Team leader warned he didn't have right equipment, intel prior to deadly Niger attack: report

Team leader warned he didn't have right equipment, intel prior to deadly Niger attack: report

The leader of a team of American soldiers warned prior to last year’s deadly attack in Niger that they did not have the right equipment or intelligence necessary for their mission, according to preliminary Pentagon findings reported by The New York Times on Tuesday

The ongoing Defense Department investigation also found that the mission was not approved by senior military officials, but was instead ordered by a junior officer, according to two Pentagon officials.

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Four U.S. troops and five Nigerien soldiers were killed, and two other American soldiers and eight Nigerien troops were wounded in the gun battle, which was partially recorded on one soldier's helmet camera. 

The helmet footage was released by ISIS earlier this month.

Operational Detachment-Alpha Team 3212 was originally to go on a routine patrol lasting just a day to meet with tribal elders. The team instead was redirected miles away to an overnight operation against the ISIS-linked militant Doundoun Cheffou.

The redirect should have come from senior officers up the chain of command, starting in Niger and ending at the U.S. Africa Command base in Stuttgart, Germany.

Instead it was ordered by a junior officer — filling in for a regional commander on paternity leave — who had the same rank as the leader of Team 3212, which would not be within normal lines of authority, the two officials told the Times.

The early findings indicate that officers up the chain of command thought the team was only completing the daylong mission, they said.

The Americans killed in the mission were Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson.

The findings could change as Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNew Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, review them, one official said.

Officials at U.S. Africa Command have been investigating the incident for months, under intense scrutiny from government officials and the media, but the report has yet to be released.

Mattis told reporters last week that he expected aides to provide him information by Monday, and that he was also awaiting Dunford’s advice on the report.