Tactical Analysis: Niger SF Ambush (Updated Blog Version)

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    • #95805
      Max
      Keymaster

        I have now taken this off the blog and will leave it on the forum only.

        Tactical Analysis: Niger SF Ambush 

        This tactical analysis is concerned with the tragic events in Niger on October 4 2017, when four U.S. service members were killed by enemy action. The purposes of this analysis is to take away constructive lessons learned. When doing so, it is important to not become emotional over the deaths of these men in combat. Some of the video here is very distressing – the purpose is however, to constructively learn lessons that may save lives in future actions. The nature of combat is chaos and the unknown and there was clearly a lot of that present in this incident. Nothing here is to second guess the actions of these brave men, who fought hard and died – rather, what changes to training and SOP may be beneficial to future incidents?

        Regarding this incident being ‘an ambush.’ That is an often repeated media term, but in a strict military sense it applies to a specific deliberate ambush operation. When reviewing the summary video, it gives the impression more of a pursuit and envelopment by a superior number of enemy forces. It certainly does not appear that an ambush was set in place to the east of the trail that the convoy was using out of the village. Instead, fire initially came from the rear and was apparently sporadic. The enemy was then constantly maneuvering around to the east and south in an envelopment, or left flanking, action. This was not an ambush in the sense of a designated kill zone and stop groups. Thus, it may  be that having received Intel on the presence of the convoy, the enemy forces moved to engage in a pursuit that turned into an envelopment. If this was (or arguably was) an ambush, it was  a badly conceived one, that succeeded due to continuing envelopment, superior numbers and heavier weapon systems. It was clear that the contact point did not initially receive a coordinated, accurate, ambush weight of fire – as such, it was survivable and the friendly forces were able to move relatively freely and huddle for cover behind unarmored vehicles, which never became immobilized in the initial kill zone (not the U.S. ones).

        The way I will conduct this analysis is to embed the two videos and then comment related to the timeline of each one. Most of the commentary will be about the Department of Defense video, which gives a detailed summary of the whole incident.

        This first video is shocking and is taken from helmet cam (GoPro, worn by SSG Johnson) captured by enemy forces. It was put out as propaganda and has been heavily edited. There is even a point in the video where it has been looped to make it look like the two men were running further. The point of the video here is to give context and feel to the summary video. There is no sound in this version.

        Captured GoPro Video (ISIS Propaganda):

        Warning: Note that from about 3:48 in this video, you do not need to watch. The action is covered in the comments below. The video is shocking.

        Summary:

        0:00 – This part of the video shows enemy forces. It is not clear what the timeline is as it relates to the GoPro video. Possibly it was taken with the GoPro after it was captured? Or, other footage edited in. Whatever the answer, it shows a disorganized ‘mob’ lacking in discipline and training, moving forwards across the area of engagement as individuals.

        0:30 – An initial view from the black SUV cuts to SSG Johnson at the white gun truck. He gets in and drives it forward onto the main ‘road.’ This action is detailed in the summary video. The convoy had been moving left to right as referenced to the field of view of the video, and the main part of the convoy is off to the right of camera view. As he gets out, you see the black SUV on the left, with three soldiers behind it. This is the truck to which SSG Johnson will move, and he and two others will attempt to move out of the kill zone, and all three will die. This is initially confusing, because SSG Johnson moves to this black SUV and becomes one of only three soldiers there – so one soldier must have move off out of camera shot. Note that none of these vehicles are armored.

        1:07 – SSG Johnson is at the black SUV.

        1:12 – The black SUV is now moving to the right. SSG’s Black and Wright are also with this vehicle. Note: this is an unarmored vehicle that has not been immobilized, will provide limited cover, but was not under sufficient enemy fire that it could not be driven out by a driver sitting on the contact (enemy) side of the vehicle.

        1:50 – The black SUV reaches the red smoke dropped by the lead part of the convoy when they moved out. This is referenced in the summary video.

