James Mattis

Pentagon defends U.S. troops who searched for slain soldier missing in Niger

Pentagon defends U.S. troops who searched for slain soldier missing in Niger

Senior U.S. defense officials defended Thursday the small team of American troops targeted in a deadly ambush earlier this month in Africa, an incident that has raised questions about why one fallen soldier was not recovered for two days.

The Oct. 4 operation in Niger, now under U.S. military investigation, resulted in the deaths of four Special Forces soldiers. One was Sgt. La David Johnson, whose remains were not located until sometime Oct. 6.

It's highly unusual for that much time to pass before a fallen soldier is recovered. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis suggested there were extenuating circumstances at play.

"The U.S. military does not leave its troops behind,...

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