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The US is offering a ton of cash for help hunting down those responsible for the 2017 Niger attack
Exactly two years after four Army special forces soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger, the U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information that would help it arrest anyone who helped plan or carry out the ambush.
In a press release on Friday, the State Department said it is also offering a separate reward of up to $5 million for information that would help it track down Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), which claimed responsibility for the ambush.
According to the press release, the funding is offered through the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program, a 35-year-old program which has paid more than $150 million to more than 100 people "who provided actionable information that helped bring terrorists to justice or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide."
The ambush occurred near the village of Tongo Tongo, in the desert of southwestern Niger. The four slain soldiers, Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, and Sgt. La David T. Johnson, were part of a group of U.S. and Nigerien forces that set out in unarmored vehicles for a reconnaissance mission that morphed into a disastrous attempt to capture a terrorist. Five Nigerien soldiers were also killed in the attack.
The ambush kicked off an investigation into Army leadership decisions preceding the ambush. Investigators found a series of errors leading up to the mission, such as mischaracterizing the U.S. troops' initial mission as civil-military reconnaissance.
However, the review did not recommend for any high-level commanders to be punished.
The announcement comes the same day the company commander of the ambushed soldiers wrote an op-ed in The New York Times saying the Army botched its investigation of the ambush and failed to hold its senior leaders accountable.
The commander, former Army Maj. Alan Van Saun, said he received an unwarranted reprimand from the Army after the ambush. The reprimand effectively ended his career, he said.
"[W]hile subsequent reviews of the investigation offered yet another chance to hold people responsible, those opportunities fled quickly, leaving the chain of command, in which I had entrusted so much, unaccountable for decisions they made in my absence, but for which I was left responsible," Van Saun wrote.
It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.
It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.
"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.
ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.
That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.
"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.
"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."
The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.
On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.