        2:06 – There has been a cut in the video. SGG Johnson is on the ground for the first time shown, and may or may not have been hit at this time. The vehicle is maneuvering back and forth. SSG Black had been hit at this time and it does look like they may have been trying to load him in the front passenger seat for extraction, from where he subsequently falls out, around the time (2:12 approx.) the vehicle is driving forward and SSG Johnson falls down.

        2:33 – SSG Johnson is with SSG Black.

        2:42: SSG Wright exits the vehicle to help. SSG Johnson appears to be looking around at this time and may be using the PTT transmit button on his radio (you see his arm come up), it may be that he is looking for the remainder of the convoy which is off to the right, maybe communicating the situation, possibly asking for extraction?

        3:03 – SSG Wright drags the body of SSG Black behind the vehicle.

        3:22 – This is the beginning of the scene where SSG Johnson and Wright move off on foot. They are running together without fire and movement. The situation appears desperate.

        3:41 – The video is looped to make it seem like they ran further.

        3:48 – SSG Johnson goes down. This is where in the summary video, SSG Wright moves back to him and they are both KIA at that location.

        The remainder of the video is shocking and does not need to be watched. Enemy forces move over their position and they are firing security rounds at the two soldiers to ensure they are finished. This in itself is not a shocking action, as we train our troops the same way moving through a position or in an ambush, but we never want to see ISIS forces prevailing against ours.

        Department of Defense Incident Summary Video:

        0:00 – The convoy moves out from the village. It is a moving and established convoy.

        0:12 – The convoy receives sporadic small arms fire from the rear. In the video, it appears to be from the village they just left. “Enemy fire was initially light, but intensified as they (the enemy) advanced through the woods on the team position.” This must have been a rapid advance given that the column was moving almost directly away in vehicles (north to south) and the first enemy is shown coming from north east as they advance. This is part of why I assess that it was not an ambush, but a pursuit / envelopment.

        0:28: “At this point, the convoy halted.” Sadly this was the one tactical decision that resulted in the cascading disaster and the casualties. I do not know the team’s specific mission or ROE / posture. There is a quote a little later stating they donned PPE after dismounting the vehicles – which means they were not wearing body armor (or at least helmets). This speaks to posture. Yes, it was  a surprise attack. From watching the GoPro video, and from their actions in the summary video, it appears they had no idea, nor did they expect, such a strong enemy force. The actions may have come from over-confidence and lack of knowledge of the true threat they faced, which became apparent later when it was too late. This is of course an intelligence failure.

        Preferred contact drill: “Drive, Drive, Drive.” No vehicles immobilized, exit the kill zone.

        It must also be remembered that deployments in AFRICOM are not considered ‘war fighting’ in the same way as Iraq or Afghanistan, and there is thus not the fire support available – close air, artillery, armed drone, attack helicopter etc, that has become accustomed too in those theaters. A mix of less combat experience / SUT training among some members of the team, along with a cultural / systemic reliance on heavy support assets during the GWOT experience of most (except the most experienced) SF members, could have contributed to the actions taken. In an engagement such as this, unsupported, teams must rely on integral firepower and small unit tactics, and not expect outside support. The past 17 years of the GWOT encompasses the careers of most SF soldiers (and non-SF) and it has mostly been fought in a certain way with a lot of support available. Basic small unit infantry tactics, both mounted and dismounted, must not be neglected. They are the building blocks of competence in contact, and must be rehearsed in detail by teams on an ongoing basis.

        0:37  – On dismount, US vehicle’s 1 and 3 began returning fire with mounted M240 belt-fed medium machine-guns. These fire 7.62 NATO (.308). This gives the lie to some commentators who have mentioned a lack of medium / heavy support weapons and reliance on the 5.56mm M4.

        0:50 – The convoy is static with all personnel dismounted. Orientation is roughly north / south with the enemy currently to the north east, making this a ‘contact left’ situation. It appears that US vehicle 3 is the white gun truck that SSG Johnson is seen in the GoPro to drive forwards before moving to the black SUV.

