June 6 (UPI) -- No further disciplinary action will be taken against soldiers in response to ambushes in Niger two years ago that killed four Green Berets, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Thursday.
Several military officials have already been reprimanded for the Oct. 4, 2017, incidents in which fighters linked to the Islamic State attacked U.S. and Nigerien forces with machine gun and small arms fire. Four Nigerien soldiers died in the attack.
An initial Defense Department investigation cited organizational failures and a lack of proper training for that particular combat situation. Several junior and mid-grade officers and enlisted personnel were punished.
"After this review of the investigation by [Army] Gen. Robert Brown, the acting secretary of defense was satisfied that appropriate individual accountability measures and organizational improvements were in place," Assistant Defense Secretary Owen West said. "The department is absolutely confident after two investigations and three reviews that accountability has been rendered in this case."
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., criticized Shanahan's decision to punish junior officers and enlisted personnel.
"From the beginning, the investigation into what happened that day has been poorly handled at all levels," said Gallego, a member of the House armed services committee. "Nearly two years later, we are still waiting for answers."
Shanahan said the men who were attacked fought "valiantly" against "a numerically superior heavily armed force."
The Pentagon also said nine valor medals for heroic actions will be given in connection to the attack. The families of the four soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group killed in the incident will receive the awards.