The incident in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017, that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. soldiers and wounding of two more have resulted in changes and adjustments to how U.S. forces are employed in Africa, the commander of U.S. Africa Command said.
Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser briefed the Pentagon press corps on the incident and spoke specifically about how the lessons learned have led to changes throughout the command. “I will ensure that lessons learned [from the incident] are communicated to all levels within Africom as well as within the component commands, and integrate these changes into our daily operational activities,” the general said.
Army Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier, Africom’s chief of staff and the investigating officer, and Robert S. Karem, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, also spoke about the incident and the subsequent investigation, known as a 15-6 for the Army regulation that governs such incident reviews.
The process is designed to gain understanding of what happened via interviews with all available witnesses, imagery, reports, physical presence at the scene of the events and much more. Each service and the Defense Department has a similar process to get at the truth and to make recommendations.
Waldhauser noted that the command did not wait until the 15-6 investigation was concluded to make changes. Soon after the incident he made changes to mitigate risk and improve readiness for American forces in Africa.
Some examples include requiring U.S. service members operating in Africom to understand the intent and guiding principles of the strategic approach when working with allies and partners. “The fundamental principles of this framework are critical to an enabling approach to security assistance,” the general said.