Shanahan closes review of Niger ambush that killed four US soldiers

The Pentagon has concluded its investigation into the October 2017 Niger ambush that left four American soldiers and four Nigerien partner forces dead.

Punishments already handed out to junior officers will stand, despite the desire from some family members of the fallen to see more senior leaders held accountable.

The decision is also concerning to some experts and lawmakers who view the failures that led to the ambush as widespread across the chain of command, and not localized within the single ill-fated team from 3rd Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“I am satisfied that all findings, awards, and accountability actions were thorough and appropriate,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement accompanying the released investigation, which was posted by the Pentagon early Thursday morning.

In the release, many names for specific actions are redacted, such as an exchange in which the captain from the ambushed Green Beret unit, known as Team OUALLAM, asked the battalion commander in Chad whether they could return to base after the helicopter assault force they were supporting unexpectedly pulled out of the capture or kill mission they were pursuing.

The Chad-based commander told the team to continue and they were ultimately ambushed by a large force of ISIS-linked militants.

The investigation assessed multiple points of failure during the mission, “including the nearly 24-hours with little rest, no quick reaction forces assigned, an execution timeline that would put the team near the Mali border approaching daylight hours, no [casualty evacuation] plan, and an ISR platform without sufficient fuel to cover Team OUALLAM’s return to base.”

Family members of some of the soldiers killed in the ambush reacted angrily Wednesday after being handed the new report by Army officers and learning that no further disciplinary action would occur, ABC News reported.

An earlier investigation by Africa Command led to reprimands being issued for some junior soldiers involved in the mission, along with the senior commander for special operations advisory teams in Africa at the time, Air Force Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks.

Capt. Michael Perozeni, the leader of the Green Beret team that was ambushed, successfully appealed his punishments, according to the New York Times.