WASHINGTON - The Latest on the investigation into a deadly ambush in Niger that killed four Americans (all times local):
Top military leaders acknowledge that multiple failures led up to the deadly Niger attack last October that killed four American service members and sent others fighting and running for their lives.
Still, the military says more important factors were "that the enemy achieved tactical surprise there and our forces were outnumbered approximately three-to-one."
Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr. of U.S. Africa Command spoke to reporters during a Pentagon press conference Thursday.
He described a brutal, chaotic firefight, as 46 U.S. and Nigerien forces battled more than 100 enemy fighters.
Amid the chaos, he says, there were repeated acts of bravery as the outnumbered and outgunned soldiers made split-second decisions under heavy fire, struggling to protect and rescue each other during the more than hourlong assault.
The Pentagon says multiple failures are to blame for the Niger ambush that killed four U.S. service members last October.
A final report released Thursday cites insufficient training and preparation. And it cites the team's deliberate decision to go after a high-level Islamic State group insurgent without proper command approval.
The report summary includes recommendations to improve mission planning and approval procedures, re-evaluate equipment and weapons requirements, and review training that U.S. commandos conduct with partner forces.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has told the head of U.S. Africa Command to take immediate steps to address shortfalls, and has given senior leaders four months to complete a review and lay out a plan for additional changes.
The Pentagon is preparing to release the final report on the Niger attack that killed four Americans last October, concluding that the Army Special Forces team did not get required command approval for the initial risky mission to go after a high-level insurgent linked to the Islamic State group.
Defence officials said they will lay out Thursday how the mission unfolded and led to the gruesome ambush, and then explain what is being done to correct the problems brought to light by the incident. Families of the fallen troops have been briefed on the investigation, including details of their loved ones' final moments as they battled as many as 100 insurgents in a fierce firefight.
"The whole thing was a screwed-up mess," said Arnold Wright, father of Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Georgia, who was killed in the attack. He said he's concerned the Army may be pinning blame on lower-ranking soldiers and not accepting responsibility high enough up the chain of command.
The briefing, he said, gave the impression "that the captain, the team leader, that he mischaracterized the mission" as one to reach out to local leaders rather than a mission to target the insurgent.