Shanahan Accepts Findings in 2017 Niger Ambush of US Forces

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has formally accepted the findings of an investigation into an ambush of U.S. Special Forces mission in Niger nearly two years ago that led to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien soldiers.

In a statement released early Thursday, Acting Secretary Shanahan said he was satisfied that “all findings, awards and accountability actions were thorough and appropriate” after reviewing the findings of the probe into the Oct. 4, 2017, ambush near the village of Tongo Tongo, about 200 kilometers north of the Nigerien capital of Niamey.

The final report, which was released back in May 2018, found the mission was plagued by problems throughout the chain of command, including a lack of training and proper equipment, along with a lack of preparation for the mission, when 46 U.S. and Nigerien troops set out to pursue a high-level Islamic State militant.

But the probe concluded that the joint U.S.-Nigerien forces were ultimately defeated by a large IS force that had outnumbered them 3 to 1. The siege ended after two French warplanes conducted several low flybys to scare off the IS-linked fighters, allowing rescue teams time to move in and evacuate the remaining U.S.-Nigerien forces.

Shanahan said the Pentagon’s primary concern during the investigation “has been for the families of the fallen.” He said the department has taken “corrective action” in such areas as training, risk management, field discipline and leadership.

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