Four green beret soldiers were killed in Niger on October 3. The report of this tragedy took lawmakers by surprise as they were unaware that there were 1,000 US troops in Niger at all, much less that the soldiers were able to be ambushed without any help. The Pentagon, however, said that they kept Congress informed of such operations. The fourth soldier. Sgt. La David Johnson was initially unaccounted for but his body was found a few days later and recovered.

Troops in Niger

Former deputy CIA director Mike Morell was on "Face the Nation" last Sunday where he defended the presence of American troops in Niger. He said that for decades, the US provided military support to countries that were under threat by regional terrorist groups.

He said that they were there to prevent the threat from spreading out into the Western world. Regardless of the fact that members of Congress were in the dark about any operations in Niger, they all agree that an American presence there is to fight terrorism and are in agreement with Morrell.

Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council was on "PBS Newshour" a day after the ambush was reported, where he said that American and French forces were in the region to provide training. Here is his interview:

Clarifying Nigerian operation

David Martin, who is a national security correspondent and was also across from Morrell, separated the information that had been circulated as "what we know" and "what really happened." He said that what they knew was that the soldiers were ambushed and killed on a patrol where enemy contact was not expected.

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He referred to the Pentagon as saying that the soldiers had already been on 20 patrols previously where they had not encountered any enemies. It was for this reason that the patrol unit of 12 did not have drones overhead to monitor the area. As Peter Pham mentioned in the "Newshour" interview referred to above, there is a base for drones in Niamey which is the capital of Niger.

But Mr. Martin said that the Pentagon's description of events conflicts with what the United Nations had described. He said that in that part of Niger where the soldiers were ambushed, there had been 46 attacks in the last 20 months. General Joseph Dunford attempted to clarify the details of the ambush on Tuesday, saying that there was a view that the Department of Defense had not been forthcoming. In his statement, he also said that US forces were there with 4,000 French troops to fight terrorism.

Morrell would only say that the CIA does make mistakes but until the results of an investigation come out to say specifically, there is no way of knowing what the problems are.

Mr. Martin then recalled when Gen. Thomas Waldhauser -- who is the commander of Africa Command -- testified before Congress in March. He quoted Waldhauser as saying that he only had one-quarter of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights that he needed out of Africa. Dunford was asked about this again during Tuesday's briefing, where he said that generals know to make use of what they already have. Here is the segment from "Face the Nation" over the weekend: