Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Two senior Army officers are reportedly still eligible for promotion after failings found during Niger attack
Two commanders involved with the deadly 2017 Niger ambush are reportedly still eligible for promotion, and the Pentagon has no problem with that.
Four soldiers were killed on Oct. 4, 2017 when their convoy was attacked by more than 100 ISIS fighters near the village of Tongo Tongo: Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, and Sgt. La David T. Johnson.
U.S. Africa Command's investigation into the incident found serious problems with how their team was trained before and after arriving in theater and how the mission was planned. Their commanders also did not adequately work with French and Nigerien forces for casualty evacuation planning prior to the mission, according to a redacted copy of the investigation, which was provided to Task & Purpose.
The mission itself kept changing, and when the team asked to return to base, they were told to continue to their objective even though commanders had not reassessed the risks they faced given that the team had no plan to evacuate wounded under fire; no quick reaction forces were assigned to them; the team had little rest in the past 24 hours; and they would be operating near the border with Mali, the investigation found.
Still, Politico has reported that Col. Brad Moses, who was commander of 3rd Special Forces Group in Africa during the deadly incident, is still eligible for selection to brigadier general, though he has not yet been nominated. Lt. Col. David Painter, who reportedly denied the team's request to return to base, has also been selected to advance to colonel (The Army confirmed to Task & Purpose that Painter is a colonel-select).
Efforts to reach both men for comment on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Defense officials appeared as bewildered as deer caught in headlights when reporters asked them on Wednesday why Moses and Painter were not punished.
"The department is absolutely confident after two investigations and three reviews that accountability has been rendered in this case," said Owen West, assistant secretary of defense for special operations.
A total of nine "disciplinary actions" have been taken as a result of the Niger ambush, said West, who did not name the personnel who were punished administratively. Politico has identified one of the commanders disciplined as Air Force Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, head of Special Operations Command Africa, who is set to retire soon.
Army Gen. Raymond "Tony" Thomas III, former head of U.S. Special Operations Command, found there was "no criminal negligence" committed by anyone involved with the mission, a defense official said.
"There was poor judgment and tactical leadership," the defense official said. "We hold people accountable, but the UCMJ was not the appropriate method for this type of accountability. There's a non-judicial process for holding people accountable"
However, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) slammed the Defense Department on Wednesday for its handling of the Niger ambush aftermath. The Marine veteran accused the Pentagon of putting all the blame for what went wrong on junior officers and enlisted service members.
"Nearly two years later, we are still waiting for answers," Gallego said in a statement. "The Pentagon has refused to comply with the mandate to provide Congress with a comprehensive account of what went wrong and the lessons learned, and to provide the families of those lost with any semblance of closure."One thing is clear: mistakes were made that cost these men's lives," he continued.
"Their families – and the American public – deserve clear answers about what happened, who will be held accountable, and what will be done to prevent this from ever happening again."
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Col. Brad Moses was to be promoted to brigadier general. The story has been updated to reflect that Moses is still eligible for the promotion, but has not yet been nominated.
SEE ALSO: 4 Soldiers Fought To Their Deaths In Niger Ambush, Pentagon Now Says
WATCH NEXT: Defense Officials Brief Press on Niger Investigation Results
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.