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Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, briefed reporters Monday on the operation in Niger, West Africa that resulted in the deaths of four US special forces troops.

Dunford acknowledged that there was "a perception that the Department of Defense has not been forthcoming," about the mission:

"We owe the families as much information as we can find out about what happened, and we owe the American people an explanation of... what the mission is and what they're trying to accomplish while they're there," he said.

Why they're there: 800 US service members, along with French troops, are training and assisting local forces fighting ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram-affiliated fighters. More broadly in Africa, about 6,000 forces are in 53 African countries.

The mission: 12 US special operations forces accompanied by 30 Nigerien troops departed Oct. 3 on a reconnaissance mission from the capital to an outlying village. Initial intelligence was that enemy contact was "unlikely." They left Oct. 4 to return to their operating base, and after leaving the village came under fire from about 50 local tribal fighters affiliated with ISIS and armed with rockets, machine guns and small arms.

The firefight: Dunford said his assumption is that the troops originally thought they could handle the resistance, and didn't call for support for an hour. An hour after that (two hours after the fighting began) French aircraft arrived on the scene.

The casualties: Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed. Sgt. La David Johnson was reported missing, and troops stayed in the area until his body was recovered on Oct. 6.

The remaining questions: Dunford said the Pentagon is investigating several elements:

  • Did the mission change during the operation?
  • Did they have sufficient intelligence, equipment and training?
  • Was the pre-mission assessment of the threat accurate?
  • How did Sgt. Johnson become separated?
  • Why did it take so long to recover his body?

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Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

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  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."

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