Once they did leave, they were ambushed.
Militants attacked the American forces with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns from military vehicles. The soldiers dismounted from their vehicles and began returning fire, but as it became clear they were outnumbered and outgunned, they got back in their trucks and retreated a mile before they were attacked again.
Officials say the Americans were trapped in a kill zone.
US forces waited more than an hour after the ambush to call for help, officials said. When they finally did, a drone was overhead within minutes. French Mirage fighter jets arrived an hour after later and evacuated two injured troops and bodies of Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright.
But the body of Sgt. La David Johnson was not recovered for a further 48 hours. The survivor told ABC that he saw Sgt. Johnson ‘grabbing every weapon available to him to fight’ and that he was ‘a beast’. Officials said that the two separate ambush sites could explain why Sgt. Johnson’s body was found more than a mile from the other dead and injured troops.
It appears that the Green Berets and special forces did not have any drones overhead or surveillance during the meeting in a move which appears to have put themselves at risk in a bid to win the trust of local residents, officials said.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that taking risks was part of the team’s jobs but asked: ‘Are they taking risks that are unreasonable?…I don’t have any reason to believe that,’ NBC reports. When asked why the team didn’t ask for help for an hour into the attack, Gen. Dunford said he thought the special forces may have believed they had things under control.
‘My judgment would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without additional support,‘ Dunford said.
The French fighter planes did not drop bombs because they were not in radio contact with the US troops and did not want to hit them. However, the arrival of the jets did work to scare off the attackers. Following the fatal ambush, a village chief in Tongo Tongo, Mounkaila Alassane, was reportedly arrested.