Sgt. La David Johnson was found nearly a mile away from the central scene of the ambush in Niger that killed four US soldiers — including Johnson — and wounded two others, four administration officials familiar with the early assessment of what happened told CNN on Friday.
Officials who have spoken to CNN have cautioned that as the investigation continues, new information is likely to emerge and their understanding of what happened could change.
The Pentagon is still looking at the exact circumstances of how and when Johnson became separated from the 12-member team as they were ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters but is emphasizing that the search for Johnson began immediately and dozens of US forces were quickly moved to Niger’s capital Niamey to be ready to go into the field, which some did.
Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie told reporters on Thursday that US, French and Nigerien forces “never left the battlefield” until Johnson was found.