Pentagon team dispatched to Niger for basic clues on troop ambush

A Pentagon team headed to Niger has been tasked with finding basic information about why four U.S. soldiers were killed there more than two weeks ago.

The Africa Command (AFRICOM) will do a “review of the facts” of what exactly happened during the Oct. 4 ambush, Defense Department officials told NBC News.

What’s more: officials aren’t sure how the 12-man Army patrol was attacked.

“We need to collect some very basic raw facts,” one Pentagon source told the network.

The attack has sparked criticism on multiple fronts, particularly about the flow of information and how President Trump handled the response.

RELATED: US special forces killed in Niger attack

7 PHOTOS
US soldiers killed in Niger ambush
See Gallery
US soldiers killed in Niger ambush
A combination photo of U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson (L to R), U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, in these handout photos released October 18, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Georgia, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, U.S. on October 5, 2017. Courtesy Aaron J. Jenne/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, poses in a handout photo released October 18, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia

(Photo via U.S. Army)

Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio

(Photo via U.S. Army)

Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington

(Photo via U.S. Army)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Intelligence on the ambush has been hard to come by, however. A defense official told NBC News the confusion has been “tremendous.” The body of one soldier wasn’t recovered for two days.

Sen. John McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, complained he too hasn’t received much information about the attack.

The AFRICOM team has reportedly been tasked with finding out where the soldiers were during the attack, what kind of protective armor they had and what intelligence they were given ahead of time.

An ISIS branch in the Greater Sahara is believed to have carried out the attack.

Although it “has not been claimed by a terrorist group, but a group claiming association with ISIS, ISIS in the Greater Sahara, is likely responsible,” one official told NBC News.

But experts have been mixed on how tied the group is to the Syria-based main terror cell.

The four slain soldiers were part of the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group, which was advising a squad of 30 soldiers from Niger near the country’s border with Mali.

Their deaths have become a political hot point in Washington, with critics bashing Trump for not addressing the attack for 12 days.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) then said Trump had an insensitive phone call with the widow of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, one of the four soldiers killed.

Trump, the lawmaker said, told Johnson’s widow “he knew what he signed up for” and seemingly forgot the sergeant’s name during the call.

The President denied those claims on Wednesday, calling them “fabricated” and he had proof of such. Speaking to reporters later, he declined to indicate what he actually said or what proof he had.

RELATED: A look at US military academies

24 PHOTOS
US military academies
See Gallery
US military academies
A cadet from the United States Military Academy holds a hat before the start of the Army versus Navy NCAA football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL MILITARY EDUCATION)
Midshipmen look to the sky as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform a fly-over to begin the graduation and commencement ceremony for the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The graduating class of second lieutenants arrive at the Air Force Academy's Class of 2012 graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
WEST POINT, NY - MAY 25: 2013 graduating cadets celebrate after graduation at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA) during the 215 commencement ceremony May 25, 2013 in West Point, New York. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered the commencement speech for the class of 2013. Most USMA graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the US Army. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)
Female midshipmen, required to wear trousers instead of skirts for the first time, process onto the field for their graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy stand at attention during formation before the start of the Army versus Navy NCAA football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL MILITARY EDUCATION)
WEST POINT, NY - JUNE 27: New cadets march in a courtyard on campus during Reception Day at the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 27, 2016 in West Point, New York. Reception Day is the day when new cadets report to West Point to begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. Upwards of 1,300 cadet candidates for the class of 2020 will report to West Point on Monday. The new cadets will begin six weeks of basic training before Acceptance Day in early August. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
United States Naval Academy midshipmen salute prior to the Army versus Navy football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 12, 2009. This is the 110th annual meeting between the two teams. REUTERS/Molly Riley (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
WEST POINT, NY - JUNE 27: New cadets take the Oath of Allegiance during Reception Day at the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 27, 2016 in West Point, New York. Reception Day is the day when new cadets report to West Point to begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. Upwards of 1,300 cadet candidates for the class of 2020 will report to West Point on Monday. The new cadets will begin six weeks of basic training before Acceptance Day in early August. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
U.S. Marines take a pledge for their commissioning as officers at the 2009 U.S. Naval Academy graduation in Annapolis, Maryland, May 22, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES POLITICS MILITARY)
A second lieutenant bows his head at his Air Force Academy's Class of 2012 graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY POLITICS)
Graduated midshipmen toss their caps in the air upon the conclusion of the graduation and commissioning ceremonies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis May 22, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES POLITICS MILITARY IMAGES OF THE DAY)
WEST POINT, NY - JUNE 27: Hair is swept up at the barber shop on campus during Reception Day at the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 27, 2016 in West Point, New York. Reception Day is the day when new cadets report to West Point to begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. Upwards of 1,300 cadet candidates for the class of 2020 will report to West Point on Monday. The new cadets will begin six weeks of basic training before Acceptance Day in early August. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Midshipmen look to the sky as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform a fly-over to begin the graduation and commencement ceremony for the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point pack the stands as they attend the Army vs Navy college football game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, December 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
WEST POINT, NY - JUNE 27: New cadets stand in formation during the Oath of Allegiance ceremony during Reception Day at the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 27, 2016 in West Point, New York. Reception Day is the day when new cadets report to West Point to begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. Upwards of 1,300 cadet candidates for the class of 2020 will report to West Point on Monday. The new cadets will begin six weeks of basic training before Acceptance Day in early August. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Cadet candidates for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point class of 2018 take the oath officially making them cadets during Reception Day in West Point, New York July 2, 2014. During Reception Day, the new cadets begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. They undergo administrative processing, fittings for their initial issue of military clothing, receive haircuts, medical and physical evaluations and begin their first lessons in marching, military courtesy and discipline. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION MILITARY SOCIETY)
WEST POINT, NY - MAY 25: 2013 graduating cadets toss their hats after graduation at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA) during the 215 commencement ceremony May 25, 2013 in West Point, New York. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered the commencement speech for the class of 2013. Most USMA graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the US Army. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)
WEST POINT, NY - MAY 25: 2013 graduating cadets celebrate after graduation at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA) during the 215 commencement ceremony May 25, 2013 in West Point, New York. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered the commencement speech for the class of 2013. Most USMA graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the US Army. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)
The Thunderbirds perform a fly-over as graduates from the Air Force Academy toss their hats in the air at the conclusion of their commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Graduates celebrate after shaking hands with U.S. President Barack Obama during the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
Members of the graduating class listen to proceedings during commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama's commencement address was the first in a series of speeches that he and top advisers will use to explain U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a broad vision for the rest of his presidency. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
Underclassmen listen from the back of the stadium as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014. Obama's commencement address here is the first in a series of speeches that he and top advisers will use to explain U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a broad vision for the rest of his presidency. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.