        0:56 – The US Team commander and four Nigerien soldiers made a right flanking attack. Why did he take only Nigerien soldiers, and why only four? This was a ballsy move and is classic small unit tactics (SUT). It also shows that at this time they had no idea of the numbers of enemy, nor their intent to envelope them in a left flanking movement.

        1:13 – This is where vehicle 3 moves up to the position where we first see it on the GoPro video. Now we have support fire going down from not only small arms, but the two vehicle mounted belt-fed guns. This is a classic base of fire to support the move of the team commander on his right flanking assault. Having decided to stay in the kill zone, an aggressive response is now unfolding. Any available Intel on the size of this force would probably have averted this decision, but at the time it was not known.

        1:21 – Reference to SSG Johnson moving from vehicle 3 to vehicle 2 – the black SUV.

        1:35 – Nigerien vehicle 5 departed and disappeared. Interesting. None of the other Nigerien troops seem to have run away at any time, except when forced to break contact. From the summary, they appear to have performed with courage and discipline. They were taking cover in the trees, which in fact is not a bad tactical decision, faced with a choice of concealment on the ground, or the ‘protection’ of unarmored vehicles static in the kill zone. How much they were contributing to the firefight is not known.

        1:45 – The commander and his right flanking element advance on the flank until stopped by a body of water. This team commander is a good man. He is stepping up and doing it, I have a lot of time for this. He should probably get a medal, rather than censure. Having made the decision to not drive out, but to stop and engage, we are seeing a classic offensive react to contact drill play out. They engage the enemy.

        2:00 – This is where they gain real time ground Intel – through direct observation by the team commander. He sees the enveloping movement to the east of his position, and the enemy vehicles. This is when he gets a clue as to the seriousness of the situation. Having gone static and made that error, having subsequently gone to the flank was an excellent move, because it not only hit the enemy in the flank, but gathered information. If the convoy had just sat in place perhaps waiting for support (that never came) they would have been enveloped in place and perhaps none of the vehicles would have got out. The flanking element then sensibly withdraws.

        2:13 – The team commander then issues the right order to move off to the south, to prevent the envelopment. The move was not immediate because Nigerien forces were taking cover nearby and needed to be recovered to the vehicles  – and during that time, two Nigerien vehicles were immobilized by enemy fire, as the envelopment reached around to their right flank.

        2:40 – This is where the order to move was given and red smoke was popped. There is narration about SSG Johnson returning a thumbs up. I cannot help but feel that in the confusion there was  a misunderstanding, perhaps of what that meant, or even of the extent or distance of the move.

        3:00 – This is where we get to the part from the GoPro video where SSG Wright is driving vehicle 2 (black SUV) and SSG’s Johnson and Black are walking on the side away from the enemy. The other two US vehicles and the two Nigerien vehicles mounted up and moved out, leaving the three soldiers moving slowly with their vehicle. This does not make sense. It may be a communications issue. Maybe a specific vehicle use training issue. Maybe one just due to the confusion and misunderstanding.

        This is where the main events of the GoPro video are recounted. Reaching the red smoke, the other vehicles have left. They must have assumed that the black SUV was following, but it was not. After SSG Black is KIA, and the two take off running, they are heading in the direction where the other vehicles have gone, perhaps feeling that they have been left behind, and trying to make the extraction.

        In the GoPro video, there is no visible damage to the black SUV. The glass is still in place, and AK rounds would tear through the vehicle skin leaving visible raw exit wounds on our side. SSG Wright was able to sit in the driver’s seat and drive the vehicle without being hit. This shows that the fire from the initial enemy position to the east is not effective (effective enemy fire is causing casualties, or would do so, if you were not to take cover). It is not an ambush weight of fire, and it is survivable. The threat to the black SUV comes from the envelopment and from being left alone in the kill zone.

