A probe into the Niger ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers is expected to recommend reducing ground missions in West Africa and stripping field commanders of the autonomy that allows them to send service members on risky missions, The New York Times reported.
According to the Marine Times, an independent news sources for the US Marine community, although the report has not been released, two military officials with knowledge of the findings spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity.
The military investigation focused on the events surrounding the ambush in Tongo Tongo, Niger, on Oct. 4. Four Americans and five Nigeriens were killed near a remote village close to Niger’s border with Mali. The region is flush with activity by militants associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, who often engage local authorities and even French forces operating in Mali.
The report also highlights the bad decision-making process that may have led to the deadly ambush, according to those sources.
The investigation found that there was a communications breakdown that resulted from unchecked equipment the soldiers took on their mission.
When the unit came under attack, they were unable to establish direct communication with the French aircraft providing cover. Instead, the soldiers had to relay coordinates through other forces in Niamey, Niger’s capital, roughly 120 miles away.
The report is expected to advise that U.S. troops should continue accompanying partner forces in the region on armed patrols, but the missions should be more thoroughly vetted, the sources said.
One measure to subject ground operations to more scrutiny may include approval from senior leadership at U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, or possibly the Pentagon, according to the sources.