were clearly somewhere under that drone. The drone was probably piping real-time imagery to U.S. AFRICA COMMAND's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. After all, the 1500 staff pogues stationed at the Africa Command's headquarters in Germany need something to occupy their time and attention when they're at work.