        When the other vehicles moved, the black SUV should have mounted up and driven out. They did not. When the surviving two decided to leave the SUV and move out on foot, they should have done so by fire and movement preferably peeling between the two of them. Clearly, they were being enveloped and the situation was critical. But the fact that they were hit while running shows the importance of fire and movement and taking cover. It may have been that the situation was so critical that they would not have gotten out anyway, and of course you cannot suppress everything when there are only two of you.

        Preferred drills:

        1) Support fire from the flank (south east) gun truck(s) while the black SUV mounts up and drives out. Once past, the gun trucks follow. Peel out using fire and movement between vehicles.

        2) Given that the SUV is unarmored, if the fire was heavy enough that driving was not wise, the dismounted crew would have performed a three man break contact peel towards the gun trucks, with support fire from the belt-feds mounted on them. Then, mount up and drive out.

        3) Given none of the above, and SSG Black KIA, SSG’s Johnson and Wright could have broken contact directly to the rear (west) away from the envelopment, where the vegetation is thicker, and moved into the trees / swamp where the team actually later ends up. They would then be on an E&E and needing to link up with the team. But sadly, moving as they did at the run was across the front of the enveloping enemy. This is not to criticize actions taken in the chaos and confusion of combat, but simply a learning observation.

        4:14 – We now move to the surviving vehicles having escaped the initial envelopment and moving to ‘position 2’ which appears to be an initial rally point. This is 700 meters south of the original contact point. They had realized, at some point, that vehicle 2 had not made it out and had not followed them. There may have been radio communication from SSG Johnson as referred to above when he is kneeling by SSG Black. They may have had no idea that the crew of vehicle 2 was now KIA. Two team members head back on foot to the north. I know why this happened – personal courage and selfless love for their brothers. But this was a huge mistake. It split the group yet again. They were on foot – how could they have extracted any wounded personnel anyway? It is a blessing that those two were not also lost. It is my opinion that no-one at all should have gone back on foot, or the whole element should have moved back in vehicles to confirm the fate of Black, Johnson and Wright, as a strong combat patrol. Perhaps the Nigeriens were not willing at that point?

        4:48 – Now we focus on the action at the new rally / strongpoint, which appears to be situated out in open desert. The enemy mobile pursuit has continued the envelopment and has now reached this position. We learn of the ultimate fate of SGT Johnson. This again appears to have been a misunderstanding in the confusion, where the team thought he had mounted up, but in fact enemy fire had prevented him getting into the vehicle.

        5:12  – Once you have broken contact, if your rally point (or strongpoint) is subsequently attacked by following enemy, then you have not broken contact. Ideally , your position also functions as a hasty ambush, you can hit the enemy hard, and then begin another withdrawal over a terrain feature or suitable ground. SGT Johnson’s mounted machinegun had run out of ammunition. Ammunition must have been getting low all around. But the team could not break contact with two having gone north and at this time another two following them. The first pair encounter enemy who have overrun the original vehicle position, and break contact. They meet up with the other pair and make a team of four. The summary says they are still trying to get to vehicle 2. This is extremely selfless and understandable, but the splitting of the patrol and the team of four remaining up there holds the team in position in contact with the enemy. The sad reality is that they did not have the numbers or support to successfully push the enemy off the position and recover their teammates. They needed to break contact.

        5:44 – The overwhelming numbers of the enemy envelopment have now put them to the south of position 2. Escape is cut off in that direction. The team was held there by the four who had gone north. Once the team leader orders a withdrawal, two Nigerien vehicles do succeed in moving off to the south west, which is not yet blocked.

        6:10 – This is where, in the chaos, the team thinks SGT Johnson has mounted up, but he has not been able to. Vehicle 1 heads north. SGT Johnson and two Nigeriens end up having to try and break contact to the west. This was, again, done at the run and not as fire and movement. Hence, the two Nigeriens are hit on the run by overwhelming enemy fire. The enemy was able to pursue so fast due to the use of vehicles. They ran SGT Johnson to ground and he was KIA.

