Melgar, DeDolph, another SEAL, Adam Mathews, and two Special Forces from the United States Marine Corps Raider force, had been sent on a secret mission to Mali, where they were to provide assistance to French and Mali forces, fighting Muslim extremists.
Melgar found his colleagues embezzling funds that were supposed to pay local informants, bringing prostitutes into their shared barracks, and drinking, on duty. Melgar reported the abuses he saw his colleagues committing. In response DeDolph and the other men planned to ambush him, and assault him. They would later claim they were not planning to kill Melgar, but a chokehold a drunken DeDolph applied did kill him.
DeDolph and the other three men lied to investigators, claiming Melgar died during routine "roughhousing", and that he was drunk, at the time. Melgar's autopsy took three months, and it was only when it was completed that DeDolph was placed on administrative duties.