Following the recent dust-up between President Donald Trump and a Florida Congresswoman over his condolence call to the widow of a U.S. Army soldier lost fighting terrorists in Niger, many were left wondering why American forces were in Niger in the first place, and why they were vulnerable to a deadly ambush by the enemy.
According to ABC News, the troops involved in the ambush were part of a Green Beret detachment providing advice and assistance in counter-terrorism to the local forces of Niger, who have been fighting various terrorist groups for years, including an affiliate of the Islamic State group that has set up shop in the Greater Sahara region.
Former President Barack Obama initially sent about 150 troops to Niger to assist both Nigerien and French troops that were battling terrorists, a force that was eventually increased to around 800 — though most of those were construction and support troops involved in building and operating a major surveillance drone base — with less than 100 actual combat-ready troops.
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On the day of the fateful mission, an 8-12 man U.S. team accompanied a number of Nigerien troops on a routine patrol to a small village on the border with Mali. They were then ambushed by more than 50 terrorists with heavy weapons like machine guns and rockets as they left to return to base.
A fierce firefight ensued that ultimately left four Americans killed, and it was later ended only by French fighter jets buzzing the enemy to force their dispersal, allowing helicopters operated by the French and an American contractor to evacuate the wounded and dead.
But questions abound as to why such a small force of American troops were out in the field with inadequate resources to engage in a massive combat firefight with no immediate air cover provided by American forces, and Daniel Greenfield of FrontPage Mag squarely pointed a finger at Obama and his policies.
Greenfield noted that “It was Obama’s policy to put American soldiers in harm’s way without going on the offensive,” in that he “wanted to avoid triggering Islamic terrorists by fighting them too aggressively.”
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Indeed, Obama spread U.S. forces far and wide in small numbers — typically hampered by extremely restrictive rules of engagement — to make it appear to the public as if his administration was widely combating terror without actually accomplishing much in the way of major achievements against our nation’s sworn enemies.
It should be noted that Islamic extremism has grown by leaps and bounds in North and West Africa over the years since the Arab Spring and Obama’s controversial intervention in Libya — one that turned the country into a terrorist haven from which assorted terror groups have since spread to the surrounding region.
To be sure, President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have worked diligently to address and rectify the many shortcomings in Obama’s military policies, but it would be foolish to think they could fix eight years worth of dangerous mismanagement in only eight months, particularly while a number of arguably more important flashpoints had flared up, such as North Korea and the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Some of the restrictive policies still remain in place in some areas.
Hopefully the military’s investigation of this terrible incident will answer any remaining questions and make clear where the blame — if any — should be placed, and what policies should be discontinued as soon as possible.
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