        8:40 – Vehicle 1 is overloaded and getting hammered by fire, so that most of them are now wounded. They are heading north back to the original ambush position, the enemy has enveloped them to the south and west.

        9:12 – The vehicle bogs in. It appears by chance that it was in the vicinity of the four personnel who had gone back north earlier. It is not clear what they were doing at the time. The team is able to reunite.

        9:24 – With no working vehicles, the team radios in that they are being overrun. The summary video states that this was the first call for help? I am not sure how this equates with reports of French aircraft being on site but failing to act in support?  That possible timeline is not covered. The video states that they then moved through the swamp, after destroying their radios, and broke contact with the enemy. It is likely that their use of ground unsuitable for vehicles was what led them to successfully break contact.

        The video ends with the team in a hasty defensive position, but before details of how they were extracted were given. The video (this version) cuts off prematurely.

        EDIT: From page 5 of “OCT 2017 NIGER AMBUSH SUMMARY OF INVESTIGATION 10 May 2018” PDF:

        m. Upon receipt of the initial report of troops in contact, the AOB alerted Nigerien forces while the SOCCE alerted the French through their liaison officer. Both partners responded immediately. Nigerien ground forces departed 8 minutes after notification and arrived in Tongo Tongo approximately 4 hours and 25 minutes later due to distance, lack of roads, and rough terrain. French Mirage aircraft conducted the first show of force approximately 47 minutes after receiving notification. A single Nigerien helicopter took off approximately 40 minutes after receiving the request. The helicopter diverted prior to arrival in Tongo Tongo in order to de-conflict airspace for French jets. Despite being armed, the French aircraft were unable to engage because they could not identify U.S. troop locations and did not have communications with the team on the ground. Instead, they flew at low altitude in four separate shows of force that caused the enemy to retreat for cover, likely saving the lives of the surviving members of the USSOF Team. At approximately 1715, French forces from Task Force (TF) BARKHANE arrived in two helicopters and evacuated the surviving Soldiers.

        Summary:

        The situation was chaotic, unknown and a surprise of huge proportions. The team was attacked and enveloped by a numerically superior force utilizing heavy weapons. They clearly had no Intel that such a threat was in the area or even a possibility.

        A lot of personal courage and selfless action was on display. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place in terms of not wanting to leave their team mates to an unknown fate at the hands of ISIS, but not having the ability at that time to push the enemy back and recover them.

        Communication failures appear to have led to the deaths of all four servicemen. This is a case of both direct communication failure (such as SGT Johnson not being able to get in the truck and follow, and that not being known) and a combination of direct and indirect failure caused by lack of specific training.

        To clarify the above: the indirect communication failure comes from a lack of specific rehearsed and understood drills within a team. For example, in the paramilitary / contractor world, the use of civilian SUVs is extensive, whether armored or unarmored. Drills are understood and rehearsed. If, like this team, they were not on a specific war fighting mission with the necessary support or numbers, the imperative to break contact must be understood, along with the how of doing that. The how must be established as SOP and rehearsed by the team. The actions of vehicle 2 moving slowly in the kill zone would have been unacceptable as an SOP and training would have fixed that. Either 1) get in and drive out with support from other vehicles outside of the direct kill zone or 2) peel or bound out on foot, if the fire is too intense / accurate to survive in an unarmored vehicle.

        Vehicles are usually bullet magnets in the kill zone and it is testament to how survivable that ambush was that there was no damage to the vehicle or the personnel around and in it from the initial enemy position. It was only when the enemy appeared on their right flank that things started to go badly. Vehicle 2 should never have performed the action that it did and it should not have been left in the kill zone. Vehicle 2 (SSG Johnson) received some sort of order to move, but it is not clear how that was interpreted and how they had drilled (or not) to carry out a vehicle break contact drill.

        Once the team had moved out of the ambush site to position 2, the actions of personnel going back north held the team in place and assured that more casualties would be taken. Having initially broken contact and rallied, and assailed by an aggressive enemy force, they should have continued to break contact before they were enveloped.

