White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly responded to questions from reporters on Thursday about why United States Special Forces soldiers were in Niger, where a team was ambushed and four soldiers killed by enemy combatants.
He explained that special forces were operating in Niger and all over the world, training and advising the local populace about how to fight terrorists.
“At the end of the day, they’re helping those partners be better at fighting ISIS in North Africa to protect our country so that we don’t have to send large numbers of troops,” Kelly told reporters during the White House press briefing.
He indicated that the current military tactics of training and advising local fighters prevented local communities from falling into the hands of terrorists — forcing the United States to send even more troops into the field.
Special forces troops, he noted, were all around the world, especially in places like Latin America, where they worked with partners to combat drug trafficking.
Kelly confirmed that his own son, a Marine, was currently overseas in Iraq.
“I mean, what the hell is my son doing back in the fight?” he said. “He’s back in the fight because [he is] working with Iraqi soldiers, who are infinitely better than they were years ago, to take ISIS on directly so that we don’t have to do it.”
Kelly confirmed that an investigation of the attack was underway to discover exactly what happened in the ambush and why.
“I actually know a lot more than I’m letting on — but I’m not going to tell you,” he told reporters.