WASHINGTON — The White House has yet to approve a Pentagon request to provide imminent-danger pay to American troops assigned to Niger, a top military commander said on Tuesday, raising new questions about the support given to service members who are sent to West Africa to help in the fight against terrorist groups.
Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser told House lawmakers that the United States Africa Command, which he heads, had some time ago “submitted a packet for Niger to qualify” for the additional pay in combat zones. He said the decision rested with the White House Office of Management and Budget, adding that “it’s at the national level now for final approval.”
Representative Joe Courtney, Democrat of Connecticut, noted that other countries in Africa — including Algeria, Chad, Egypt and Kenya — qualify for the danger pay. “But folks who are serving in Niger and Mali don’t,” Mr. Courtney said.
General Waldhauser’s remarks came during two hours of testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. He declined to answer questions about the military’s monthslong investigation into the death of four American soldiers and five Nigeriens, including an interpreter, in an Oct. 4 ambush in a remote stretch of desert scrub near Niger’s border with Mali.
The investigation, he said, is complete and with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is going through it. Once Mr. Mattis signs off, General Waldhauser said, military officials will brief the families of the four soldiers who were killed: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Sgt. La David T. Johnson.