        1) The patrol should never have initially stopped for the contact. Kept the convoy moving.

        2) If, having made the decision to abandon vehicle 2 in the kill zone, Johnson, Wright and Black would have been better off fire and maneuvering to the west to break contact into the swamp, to the vicinity of where the team ultimately ended up. They would then have been on an E&E plan and a personnel recovery mission would have been needed.

        3) Having reached position 2, the team should not have split, and should have moved out to the south west before they were prevented from doing so.

        Key to this is an apparent over-confidence, an impression I initially received from a lack of a sense of urgency at the start of the GoPro video. That could be viewed as coolness under fire, but I am not sure this team had a lot of operational experience among all members. Tie in this over-confidence, lack of the usual support assets, and a totally unexpected enemy force, and you have a disaster in the making. What is key is that basic small unit tactics cannot be neglected, and whether operating mounted or dismounted, team drills should be clearly laid out and rehearsed.

        Having decided to stay on site, the actions of the team commander and sergeant by establishing a base of fire and then leading a right flanking assault were excellent. Once the true threat was realized, the decision to move out was also the right call. It is unclear who made the decision to go back north from position 2.

        A BBC News report stated the following:

        A militia in Mali says it has recovered weapons and a vehicle abandoned by US special forces during a deadly ambush in Niger last year, and is prepared to return them to the Americans.

        The Tuareg rebel group says it seized the battered four-wheel-drive and two rifles during clashes with “bandits” on the Mali-Niger border.

        There is an M240 7.62mm medium machine gun sitting next to the vehicle in the photo. This is capable of significant firepower. Was this in the black SUV throughout the fight, or recovered from one of the gun trucks? Note the undamaged condition of the black SUV:

        Comments are closed on blog posts as a general MVT policy. The place for discussion, in a rational constructive environment, is the MVT Forum.

      • #95806
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
        Moderator

          Nothing here is to second guess the actions of these brave men, who fought hard and died – rather, what changes to training and SOP may be beneficial to future incidents?

          This can’t be emphasized enough, particularly when less experienced people are discussing such events.

          It is all too easy to put surviving members and their parent organization on the defensive and lose the opportunity to properly learn from these events.

          Many if not most military lessons learned are written in blood, we can’t allow emotions or politics cloud the importance constructive evaluation of events like this.

          If this was (or arguably was) an ambush, it was a badly conceived one, that succeeded due to continuing envelopment, superior numbers and heavier weapon systems.

          Historically; generally speaking, most SOF multiple casualty events are due to superior numbers and use of heavy weapons.

          There is even a point in the video where it has been looped to make it look like the two men were running further.

          Again as noted in previous Thread, I initially missed this and demonstrates the need for multiple eyes and/or review of work when fresh.

          0:00 – This part of the video shows enemy forces. It is not clear what the timeline is as it related to the GoPro video. Possibly it was taken with the GoPro after it was captured?

          Due to nature of edited copy of a copy, I was unable to confirm origin of that clip. As stated could be GoPro after or enemy footage.

          It has become common for terrorist to dedicate personnel to record actions for later use.

          From watching the GoPro video, and from their actions in the summary video, it appears they had no idea, nor did they expect, such a strong enemy force. The actions may have come from over-confidence and lack of knowledge of the true threat they faced, which became apparent later when it was too late. This is of course an intelligence failure.

          This is hard for me to relate to and shows a bias on my part.

          Even though my career has overlap into GWOT, I come from a earlier generation of the U.S. Military.

          Due to the secretive and covert operations involvement of my early career where we seldom had the fire support available as in OEF/OIF, which led us to a far different view to any contact.

          Preferred contact drill: “Drive, Drive, Drive.” No vehicles immobilized, exit the kill zone.

          Quoted for emphasis.

          It must also be remembered that deployments in AFRICOM are not considered ‘war fighting’ in the same way as Iraq or Afghanistan, and there is thus not the fire support available – close air, artillery, armed drone, attack helicopter etc, that has become accustomed too in those theatres.

