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US Army punishes 6 over fatal Niger ambush: Report

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – The US Army has punished six members of the armed forces over a botched 2017 mission in Niger that resulted in the deaths of four Americans and four allied Nigerien troops, according to military officials.

The incident happened on October 4 last year when 11 American Special Forces soldiers along with 30 Nigerien troops were ambushed by scores of extremist fighters near the Niger-Mali border.

Captain Mike Perozeni, the leader of the Green Beret team, as well as his second in command, a master sergeant, were disciplined, The New York Times reported Saturday. The army has also disciplined four others in their chain of command.

However, the two senior officers, who approved and oversaw the mission, were not punished, the newspaper added.

A letter of reprimand sent to Perozeni cited lack of training and insufficient mission rehearsals for the mission’s failure.

“As a result of the Niger 15-6 investigation report, Secretary Mattis directed US Africa Command, US Special Operations Command, Department of the Army and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness to conduct a comprehensive review of procedures, policies and training programs and report back to him with a plan of action and corrective measures,” said Commander Candice Tresch, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

“Secretary Mattis received those reports by the 120-day deadline and is conducting a thorough review of the findings.”

According to the Times account, Green Beret unit, Team 3212 based in an outpost in Oullam, was told to capture a militant group leader named Doundoun Cheffou.

Once the location was spotted, an operation was planned against Cheffou’s camp using a helicopter to transport American commandos, Nigerien troops as well as Team 3212.

However, due to bad weather, the helicopter mission was canceled, but Team 3212 proceeded to the now-empty campsite. Upon their return to Oullam, they were ambushed by some 50 heavily armed militants.

The ambush proved to be one of the largest losses of American lives in combat in Africa since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia.

It also raised questions about the presence of the 800 American troops in Niger and the larger purpose of the US military in Africa.

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