Tags: james stavridis | niger | ambush | terror | troops

Stavridis 'Surprised' Niger Troop Levels Not Known in Congress

Stavridis 'Surprised' Niger Troop Levels Not Known in Congress
Admiral James Stavridis (Panayiotis Tzamaros/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:30 AM

The war on terror is moving quickly, but it's surprising U.S. political leaders didn't know about the numbers of U.S. troops in Niger, former NATO Supreme Commander Europe James Stavridis said Tuesday.

"In fairness, the war on terror is a noble operation [and] things are moving fast," the retired admiral, now the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and chief military analyst for NBC and MSNBC, commented on the "Morning Joe" program. "Eight hundred, 900 troops, that's something you would think our senior political leaders on the hill would be aware of."

Since last week, several senators have commented that they did not know the military had been operating in Niger until the deaths of four Green Berets were killed in the African country.

"When you consider what happened here, the four sergeants lost their lives, I think there's a lot of work that both parties and both branches of government need to do," Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., told CNN on Monday. "Not only to stay more informed but to focus on why we're there and what happened to get to the bottom of this."

On Monday, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said that the families of the four slain Green Berets, Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, of Miami; Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia, deserve answers.

He also admitted several matters must be resolved, including whether the United States had adequate intelligence and equipment for its operation, whether there a planning failure and why it took so long to recover Johnson's body.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., both told NBC on Sunday that they didn't know there were up to 1,000 U.S. troops in Niger.

Graham also commented that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., is "rightly" frustrated at the lack of information.

Stavridis, however, said that when he was was the leader of U.S. Southern Command and the United States had troops in Colombia at the "absolute peak" of its mission there, he went in monthly to check on troops. He added he is "very surprised a deployment of that size" in Niger had not been known about by senior U.S. officials.

Niger, meanwhile, is an important part of the world, said Stavridis.

"I think you need to separate the strategic importance of the mission and the tactical failure of the mission," he said. "Strategically, the mission in broad strokes makes sense, we're going after the Islamic State."

Niger is also north of Nigeria, a major partner of the United States, and France has a mission next door in Mali, said Stavridis.

"It just hurts your heart as a senior military [official]," said the retired admiral. "We've got to get answers quickly, not only for the family, but for the entire U.S. military and for the country."

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The war on terror is moving quickly, but it's surprising U.S. political leaders didn't know about the numbers of U.S. troops in Niger, former NATO Supreme Commander Europe James Stavridis said Tuesday.
james stavridis, niger, ambush, terror, troops
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2017-30-24
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:30 AM
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