          I wonder how much this truly played into teams mentality? Is this a institutional problem or a lack of experience problem?

          …AK rounds would tear through the vehicle skin leaving visible raw exit wounds on our side.

          Easily overlooked and worth repeating, the SUV was not providing much cover.

          This again appears to have been a misunderstanding in the confusion, where the team thought he had mounted up, but in fact enemy fire had prevented him getting into the vehicle.

          What should have prevented such continuing communication failures?

          They clearly had no Intel that such a threat was in the area or even a possibility.

          Operations in these theaters tend to get briefed so often on possible threats that rarely result in contact. This all too often leads to a general dismissal of the true threat.

          No way of knowing at this point, but does happen.

          Vehicles are usually bullet magnets in the kill zone and it is testament to how survivable that ambush was that there was no damage to the vehicle or the personnel around and in it from the initial enemy position.

          US Niger ambush: Mali militia says it has American vehicle and weapons

          Excerpt:

          A militia in Mali says it has recovered weapons and a vehicle abandoned by US special forces during a deadly ambush in Niger last year, and is prepared to return them to the Americans.

          The Tuareg rebel group says it seized the battered four-wheel-drive and two rifles during clashes with “bandits” on the Mali-Niger border.

          Note the relative good condition of SUV.

          The nature of combat is chaos and the unknown and there was clearly a lot of that present in this incident. Nothing here is to second guess the actions of these brave men, who fought hard and died – rather, what changes to training and SOP may be beneficial to future incidents?

          Again worth repeating to stress why this discussion needs to happen.

        • #95807
          Max
          Keymaster

            I’m editing / adding to this and posting on the blog shortly.

            I saw a link from WRSA to The Captain’s journal and his assessment of this. That Herschel is an idiot, he is commenting (again) on things he has no knowledge about. He does not realize they had belt feds. Typically, playing checkers not chess, and his comments are mostly about the rifles and sights that the SF were equipped with.

          • #95808
            Max
            Keymaster
            • #95809
              Max
              Keymaster

                Is there a version of the DoD video that does not cut out at the end? How did the team ultimately get extracted?

              • #95810
                tango
                Participant

                  Thank you for writing this Max. Very detailed and paints a very interesting picture.

                  Light googling leads me to this info on how they ultimately got extracted:
                  http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/20788/the-u-s-militarys-niger-ambush-investigation-raises-more-questions-than-it-answers

                  A mix of American, Nigerien, and French forces subsequently arrived in the area. French Mirage 2000 multi-role combat jets and gunship and transport helicopters were particularly instrumental in driving off the ambushers and evacuating the surviving members of the combined force.

                  https://abcnews.go.com/International/american-troops-caught-deadly-niger-ambush-told-proceed/story?id=50871983

                  Two hours later, after the first shots were fired and one hour after the Americans called for help, French Mirage jets buzzed low over the battle, causing the attackers to hold their fire and many retreated into the local population. French Puma helicopters, accompanied by a pair of American Green Berets, from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso evacuated the wounded. Later, a U.S. contractor plane would take away the dead after Nigerien and American forces responded and secured the area.

                • #95811
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                  Moderator

                    Is there a version of the DoD video that does not cut out at the end? How did the team ultimately get extracted?

                    Haven’t found any version of DOD video that doesn’t cut out like that.

