I watched this documentary last night on Hulu, 3212 UN-REDACTED time well spent.I remember the news when it broke and admittedly didn’t pay much attrition to it when it came out. I do remember thinking it was odd though, somethings not right.
Here’s the trailer, TRAILER: 3212 UN-REDACTED
Articles from oldest to most recent.
WASHINGTON — A military investigation into the Niger attack that killed four American service members concludes the team didn’t get required senior command approval for their risky mission to capture a high-level Islamic State militant, several U.S. officials familiar with the report said. It doesn’t point to that failure as a cause of the deadly ambush.
Initial information suggested the Army Special Forces team set out on its October mission to meet local Nigerien leaders, only to be redirected to assist a second unit hunting for Doundou Chefou, a militant suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American aid worker.
Officials say it now appears the team went after Chefou from the onset, without outlining that intent to higher-level commanders.
As a result, commanders couldn’t accurately assess the mission’s risk, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the results of the investigation before they’re publicly released.
The finding will likely increase scrutiny on U.S. military activity in Africa, particularly the role of special operations forces who’ve been advising and working with local troops on the continent for years.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is accusing the military of hiding from Congress its true mission in a Niger ambush last October that ended in the deaths of four American Green Berets.
Following a classified briefing from senior Defense Department officials to the Senate Armed Services Committee, senators confirmed the fatal mission had been to “capture-or-kill” a target and not simply a training activity with local forces.
“That was a very explosive briefing,” said Kaine, D-Va. “I have deep questions on whether the military is following instructions and limitations that Congress has laid down about the mission of these troops in Africa, and I’ve had those questions, and I think this hearing raised a lot more in a pretty explosive way.”
As enemy forces closed in, the team commander made a string of split-second decisions to have the 11 U.S. forces and approximately 30 Nigerien forces get back in their vehicles and pull back to avoid being flanked.
But the vehicles ultimately lost contact with each other and did not immediately have visibility on the forces left behind.
These details of the soldier’s final moments, along with those of Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Dustin Wright, were revealed Thursday as the Pentagon released to the media the military’s extensive review of that Oct. 4 ambush.
In the months since the ambush, U.S. Africa Command has conducted an extensive investigation to answer other questions that have haunted the soldiers’ families and riled Congress: What were those service members doing there, and why didn’t they have better support?
The Army is awarding nine valor medals to honor the actions of those involved in the October 2017 Niger ambush, including four Silver Stars and several Bronze Stars with Valor.
Two of the Silver Stars will be posthumously awarded to Green Beret Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson. Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah W. Johnson and Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black will posthumously be awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.
The special operations joint team, known as Team Ouallam, was ordered to continue a raid on a local ISIS commander against the better judgment of the commander on the ground after the helicopter-borne assault team they were supporting backed out due to weather issues.
Team Ouallam continued the mission and was subsequently ambushed by an assaulting force three times their size and equipped with medium and heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and mortars.
ABC News’ investigative journalist James Gordon Meek remembers reporting on the ambush of Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 3212, an Army Special Forces team, in Tongo Tongo, Niger, on Oct. 4, 2017. Four soldiers — Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgts. Bryan Black and Dustin Wright, and Sgt. LaDavid Johnson — were killed, and seven others were temporarily stranded with no reinforcements, until French forces evacuated them.
But although Meek was already confused over inconsistencies reported by the Army regarding the incident, the idea to start investigating didn’t come to fruition until he received a phone call from his high school English teacher Dave Sharrett.
Army Private First Class Dave Sharrett II, Sharrett’s son, had been killed in Balad, Iraq in 2008. The Army originally told the Sharrett family their son had been killed by insurgents, but after Meek investigated on their behalf, it was revealed that Sharrett II had been shot by his own lieutenant, then 1st Lt. Timothy Hanson.
Wright was initially recommended for the Medal of Honor in August 2018. But Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, who led Special Operations Command-Africa at the time, downgraded the recommended decoration to a Distinguished Service Cross in September of that year, according to award approval records Meek shared with Army Times.
Raymond Thomas III, the Army general helming SOCOM at the time, then downgraded the award again to a Silver Star in December 2018, the records showed.
The leader of the Green Beret team on the ground, Capt. Michael Perozeni, was also initially recommended for a Bronze Star with Valor. That was downgraded to an Army Commendation Medal by Thomas in early 2019.
The new footage, as well as the scrutiny placed on the military’s inquiry into the mission, offers an opportunity for the awards and the investigation to be reevaluated, according to Gannon and Criscio.
“I plan to talk to my senators and my congressman and I plan to reach out to the Senate [armed services committee],” Criscio said. “So whether [military leaders] do it or not, I know that I and Debbie are going to push for it.”
UPDATED, with comment from the Defense Department: When ABC News producer and investigative reporter James Gordon Meek first heard about the deadly terrorist ambush of a U.S. Special Forces team in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017, he said that he and others at the network quickly were met with the Pentagon’s shifting version of events.
“When this happened, we could not get two people to tell us the same story,” Meek told Deadline. “We couldn’t even get people to tell us whether there were 10 or 11 Americans that were ambushed or there were 50.”
As they pursued the story and interviewed family members of the fallen soldiers, they eventually saw a much larger project beyond breaking news updates or a more in-depth news magazine piece. Instead, they created a feature-length documentary, 3212 Un-Redacted, debuting on Hulu on Thursday, Veteran’s Day.
“Oct. 6, 2017 was a day I think I went insane,” Cowanda told us.
Had Sgt. LaDavid Johnson truly been captured after the Oct. 4 ambush? The military would later say that he had not. But that hardly satisfied a family left reeling by grief, doubt and a string of inconsistent information from the Army.
The mystery of that Army phone call stating that LaDavid Johnson had been captured by ISIS — which our investigation ultimately determined was based on an uncorroborated intelligence report quickly knocked down at the time by military intelligence officers in Niger — is one of the earliest examples of conflicting and false statements by U.S. military leaders given to the families of the four fallen soldiers of Operational Detachment-Alpha 3212, which are scrutinized in the ABC documentary streaming on Hulu beginning Nov. 11.
Despite a public pledge in late 2017 by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford to “go to every last length to provide the families with accurate information,” the Johnsons told us they felt the exact opposite happened.
In fact, so did the families of the other three other fallen soldiers: Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Bryan Black.
So, any comments, thoughts?
God bless America and you!