The Defense Department owes the families of the soldiers lost in Niger and the American people an explanation of what the soldiers were doing in Niger and why it was important, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said the four Special Forces soldiers who were killed and the two who were wounded in the Oct. 4 action, were conducting an important train, advise and assist mission with Nigerien forces.
Building Capacity of Local Forces
“Our soldiers are operating in Niger to build the capacity of local forces to defeat violent extremism in West Africa,” the general said at a Pentagon news conference. “Their presence is part of a global strategy.”
The soldiers were on patrol with forces from Niger, he said, when a group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attacked. “As we've seen many times, groups like ISIS and al-Qaida pose a threat to the United States, the American people and our allies,” Dunford said. “They’re a global threat enabled by the flow of foreign fighters, resources and their narrative.”
The four soldiers -- Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright -- were training local forces to conduct security in their own country. The four Americans were part of a multinational response to the threat these violent extremists pose.