Niamey, Niger — On late Wednesday evening reports came to light that a 12 man team of U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha members, or what is known as a Green Beret ODA, and their Nigerien Army counterparts were ambushed. In the ensuing ambush both U.S. and Nigerien forces suffered casualties, SOFREP through its sources were able to verify that three Green Berets from the U.S. Army 3rd Special Forces Group and one Nigerien interpreter were killed with two Green Berets being wounded in the firefight and evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) would only confirm the numbers of causalities in an updated press release earlier today saying;
“On Oct. 4, three (3) U.S. service members and one partner nation member were killed while the U.S. was providing advice and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations, approximately 200 km north of Niamey, in southwest Niger. Additionally, two U.S. service members were injured and evacuated in stable condition to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Names are being withheld as part of the next of kin notification process. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen service members. U.S. Forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, in their efforts to counter violent extremist organizations in the region.”
However, after speaking with several well-placed sources, SOFREP has learned grim details of how the ambush took place and why the Green Berets were there.
The Green Berets arrived in Niger some time in the early summer where the team was assigned to a 30 man force from the Niger Forces Armées Nigeriennes (FAN) paramilitary unit. The job of this Special Forces team was to conduct what is known as Foreign Internal Defense (FID) training in which the Green Berets which would further train their Nigerien paramilitary unit in the art of guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency tactics and military operations within and along Niger’s borders.
Having Green Berets in Niger for this type of mission is a highly strategic one, mainly due to the country’s borders with Algeria, Mali, and Libya, all of which have large terror groups such as the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda in the Magreb (AQIM) within them. And borders don’t seem to phase these terror groups as they flow through in the rural sub-Saharan desert areas near the border, to either establish training camps, pass on through to the next conflict zone, or worse, move human prisoners. Many of said prisoners are young girls and children, who are sent to black market slave traders in Gao, Mali and Libya to finance their terror operations.
The Green Berets’ mission was to disrupt and destroy those operations, through training of and accompanying their Nigerien military counterparts on raids as direct combat advisors. This is one of the many “Low Intensity Irregular Warfare” tasks the Green Berets are trained to do.
The Green Beret team found themselves in the southwestern region of Tongo Tongo near the Niger-Malian borders. A steady stream of reporting had indicated that al-Qaeda linked elements from the terrorist group known as al-Qaeda in the Magreb (AQIM) were moving about within the area months prior to the ambush on Wednesday. The Green Berets along with their Nigerien force of 30 most likely set up a forward operating camp in Tongo Tongo with the intent on routing terrorists groups crossing into Mali along with disrupting their basecamps within Niger as well.
The Green Berets found themselves returning from a patrol searching for terrorist activity Wednesday when they were hit by an ambush. SOFREP through its sources has learned that the size of the enemy was a large force of insurgents from the terror group AQIM. They Green Berets and their counterparts were met with withering automatic fire from the large ambushing force and the Green Berets responded in kind by returning fire in an attempt to break the attack’s momentum and prevent getting massacred.
The size of the joint U.S. Green Beret and Nigerien force was 42 men, so initially the ambush was, in essence what was known as a “force-on-force” battle. Short of the surprise of being ambushed, the joint unit had a chance. However, SOFREP discovered through its sources that the Nigerien unit with the Green Berets may have run away in the panic of the ambush leaving the 12 man Green Beret ODA to slug it out on their own.
The Green Berets who were fighting for their lives radioed to their higher command in the region that they were in what is known as “troops in contact” by a large force and that they had men killed and wounded and that they were dangerously close to be surrounded and cut to pieces. This type of situation in Iraq or Afghanistan would have been passed throughout the military chain in what was called a “Broken Arrow” scenario and the Green Beret team would have been given every air support asset in the region to pound the enemy force back and into submission.
However, no air support came for the Green Beret team, there were no warplanes or attack helicopters available in Niger. The Green Berets were left to fight for their lives while they waited for a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) of their fellow Green Berets who were rushing to the ambush site where three Americans already lay dead.
Many in the United States are shocked to learn that elite U.S. Army Green Berets are in a place called Niger let alone Africa thinking this is a shadow war of sorts where the Trump administration is running so called black ops in Africa without the knowledge of the American people. That idea is wholly inaccurate, and the Green Berets along with U.S. Special Operations have been in Africa since the 1960’s; U.S. SOF has always had a presence in Africa.
The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has had Special Forces train, advise, and assist missions in Africa for decades. Yet, after the Obama administration ceased all offensive operations for the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) theatre in Afghanistan in 2014. The Obama administration took that war’s budget and troop strength and refocused it in Africa to stop the ever-increasing spread of radical Islamic terrorism throughout the African continent under auspices of the U.S. Global War on Terror (GWOT).
SOFREP will continue to bring you updates on this fluid situation as more information comes available.
Feature image courtesy of: DVIDS