Pentagon orders new, limited review of investigation into deadly 2017 Niger attack

Four soldiers were killed in the deadly attack carried out by an ISIS affiliate.

April 04, 2019, 8:40 PM

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has appointed a four-star general to review the investigations into a deadly October 2017 attack in Niger to determine if more disciplinary actions are required, according to the Pentagon.

Four U.S. Army soldiers were killed in the Oct. 4, 2017 ambush, which was carried out by Islamic State-affiliated militants in a remote desert area of the west African country. U.S. Africa Command released an exhaustive U.S. military investigation almost a year ago and found that multiple failures in mission planning and pre-deployment training were to blame the deaths of Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Sgt. La David Johnson.

Since then, follow-up reviews have been criticized for identifying lower-ranking service members for administrative disciplinary action instead of higher ranking officers in the chain of command. Separately the Army has recommended awards of valor for some of the soldiers involved in the incident.

PHOTO: Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command, center, briefs members of the media on a Niger ambush at the Pentagon, May 10, 2018.
Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command, center, briefs members of the media on a Niger ambush at the Pentagon, May 10, 2018.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

During a congressional hearing last week, Shanahan disclosed the existence of a new review.

"When I came into this role, the recommendation was brought to me that Secretary Mattis, had--he had convened a review and that recommendation was brought to me. I did not find that sufficient," Shanahan told the House Armed Services Committee. "So, I convened my own review so I can ensure from top to bottom as to the appropriate accountability. I don’t know when that will be complete, but I have to assume that much of the work that’s been done to date can be used."

In the days since then, Pentagon officials could not provide additional details about the new review that Shanahan had ordered.

On Thursday, Navy Cmdr. Candice Tresch, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed the "new, narrowly scoped review" by the four-star flag officer.

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