Repercussions from 2017 Niger ambush continue to roil Pentagon

Repercussions from 2017 Niger ambush continue to roil Pentagon

Nigerien civilians showcase traditional outfits during a show of culture in Agadez, Niger. Agadez was one of the locations for Flintlock 2018, an annual, African-led, integrated military and law enforcement exercise. (MC3 Evan Parker/U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — The investigation into a deadly 2017 ambush in Niger continues to impact Army operations in Africa and now in Afghanistan.

According to published reports in the New York Times and Politico, the Army has again reprimanded Capt. Michael Perozeni, who led the Green Beret troops that was ambushed.

Four U.S and five Nigerien troops were killed and two other U.S. soldiers wounded in the Oct. 4, 2017, ambush.

An eight-page unclassified report on the ambush released last spring said the deadly day was “the compounding impact of tactical and operational decisions” for the fatal ambush and “no single failure or deficiency.” It also said that false paperwork was filed to achieve approval of the mission.

Perozeni had told military investigators the Green Berets did not have the proper equipment or intelligence to shift from the approved mission for a raid on a local militant. It was on the unsuccessful search for that individual that set the tools up for the ambush.

Perozeni had been reprimanded last October, charged with not properly preparing and training the Green Berets to mesh with Niger forces. But that punishment was struck down by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis — who ordered a second round of investigations into what led to the ambush.

Some of those investigations remain ongoing, Pentagon officials said Thursday and Friday.

The second reprimand was issued in a letter dated Jan. 16, 2019. In it, Perozeni was charged “for not performing proper pre-mission training before the mission that led to the ambush,” the Times reported.

“The reprimand, issued by Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, the head of the Army’s Special Operations Command, will go into Captain Perozeni’s “local” personnel file, meaning it should not follow him throughout his military career,” the Times reported.

Others who have received reprimands include Lt. Col. David Painter, a battalion commander based in Chad. He ordered the Green Berets to pursue the militant leader.

That reprimand led to Painter being removed from commanding an adviser battalion set to deploy to Afghanistan, Politico reported.

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