President Donald J. Trump took 12 entire days before publicly speaking out about the deadliest combat incident since he became Commander and Chief. Why? The answer has everything to do with “BLAME” and “POLICY”. Four brave young soldiers, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Sgt. La David Johnson, were in Niger when terrorist forces fatally ambushed them. This all started back in September when the Trump administration without explanation decided to add the country of Chad to the President’s travel ban. This move was met with criticism from both sides of the political aisle but eventually was drowned out by the chaotic media frenzy that frequently accompanies Trump and his antics.
Chad has been a longtime strategic partner with American and French forces in the region collectively battling jihadist. The executive order was a shock to the leaders of Chad who had been protecting region allies through combat operations, ground mobility and intelligence. Chad is an anti-jihadist nation but was placed on this travel ban inexplicably. Their neighbors, Nigeria, Niger, and Mali were not. None of this made sense to the Chad military, diplomats or citizens. Needless to say, when Trump did not correct this disastrous executive order, Chad officials were highly offended. Statements from the Chad government spoke directly to how Trump undermined the relationship between the two countries. Barely a week after Trump announced the final version of the travel ban, the Chadian government immediately began removing troops from Niger. Hundreds of soldiers with superior knowledge of the region, combat training and common goals to combat terrorism were gone. Leaving our limited American forces to fend for themselves covering a region roughly the size of Texas.
Due to Chad removing themselves from the combat zone, these courageous American soldiers became outmanned and outgunned in enemy territory. Additional US troops were not deployed to make up the man power deficit. Chad made a clear statement; they were not going to continue having their soldiers fight alongside American troops while Trump pushed divisive policies against them. Virtually just days after Chad forces left, American soldiers were ambushed by terrorist fighters. These extremists were well aware of the logistical situation on the ground and took full advantage of it. Resulting in the death of four valiant soldiers. It’s clear this tragedy could have been avoided with thoughtful policies and an inclusive approach to international conflict.
After 12 days and amidst media pressure, Trump finally spoke about the tragedy publicly. He knew his careless executive order created a chain of events that ultimately led to the death of Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Sgt. La David Johnson. Simply put, Trump wanted to avoid blame. His policy created the circumstances that led to the death of these soldiers. This was one of the most avoidable combat tragedies in recent history. Trump attempted to distract the American public with tweets, sensational comments and taunts. Even his fellow Republican, Senator John McCain went on record and said he believed the Trump administration wasn’t being forthcoming about the death of these men. Now we know why.
-Dr. Rashad Richey