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Armed Services Dem: Pentagon not forthcoming about Niger attack

A Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday that the Defense Department has not been forthcoming with details about an ambush in Niger that killed four American soldiers.

"Our job is to understand what's going on in the region, to make an assessment of what our goals, what our objectives are in a broad way, and then to put in place the proper policies. For example, do we have an authorization to use force in this area or not? Very big question," Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiTrump infrastructure plan gets cold reception House GOP leaders scramble for budget votes Repealing antiquated Jones Act would be a boon to all Americans MORE (D-Calif.) told CNN's "OutFront."

"But in addition to that, what resources are needed given the task that we have asked these soldiers to do," he added. "That's our job. The Pentagon has not been forthcoming."

Four Army Green Berets were killed in early October when their group was ambushed by 50 militants affiliated with the Islamic State.

Garamendi was asked by CNN's Erin Burnett why the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, was unable to answer whether the four slain Americans were wearing body armor at the time of the attack.

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"I'm not surprised, I'm really not surprised that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is not directly in all of this. Obviously, the investigations are underway, your reporting in the region has access, much better access than we do here. All of our information is filtered through the Pentagon, through the studies which do take three to six months and generally, by the time it's completed we're on to the next crisis," he said.

Garamendi repeated that the major issue at hand is why American troops are operating in Niger, and whether the military is authorized to combat the Islamic State in the region.

"This is a very serious issue, in that the question arises as to what is our mission in this part of Africa," Garamendi said. "Keep in mind, we're talking about a stretch of Africa that is longer than the entire breadth of the United States, some 4,000 miles, in which these violent extremist groups operate. We have to be very, very clear as to what is our objective in this area."