                    From page 5 of “OCT 2017 NIGER AMBUSH SUMMARY OF INVESTIGATION 10 May 2018” PDF:

                    m. Upon receipt of the initial report of troops in contact, the AOB alerted Nigerien forces while the SOCCE alerted the French through their liaison officer. Both partners responded immediately. Nigerien ground forces departed 8 minutes after notification and arrived in Tongo Tongo approximately 4 hours and 25 minutes later due to distance, lack of roads, and rough terrain. French Mirage aircraft conducted the first show of force approximately 47 minutes after receiving notification. A single Nigerien helicopter took off approximately 40 minutes after receiving the request. The helicopter diverted prior to arrival in Tongo Tongo in order to de-conflict airspace for French jets. Despite being armed, the French aircraft were unable to engage because they could not identify U.S. troop locations and did not have communications with the team on the ground. Instead, they flew at low altitude in four separate shows of force that caused the enemy to retreat for cover, likely saving the lives of the surviving members of the USSOF Team. At approximately 1715, French forces from Task Force (TF) BARKHANE arrived in two helicopters and evacuated the surviving Soldiers.

                  • #95812
                    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                    Moderator

                      Typically, playing checkers not chess, and his comments are mostly about the rifles and sights that the SF were equipped with.

                      Yea he missed the fact that Team had M240’s, M110 SASS, M320 variant Grenade Launcher, AT4’s, not to mention M4’s.

                      No shortage of gear there.

                    • #95813
                      Max
                      Keymaster

                        I have added to and updated the Blog version of this post, so that is worth a read. It has additional commentary.

                      • #95814
                        BrothersKeeper
                        Participant

                          It’s very hard to watch those two video’s dispassionately. Eternal gratitude and respect to the soldiers who gave their lives and the example of courage under fire from the rest of the team. Continued gratitude and respect to Max and the MVT cadre for teaching us how to stay alive in these horrible moments. I just got my tactical manual. I’ll be reading it with a renewed sense of purpose.

                        • #95815
                          wheelsee
                          Participant

                            It’s very hard to watch those two video’s dispassionately. Eternal gratitude and respect to the soldiers who gave their lives and the example of courage under fire from the rest of the team. Continued gratitude and respect to Max and the MVT cadre for teaching us how to stay alive in these horrible moments. I just got my tactical manual. I’ll be reading it with a renewed sense of purpose.

                            Bolded on purpose. It’s one of the reasons I appreciated Max’s focus on Rhodesia this past TX class. The way he phrased the lessons was one we could all relate to……he made it more personal, and IMHO, made us drive that much harder – “Terrs have attacked your neighbor’s farm”…..

                            Echoing – many thanks to Max for being the professional he is and that ability to drive home the lesson…..

                          • #95816
                            osozorro
                            Participant
                            • #95817
                              tango
                              Participant

                                So they “mischaracterized” their mission plan before it was being submitted to Nigerian authority approval. Sounds like they didn’t trust the Nigerian authorities.

                                They arrive in Tongo Tongo and the enemy force has just departed (warm fires, food supplies). Definitely nobody reporting their position ahead. Meeting with the village elder takes longer than expected. Definitely not stalling. On their route out they receive fire from the only cover around and conveniently from the direction they’re headed. How could somebody know to setup there? Weird. :unsure: :whistle:

                              • #95818
                                Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                Moderator

                                  Drone video:

                                  Appears to be the missing portion of DOD video.

                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GnJQL3epwk

                                • #95819
                                  JohnnyMac
                                  Participant

                                    Bumping this, since it’s an important learning point, paid for in blood.

                                  • #95820
                                    wheelsee
                                    Participant
                                    • #95821
                                      Lloyd
                                      Participant

                                        Update –

                                        “In an act of proper leadership, Secretary of Defence James Mattis has decided to exonerate the Special Forces Captain who led the botched Niger operation that resulted in the deaths of four Americans last year, and to instead hold accountable the senior leadership. Reports indicate that Colonel Brad Moses and Lieutenant Colonel David Painter, respectively commanders of the 3rd Special Forces Group and of the 2nd Battalion at the time of the ambush, are facing punishment…”

                                        Mattis exonerates Special Forces Captain who led the ODA ambushed in Niger and goes after senior officers

                                      • #95822
                                        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                        Moderator

                                          Don’t really know enough at this point to blame specifics, however this seems a positive move.

                                          I was concerned the about the negative effect on aggressive leadership among young detachment level SF types on future operations.

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