- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has accepted the original conclusions of inquiries into the 2017 Niger ambush that killed four American soldiers, and no further punishments will be handed out, according to media reports.

Politico first reported Tuesday night that Mr. Shanahan was putting an end to the latest review of the Niger attack, an incident that roiled lawmakers on Capitol Hill and led critics to claim that the military was allowing senior officers off the hook.

Earlier this year, Mr. Shanahan appointed Army Gen. Robert Brown, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, to take a second look at prior investigations into the attack. Gen. Brown reportedly found that the earlier inquiries — which led to formal punishments for eight members of the military involved in the incident — were sufficient.

Mr. Shanahan reportedly agreed with that decision.

Publicly, the Pentagon remains tight-lipped about the review.

“The department’s primary concern throughout the investigation, report and review process is with the families of fallen members,” Pentagon spokesperson Cdr. Candice Tresch said in a statement. “In deference to these families and our desire to provide face-to-face notifications of any updates regarding findings, awards and accountability, it would be inappropriate to provide additional information until the conclusion of all such notifications.”

Four U.S. Green Berets and four Nigerien soldiers were killed in the Oct. 4, 2017, ambush. The U.S. forces deployed alongside their Nigerien counterparts in pursuit of a militant affiliated with the Islamic State.

Unable to locate the target, the forces began to return to their bases but were ambushed near the village of Tongo Tongo in what appeared to be a pre-planned enemy assault.

The Pentagon’s initial 2017 review found that while the U.S. Special Operations Forces team inside Niger “have the authority to conduct [counterterrorism] operations with partner Nigerien forces, the initial concept of operations (CONOPS) submitted for this mission was not approved at the proper level of command.”

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