The Pentagon published a slim, eight-page summary of a larger report on the devastating special mission in Niger, in which four US soldiers were killed on 4 October.
New information, such as Sgt. La David Johnson fought militants affiliated with the Islamic State until his death and how long it took for the responding units to arrive answered some long questions about the unfortunate mission.
But in the absence of the full 180-page report – which officials have said must be carefully reviewed and edited before it is publicly released –
How has the enemy gathered in such a large group and remains undetected?
The summary and official remarks Thursday Not to shed much light on a big topic: Like about 100 militants were able to mass, plan and coordinate a complex attack with bazookas, machine guns and trucks with mounted heavy weapons.
This kind of activity would have created dust clouds like pickups and motorcycles with roaring engines criss-crossing the scrubland. At one point, militants set up attacks from multiple angles in a wooded area near the road, when the team realized the attack was much larger than they initially expected.
Some members of the 11-member team had left the ambush Unconscious three soldiers were left behind 700 meters away. They also came under heavy fire in their position, indicating enough enemy forces effectively coordinated to break off and pursue the second group of soldiers.
killed in the battle were Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39; Employee Sgt. Bryan C. Schwarz, 35; Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29; and Johnson, 25. Black and Wright were Special Forces soldiers, while both were Johnson's conventional soldiers assigned to the same 3rd Special Forces Group team.
Why did the commander remove a surveillance plane?
Marine gene. Thomas D. Waldhauser, head of the US Africa Command, revealed a key detail on the surveillance posture.
Operational Detachment Alpha Team 3212 Commander Captain Michael Perozeni ordered a surveillance aircraft to move north of their position and monitor "crossroads" Mali border after they had reached and believed the village of Tongo Tongo the night before the ambush Enemy forces are not in the immediate vicinity.
But Waldhauser did not explain why the plane was diverted. This plane could help consolidate enemy forces or other activities that might have warned of an impending attack.
It is possible that Perozeni feared that Mali's enemy forces would massively head for their position, but the officials did not work it out.] How did the commander-in-chief react during the attack?
The patrol on October 3 was initially submitted by Perozeni and another army captain they planned as a routine fact-finding mission near the border with Mali. No one in the chain of command was "aware of the true nature of the mission," which, according to the Pentagon summary, was actually designed to pursue a high-value goal.
However, after shutting off and turning left back to their base, the battalion commander who oversaw these Chadian-based forces ordered the team to pursue a goal based on the latest findings, showing that he was in one Camp was.
The team was to support an air raid unit, but bad weather forced them to reverse. The commander in Chad still ordered the team to pursue the target.
That means he would have understood that his troops were at heightened risk and probably other high commanders.
However, it is not clear whether the battalion commander revised the plan to increase the threat of resources such as more intelligence aircraft, or if he notified reaction forces, they should be on alert if enemy forces were encountered.
Delays in friendly response during and after the ambush were significant. A Nigerian helicopter took off 40 minutes after requesting assistance and left the area to avoid a collision with French Mirage jets.
These jets were armed but could not intervene because they had no radio contact with US troops and could not identify their positions. A Nigerian ground force arrived more than six hours after contact with the enemy.
The report does not say why the high commanders have not previously agreed the details with these aircraft. Synchronizing radio frequencies with ground and air support and ensuring their communication is a fundamental task for field commanders.
Is someone being punished for missing orders?
The summary of the report did not recommend any punishment for any command decisions. That had been left to the Special Operations Command and the Army, Waldhauser said.
A video image of the Nashir News Agency affiliated with the Islamic State allegedly shows the attack on US and Niger soldiers on October 4, 2017 in Tongo Tongo, Niger. It contains footage of a helmet camera of a soldier.
A military official said the full report screens out three people for possible blame, though it's unclear whether that includes Perozeni and the other captain.
Don Christensen, a former Air Force prosecutor, told the Washington Post that even without official punishment, the episode will permanently affect her career.
The summary revealed little about how much responsibility should rest on the battalion commander who had commanded the Captivity Mission. Those responsible for securing the troops were adequately trained and had timely and timely support.
Perozeni had warned the commanders before the mission that his team was not providing enough information or equipment for a killing or capture mission, the New York Times reported.
Remarkably, the investigation was conducted by Major General Roger L. Cloutier Jr., the Waldhauser's chief of the Sta. In contrast, the command turned to questions that its high-ranking leaders on this mission and in Niger itself failed to provide situational awareness and command control could have contributed.
Christensen said the Africa Command was spared the public accusation of senior commanders saying it was an example of "different spanks for different ranks" – military language for harsh sentences for younger troops, while senior leaders escaped punishment.
"It seems to be a deliberate avoidance, there's enough smoke there to make you think," why do not you look beyond them? "" Christensen said in reference to the two captains.
Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne contributed to this report.