Colonel Bradley D. Moses, formerly the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Commander, is the only officer involved in the 2017 deadly Niger Ambush to have escaped some form of punishment.
The ambush resulted in the deaths of three Green Berets and one support soldier. The lack of appropriate training has been the main reason cited for the outcome.
The Advanced Operational Base (AOB) commander, a senior captain, had approved the fateful mission’s Concept of Operations (CONOP) because he believed that he had the authority to do so. At the time of the team’s initial mission, no officer higher than the AOB commander was aware that the mission was to find/fix and, if possible, capture a key member of ISIS.
Eight U.S. Army Special Forces members and two-star Air Force Major General Hicks, the Africa Command (AFRICOM) commander at the time, all received punishment as a result of the mission’s outcome. The decisions all focused on training failures before the soldiers deployed to West Africa. Colonel Moses, who was the forward SOC Forward North-West Africa (SOCFWD-NWA) commander located in Baumholder, Germany at the time, somehow slipped through the cracks.
He was to be promoted to brigadier general after his assignment in Afghanistan. However, at the request of the Senate, he was removed from the promotion list, leaving his fate unknown in the Army. Colonel Moses is currently listed as “partitioned,” which makes his situation even more precarious. The Senate had sent inquiries and re-examined Colonel Moses’s role in the Niger ambush.
Additionally, many members of the 3rd Special Forces Group that were familiar with the incident wrote to members of the Senate encouraging punishment to be issued.
Another officer implicated in the affair, Lt. Col. Painter, was punished after the attack but was still recommended for promotion to colonel. His nomination failed nevertheless.
Family members of the soldiers killed in the ambush, and even some members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, had expressed anger at the multiple investigations, spread out over almost two years. They also berated the lack of reprimands for high-ranking military officials, including Colonel Moses, for ordering the 11-member Special Forces team on the mission without knowing the enemy’s strength.
In several interviews with soldiers who served under his command, but wish to remain anonymous, SOFREP learned that the general feeling about Col. Moses is sour, with all of the soldiers having nothing good to say about the officer in question. When asked if this was because of the Niger ambush, all declined and rather said that Moses had lost touch with the men on the ground and forgotten what it was like to be on a team.
The reigns of the 3rd Group will soon be taken up by Colonel Johnston. Colonel Johnston is widely loved by the men for his former leadership in the Group as the 1st Battalion Commander in 2015-2016.