USA: Pentagon confirms Niger attack, places number of US soldiers in Afghanistan at 11,000

Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, US Director of the joint staff (English): «No, we're there on a — on a security assistance advise mission. This was a — and I don't have any further particular operational detail on this, but it's a pretty broad mission with the government of Niger in order to increase their capability to stand alone and to prosecute violent extremists in the region.» Journalist... Еще (English): «When they were ambushed, did the opposing force know these were American forces?» Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, US Director of the joint staff (English): «I don't know that they were ambushed. I don't know that we are prepared to characterise this. There was an engagement, I think we're still gathering information on that.» Journalist (English): «But just one real quick follow-up, did they know that they were Americans?» Dana White, chief US Defence Department spokesperson (English): «We are not prepared to tell any more details — Ryan.» Journalist (English): «I just wanted to follow-up quickly on Niger. What kind of risks do the some 800 U.S. forces in Niger right now — I mean, advise, I know it's an advise and assist mission, but what kind of risk, what kind of environment? Is this considered a combat environment?» Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, US Director of the joint staff (English): «I think clearly there's risk for our forces in Niger. Anytime we deploy full forces globally, we will look very hard at the enablers that need to be in place in order to provide security for them. And that ranges from the ability to pull them out if they're injured, to the ability to reinforce them at the point of — at the point of a fight if they — if they need reinforcement. We look at all those things, and evaluate on a continual basis. I'm not gonna go in any further detail on what's actually happening inside Niger, because we have ongoing partner operations occurring now.» *MULTIPLE SHOTS AT SOURCE* US Chief Defence Department spokesperson Dana White, and director of the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. confirmed that three soldiers have been killed during an ambush in Niger, when speaking at a press conference in the Pentagon, Washington DC, on Thursday. «Last night, three U.S. service members and one partner nation member were killed; two U.S. service members were injured while conducting an advise and assist mission in Niger security forces in southwest Niger,» White stated. McKenzie Jr. was questioned on the details of the attack, which lead the death of three US servicemen, with one journalist asking whether the situation in Niger is currently considered a «combat» environment. The director of joint staff replied that «clearly there's risk for our forces in Niger» but that due to «ongoing partner operations occurring now», he was unable to disclose further information. McKenzie also confirmed that only 11,000 soldiers are now based in Afghanistan due to troops being withdrawn in order to assist with Hurricane relief in the US.

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