Army Issues New Reprimand to Leader of Green Beret Team Ambushed in Niger

Army Issues New Reprimand to Leader of Green Beret Team Ambushed in Niger

© Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press Pentagon officials briefing reporters last year on the investigation into the fatal 2017 ambush in Niger.

WASHINGTON — The Army has issued a new reprimand to the leader of the Green Beret team that was ambushed in 2017 in Niger.

Capt. Michael Perozeni was cited in a letter dated Jan. 16 for not performing proper pre-mission training before the mission that led to the ambush, according to military officials.

The reprimand, issued by Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, the head of the Army’s Special Operations Command, will go into Captain Perozeni’s “local” personnel file, meaning it should not follow him throughout his military career.

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Four American soldiers and five Nigerien troops were killed in the Oct. 4, 2017, ambush while searching for a militant linked to the Islamic State.

Captain Perozeni was reprimanded earlier, in October, for failing to ensure his team was adequately trained before working with the Nigerien troops.

But the Pentagon rescinded that admonishment, which was issued by Maj. Gen. Edwin J. Deedrick Jr., the commanding officer of the First Special Forces Command. Jim Mattis, the defense secretary at the time, chided top military officials for improperly focusing on junior officers’ roles in the botched mission, rather than those of more senior officers.

Captain Perozeni had told his commanders that the team of Green Berets did not have the necessary equipment or intelligence for an unplanned raid on a local militant during the mission, and had asked to return to base.

Instead, Lt. Col. David Painter, a battalion commander based in Chad, ordered Captain Perozeni’s team to continue. It did, and was attacked by dozens of militants linked to the Islamic State.

Colonel Painter and his top enlisted soldier, who is now the command sergeant major of the 3rd Special Forces Group, were also reprimanded last month. As a result, Colonel Painter, who was punished for improperly overseeing predeployment training, will step down from commanding an adviser battalion that is slated to deploy to Afghanistan in coming weeks.

The Special Operations Command declined to comment and referred questions to the Pentagon. Colonel Painter’s reprimand was first reported by Politico.

Some Special Forces officers have privately said the Army has done little to reform personnel policies, unrealistic predeployment training requirements and deployment timelines since the 2017 ambush.

Captain Perozeni was put in command of the Green Beret unit — Team 3212 — just weeks before it deployed to Niger.

Senior military officials, including acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command, are expected to consult on Friday about a congressional report that is due Wednesday and will outline the lessons learned by Army Special Forces from the ambush.

Eight people have been punished as a result of the ambush, including Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, the head of Special Operations forces in Africa.

Col. Bradley D. Moses, then the commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group, is the only person in the Special Operations chain of command involved in the ambush that remains unpunished.

Colonel Moses is currently the chief of staff of Army Special Operations Command, and according to a defense official, he is slated to be promoted to brigadier general.

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