On the morning of October 4, USA and Nigerian forces began moving back south en route to their operating base and the patrol came under attack from about 50 enemy combatants using small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and technical vehicles, Dunford said. Gen. Dunford testified alongside Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis about the U.S. Defense strategy in South Asia.
A 12-man American team left the Nigerien capital of Niamey on October 3 with reconnaissance mission orders and spent the night off base, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford revealed in a briefing with Pentagon reporters Monday. The team came under fire mid-morning of October 4 by approximately 50 ISIS militants with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
"The majority of our operations in Africa are created to support the training, advising and assisting of the local African partners", Dunford said. Within minutes, a remotely piloted aircraft, he said, appeared overhead and within an hour french jets arrived.
During the hours-long engagement Sgt.
He said details of the attack that left four U.S. soldiers and wounded two are still unclear. Five Nigerien security forces were also killed during the operation. U.S., French, and Nigerien forces remained in the mission area for almost 48 hours before Johnson's body was found on Oct 6 by Nigerien forces.
Dunford could not reveal whether US soldiers acted outside of their mission parameters, as some Nigerien security officials suggested to The New York Times Monday.
"We mitigate the risk to the USA forces with specific guidance that we will only accompany those (local) forces when the prospects of enemy contact is unlikely".
One element the Pentagon plans to investigate, Dunford explained, was whether the mission changed and if the joint U.S.
The ISIS affiliate is known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and are led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi.
Dunford said an investigation is underway into what happened.