The Pentagon Scapegoated Junior Officers For The Niger Ambush. Then Mattis Got Involved

Bullet Points

The Department of Defense last month did an about-face on the punishments handed down to members of the Green Beret team deemed responsible for the deadly Oct. 4, 2017, ambush in Niger that left four Army Special Forces personnel dead, the New York Times reports, shifting blame from junior officers to more senior commanders following a furious intervention from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.


  • According to the New York Times, a "livid" Mattis chewed out "top military officials" involved in the Niger investigation after purportedly reading news reports regarding letters of reprimand handed down to Capt. Mike Perozeni, the team leader of Operational Detachment Alpha Team 3212 singled out for blame for the ambush.

  • Perozeni, his second-in-command, and four others in the chain of command were punished in line with the long-awaited Pentagon investigation that, released in May, appeared to lay blame at the feet of the junior officers, citing an absence of “key pre-deployment collective training” and “pre-mission rehearsals" as well as a lack of appropriate equipment for such an excursion.
  • But, as the New York Times reported in early November, "those absent from the six letters of reprimand include the two senior officers who approved the mission and who then oversaw the operation as it went fatally awry." This reportedly infuriated a Mattis, who officials described to the Times as "dissatisfied with the punishments given largely to junior officers."
  • Mattis' rage reportedly got results: One senior officer "who had largely escaped punishment was told he would be reprimanded," the New York Times reported. "Another senior officer’s actions before and around the time of the mission were also under new scrutiny. And this week, Capt. Michael Perozeni ... received word from the Army: His reprimand was rescinded."
  • For a blow-by-blow of the post-investigation Niger blame-game, read the full New York Times story here.

SEE ALSO: Senior Army General Reportedly Asked Whether Green Beret Ambushed In Niger Was Eligible For Medal Of Honor

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