WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military officer said Gold Star family members and the American public are owed more information about the deadly ambush in Niger that left four soldiers dead and two wounded, as President Trump kept up a war of words over his call to the family of one of the fallen.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters yesterday that while he wanted to provide a full account of the Oct. 4 attack, it will have to wait until a full investigation is complete and families of the fallen are notified.
“And as soon as we’re done with that we’ll come back in here and we’ll share exactly that same information that we share with the families,” Dunford said.
Dunford did give a general outline of the ambush by about 50 ISIS fighters on U.S. troops on a reconnaissance mission in Niger.
During the protracted firefight, which Dunford described as “heavy,” two wounded soldiers were evacuated.
After the fight ended that evening, the bodies of three servicemen who were killed — Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, Sgt. Bryan C. Black and Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson — were evacuated.
Sgt. La David Johnson’s body was discovered 48 hours later by French officials and then evacuated.
Dunford said there are 800 service members currently in Niger as part of an international counterterrorism effort, part of roughly 6,000 troops stationed across the African continent in an ongoing effort to battle ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and a host of other terror groups.
And while the U.S. and allies have made progress, the fight is far from over, he said.
“We’re at an inflection point in the global campaign, not an end point,” Dunford said.
Earlier, Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, spoke out about the call she received from Trump that spurred a verbal battle between the president and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).
The controversy was sparked when the president erroneously claimed that other presidents didn’t call Gold Star families as he does.
“The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway. And it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and, how he couldn’t remember my husband’s name,” Johnson said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” adding that Trump had to consult a report before naming Sgt. Johnson.
Trump quickly took to Twitter to dispute her account.
“I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” the president tweeted.
Johnson also said she wanted answers about her husband’s death, including why she was not allowed to see his body and why it took two extra days to find him.
Boston Herald /Sahel-Elite