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Shanahan says new Niger review will be completed quickly but won’t say when it will be finished
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."
WATCH NEXT: The Pentagon's Niger Ambush Recreation Video
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
An F-15 is rocking a WWII paint job to honor a B-17 pilot who gave his life to save a wounded crewman
An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.
A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.
After 70 years, service members are finally filing medical malpractice claims against the US military
Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.
Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.
It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.
Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.
A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.
Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.
With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.