Only On 9: Rep. Russell Tours Africa After Soldiers' Deaths
OKLAHOMA CITY - Congressman Steve Russell has returned from a trip to Africa as part of an investigation into the deaths of American soldiers in Niger.
Russell was the only member of Congress to go on this trip and he spoke with News 9 about what he learned while he was there.
Several American soldiers were killed in an ambush last fall in the sub-Saharan country of Niger.
Since then, an investigation has been launched to learn how the patrol unit ended up in a fire fight with an ISIS-connected cell and why one of the soldier's bodies was left behind forcing another unit to find him days later.
Russell visited the base those soldiers were station on as well as some remote outposts in the area. He did not get to visit the actual site of the ambush.
A report from the New York Times alleges the group of both American and Nigerian soldiers was re-tasked to go after the terror cell despite not having proper weapons or body armor.
Russell told News 9 he had issues with that report.
Russell also said he was stunned by comment from lawmakers like Senator Lindsey Graham who didn't know how many troops were fighting in the region.
"People were shocked by saying, 'Well, I didn't know we had troops in Africa,' which I just found absurd that any member of Congress engaged in national defense could make such a statement. We've been there for decades," Russell said.