Pentagon appoints four-star officer to do new assessment of 2017 Niger assault that killed 4 troopers
WASHINGTON — Performing Protection Secretary Patrick Shanahan has appointed a four-star officer to take one other have a look at the army’s investigation into the 2017 assault in Niger that killed 4 U.S. troopers, and assessment whether or not extra punishments must be meted out.
In a press release Thursday, the Pentagon stated the investigating officer will do a “new, narrowly-scoped assessment” and provides Shanahan suggestions on whether or not the reprimands already made had been acceptable. The officer’s identify was not launched.
Officers have stated that 9 people have been held accountable for lapses in coaching and different mission preparedness. The punishments have largely been letters of reprimand. However officers and members of Congress have questioned whether or not extra senior officers must be disciplined. Officers spoke on situation of anonymity to debate personnel actions.
The preliminary investigation discovered a number of failures main as much as the October 2017 assault, however decided that none of these shortfalls straight brought on the overwhelming enemy ambush and firefight, which additionally killed 4 Nigerien troops, wounded a lot of forces from each nations, and despatched troops operating for his or her lives.
That investigation report got here out final Could, detailing a collection of “particular person, organizational, and institutional failures and deficiencies that contributed to the tragic occasions.” However it concluded that “no single failure or deficiency was the only purpose” for what occurred.
It stated the U.S. forces did not have time to coach collectively earlier than they deployed, and didn’t do preparatory battle drills with their Nigerien companions. And the report stated lax communication and poor consideration to particulars led to a “common lack of situational consciousness and command oversight at each echelon.”
Since then, administrative actions — primarily the letters of reprimand — had been taken in opposition to 9 people, together with Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, who was serving because the commander of particular operations forces in Africa on the time. He was essentially the most senior officer punished, main some to query whether or not different extra senior leaders had unfairly escaped unscathed.
As well as, a lot of troops, together with these killed, have been really helpful for valor awards, primarily Silver Stars and Bronze Stars. However none of these have been introduced both.
Throughout a Home Armed Providers Committee listening to final week, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., peppered Shanahan with questions in regards to the prolonged delay in any bulletins and when remaining selections can be made.
Shanahan stated he was conscious that his predecessor, Jim Mattis, had obtained remaining suggestions and had been reviewing them. However, Shanahan stated, “I didn’t discover that ample. So, I convened my very own assessment so I can insure from high to backside as the suitable accountability.”
Gallego stated he needed to make sure the Pentagon assessment did not merely place all of the blame on junior officers and let senior officers “off the hook.”
“These households and the American public need to know precisely what occurred, and the junior officers which might be being reprimanded proper now ought to know that there is going to be equal reprimands, particularly for common officers, ought to they’ve carried out something fallacious,” stated Gallego.
Shanahan responded that the basic purpose he’s doing his personal assessment is to make certain there’s a full accounting, from the troops on the bottom to essentially the most senior officer.
The U.S. army in Africa has taken a quantity steps to extend the safety of troops on the bottom, including armed drones and armored automobiles and taking a more durable have a look at when American forces exit with native troops. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, has stated that the U.S. has minimize the response time wanted for medical evacuations.
U.S. Particular Operations Command has made adjustments in pre-deployment and readiness coaching, and addressed different staffing and decision-making shortfalls. The adjustments embrace insuring that forces conduct coaching collectively earlier than they deploy and the workouts should be evaluated by a senior officer.
The assessment discovered that a big personnel turnover after coaching however earlier than deployment led to among the issues with the crew in Niger.
Performing Secretary of Protection Patrick Shanahan testifies earlier than the Home Armed Providers Committee on March 26, 2019, throughout a listening to on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Pentagon introduced on Thursday, April four, that Shanahan has appointed a four-star officer to look into the army’s investigation into the 2017 assault in Niger that killed 4 U.S. troopers.
CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES