US Mission in Niger That Got Four Killed Wasn’t Authorized

Top commanders weren't told of forces' real mission

The ongoing military probes into October 4’s disastrous US military operation in Niger, in which four US special forces were killed, has concluded something particularly important: that the operation was never properly authorized by top commanders.

The special forces team in question were nominally sent out to meet local Nigerien leaders, for which they were properly equipped and prepared. The team in question never attempted to meet with them, however, and instead went off on a totally separate mission.

The team instead joined a mission hunting for a militant wanted in the kidnapping of an aid worker, doing so without having informed the commanders that’s what they were going to do, meaning it was never authorized.

The operation went poorly, as the chase around the Niger-Mali border led the team right into an ambush of militants, who attacked and killed four US troops, wounding two other US troops and eight Nigeriens.

Officials say there is no single point of failure in the operation, though clearly the fact that commanders weren’t told what the team’s actual mission was didn’t help, and raises further questions about whether the US troops were adequately prepared for such an operation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.