Family of soldier killed in Niger wants to know if 'mistakes were made'

The brother of Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, one of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month, said he wants to know if the military may have made mistakes that ultimately led to his brother's death.

"Even with adequate resources, a fully manned team and armored vehicles, these brave men would have been lucky to exit this situation with their lives," Will Wright said in a statement released on Tuesday. "Our hope through this tragedy is to discern where, if any, mistakes were made and to fix them going forward."

The statement came just hours after the Defense Department, which is investigating the Oct. 4 attack, provided the first official timeline of the events that led up to the ambush.

Wright, 29, and three other U.S. soldiers -- Sgt. La David Johnson, 25; Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35 and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson 39 -- were killed after their unit came in contact with a larger unit of local tribal fighters associated with ISIS, according the department.

Five Nigerien partner troops were also killed in the confrontation, the department said.

In a Monday briefing, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he still had major questions about the "tough firefight," such as whether the unit's mission changed at the last minute and if the troops had adequate intelligence, equipment and training.

"We owe you more information; more importantly, we owe the families of the fallen more information, and that's what the investigation is designed to identify,"" Dunford said. "Did the mission change? It's a fair question."

Wright's family said it is aware of the DoD's ongoing investigation and "anxiously anticipated the release of more information regarding the attack."

"We will wait patiently and work with our government and military, not against them, to find answers," Will Wright said, speaking on behalf of his family. "In short, nothing that comes from this report will bring our Warriors back, but it can help to educate and prepare future Operators to better combat our enemies."

"We do not blame the Army or the President; war is hell, and even the best laid plans go to the wayside when the first bullet flies," he added.

Wright family's full statement:

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the ambush that claimed the lives of my brother, SSG Dustin Michael Wright, and his Warrior Brethren, as well as the subsequent debate that followed.

We are aware of the ongoing investigation and anxiously anticipated the release of more information regarding the attack. We are aware that these investigations take time; we accept this. Any rush to conclude the investigation in the hopes of quieting media demands will only lead to errors and rushes to judgement that will serve to confuse this complex issue even more. We will wait patiently and work with our government and military, not against them, to find answers. In short, nothing that comes from this report will bring our Warriors back, but it can help to educate and prepare future Operators to better combat our enemies.
Our hope through this tragedy is to discern where, if any, mistakes were made and to fix them going forward. As a family with a rich military history, we stand firm behind the belief that if we are to send our sons and daughters into harms way, we should do so while giving them every resource available to defeat our enemies. For our military capabilities to be limited by a "Status of Forces Agreement" or any other Political/Diplomatic instrument, and to place our warriors at a perilous disadvantage, is unacceptable. It is time for our leaders to take a stand for the Americans that stand for us: fully commit to a mission, accept nothing short of the same from our partners and allow no limitations on the resources our warriors have at their disposal (and impress that point upon our partner nations), or don't send our sons to die.

As the greatest fighting force on earth, our strongest resource is our people. We owe these brave men and women nothing short of our full support. As a nation we can not be so easily divided by political talking points or media outlets with an agenda. We, as Americans, are better than the petty squabbling that has replaced the true issue at hand. Our Warriors were slain in battle and their families, and the families of those who continue to fight, need our support. We must unite to honor the Fallen, serve the Living and commit to the Warriors still in the fight, regardless of political party or socioeconomic status.

I would like to close by saying: We do not blame the Army or the President; war is hell, and even the best laid plans go to the wayside when the first bullet flies. Even with adequate resources, a fully manned team and armored vehicles, these brave men would have been lucky to exit this situation with their lives. We know Dustin was born for that moment, to sacrifice his life so others may live and that every ounce of his being was spent on that battlefield, fighting for the brothers to his left and right. We are honored to call him our own, and honored to share him with this great nation and his Warrior Brethren. We pray for peace and for the families that share our loss. We pray that our nation would honor these men and strive to be worthy of their sacrifice. We pray that we unite and continuing the fight for those who needs us most: the families of the Fallen and those still fighting around the world for our freedoms.

-Will Wright

ABC News' Lisa Sivertsen contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
abc newsnational
(Copyright ©2017 ABC News Internet Ventures.)

Load Comments