U.S. troops get combat pay in three more African countries

Matt Saintsing
March 08, 2018 - 3:23 pm

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Sarah R. Hickory

Recognizing the evolving U.S. military mission in West Africa, American troops deployed to Niger, Mali and parts of northern Cameroon will receive imminent danger pay.

In a memo signed Monday by Robert Wilkie, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the resolution was backdated to June 7, meaning anyone deployed to these areas can expect to get back pay.

The families of four fallen American soldiers killed in Niger last October will also receive the additional $225 per month deployed.

U.S. Army Sraff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39; Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35; Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29; and Sgt. La David Johnson, 25 were killed in a battle outside the village of Tonga Tonga in western Niger. Black and Wright were Green Beret’s assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, which has a regional focus of Africa.   

The other soldiers were conventional forces who provided support to the Special Forces Group.

Danger pay has been thrust on the national stage in the aftermath in the ambush that took place in Niger on Oct. 4, where an armed force of about 50 militants attacked a team of 11 American and 30 Nigerien soldiers.

According to the Pentagon, U.S. troops in harm’s way in Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan Tunisia and Uganda qualified for the extra pay.

Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the commander of U.S. Africa Commans (AFRICOM), said Tuesday, while testifying at a House Armed Services Committee that he had previously submitted a request for Niger several months back.

A band of militants who call themselves members of the Islamic State in West Africa have made in rows in ungoverned areas of Mali and parts of Niger. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Qaeda’s West African affiliate have had a presence in the region.

Waldhauser said on Tuesday that AQIM has consolidated into a new group with the name Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) and enjoy freedom of movement around large swaths of Azawad, a province in northern Mali.