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U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Ga.. Photo: Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne / U.S. Air Force via AP

One of the first to arrive on the Niger ambush scene, a Nigerien soldier, as well as a U.S. official "directly familiar" with after-action reports, told CNN that the vehicles in the 12-member Green Beret–led team were separated from each other. Four U.S. service members were killed as a result of the gun battle that followed.

What happened: Per the Nigerien soldier on the scene (although there are still gaps following the classified briefing Pentagon officials provided to lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday):

  • The attackers were equipped with eight vehicles and "dozens" of fighters and hit the first two vehicles and then the convoy split.
  • He said the U.S.–Nigerien unit was a "light force," which he said was not adequately equipped in manpower and firepower for a high-risk area. "I was surprised that the Americans would go out into the zone with such a light convoy and no air cover, no drones to keep watch over them," he told CNN.

How their location may have been blown: An official told NPR villagers participated in a "set up" in which they told ISIS–affiliated troops the location of their patrol.Why it may have taken the soldiers an hour to request support, per Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who briefed reporters Thursday: "It may have been that they assessed that the situation was not significant enough to call for help. It may have been that they were under fire so intense they were unable to get to their communications equipment."

Whether the soldiers were prepared adequately: Similar patrols in the same general area had not encountered any enemy forces over the last 6 months, per McKenzie. He added that the commanders on the ground judged an encounter "unlikely" to happen.

Go deeper

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.