Shanahan says new Niger review will be completed quickly but won’t say when it will be finished

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Rep. Ruben Gallego Demands Answers Regarding Niger Ambush

Once again, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has vowed that a new review he has ordered into the deaths of four soldiers in Niger two years ago will be completed quickly, but he did not give any kind of timeline for how long it will take.

"To the families: I'm not trying to delay a report," Shanahan said when Task & Purpose asked about the review. "When I undertook the role, I wanted time to review the investigation, and really this is just an expedited way for me to make sure I have enough time to understand the reports and the details, so I expect this to go very, very quickly."


Shanahan first told Congress last month that he had ordered a new review into the Oct. 4, 2017 ambush to make sure everyone is held accountable for mistakes leading up to the mission.

"I do not 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," Shanahan told the House Armed Services Committee on March 26.

Shanahan's spokesman Army Lt. Col. Joe Buccino declined to say how quickly the review will be completed, telling Task & Purpose on Monday that the process will last "as long as it takes."

A spokesman for U.S. Africa Command declined to discuss the new review ordered by Shanahan while it is ongoing.

"A complete and extensive understanding of the Niger incident is occurring at the highest level of the Department of Defense," Air Force Col. Christopher Karns said on Monday. "It is important to ensure questions are completely and thoroughly answered, and the matter is handled with respect and consideration to all those involved."

Nearly a year ago, the Pentagon announced that an investigation had found problems with how the Niger mission was planned and executed, but former Defense Secretary James Mattis was reportedly enraged that no senior commanders had been disciplined for their failures.

Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, and Sgt. La David T. Johnson were killed when their convoy was overwhelmed by ISIS fighters. In December, the New York Times reported the head of U.S. Special Operations Command had asked if Wright could be eligible for the Medal of Honor.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) has repeatedly blasted AFRICOM and the Pentagon for not providing the four fallen soldiers' families with more information about the ill-fated mission and how their loved ones died.

"After two years, it's long past time the families of the fallen soldiers get some honest answers and for Acting Secretary Shanahan to comply with Congressional mandates regarding the Niger ambush," Gallego, a Marine veteran, said on Monday. "The details of this incident must be brought to light and corrective action must be taken to ensure that the mistakes that were made are not repeated and that those responsible for them are appropriately disciplined."

SEE ALSO: Army reportedly dishes out delayed punishment to Green Beret over Niger ambush

WATCH NEXT: The Pentagon's Niger Ambush Recreation Video

The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy photo)

Harry L. Chandler knows he's among the last of a vanishing breed.

His fellow members of Massachusetts' Pearl Harbor Attack Veterans Post 1 are now gone. The post had its final meeting in June 2008 at the old Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke, and its state organization disbanded later that same year.

His dear friend Robert A. Greenleaf, of Westfield, who was post commander, died two years ago. "What a loss," reflects Chandler one recent afternoon.

Before and since Greenleaf's passing, most all of the Western Massachusetts veterans who were at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, have died.

Borucki. Woicekoski. Lockhart. Toms. Mieleszko. Grimaldi. Fitzhugh. Kostanski. Stoklosa. And, more.

One by one, the voices of the men, many of whom each year shared recollections of that fateful day that propelled America into World War II, have fallen silent. Charles J. Lockhart, of East Longmeadow, was 95 when he died last Christmas Day. In September, William Kostanski, of Greenfield, died at 101. Only when his family surprised him with a 100th birthday party did Kostanski relent to speak – if only fleetingly – about his experiences at Honolulu's Schofield Barracks all those years ago. For decades, he never spoke about it.

Today, on the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Chandler, who grew up in Holyoke, chooses to look to the future. "What more is there for us to talk about," he asks. His concerns are less about the past and more about today's soldiers and the challenges they face.

"What's going on today is horrendous," he says. "There's so much division in this country. It's terrible. Let's put it this way, we never would have won (World War II) if we had this kind of division."

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Joshua Kaleb Watson has been identified as one of the victims of a shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, CBS News reported.

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The Navy pledged Friday to find ways to upgrade security procedures and prevent future attacks following two shootings and a fatal gate runner incident at naval bases in Virginia, Hawaii and Florida in the last week.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper also announced he is "considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families," although he did not give details.

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