US troops in Niger to receive hostile fire pay

US troops in Niger to receive hostile fire pay
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U.S. troops serving in Niger and Mali will receive extra pay for being in danger of hostile fire, a congressman said.

“I am very pleased that the military was able to provide a resolution for our service members, who clearly deserve Imminent Danger Pay when operating in hostile environments in the Sahel region of Africa,” Rep. Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyHouse committee heads demand Coast Guard Academy explain handling of harassment allegations House votes to repeal ObamaCare's 'Cadillac tax' Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE (D-Conn.) said in a statement late Wednesday.

Later Thursday, the Pentagon released a memo confirming that troops in Niger, Mali and parts of northern Cameroon would receive the $225 per month bonus.

 On Tuesday, Courtney questioned Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, on why troops serving in Niger and Mali do not receive the bonus when those serving in other African countries such as Algeria, Chad, Egypt and Kenya do.

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The issue of Imminent Danger Pay (IDP) for troops serving on the ground in Niger was raised after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush there in October.

“We know enough about the incident from public hearings in this committee that it was a violent and vicious event,” Courtney said Tuesday in questioning Waldhauser.

Waldhauser told Courtney he requested the service members receive the extra pay “months ago” and that he was awaiting approval from the White House.

Courtney said the Pentagon notified his office Wednesday that U.S. troops in Niger and Mali would get the pay after approval from the under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

The pay will be retroactive to June, when Waldhauser first made the request, Courtney said.

The decision means that there are now 18 countries in Africa where deployed service members receive IDP as well as Hardship Duty Pay, according to Courtney.

The issue of the danger pay was one of the few Niger-related questions Waldhauser would answer on Tuesday.

Africa Command has wrapped up its investigation into the ambush, and the results are now being reviewed by Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Waldhauser said he would not discuss the details publicly until the families of soldiers killed are briefed. 

“Once the secretary completes his review and the families have been briefed, I intend to provide a comprehensive and detailed account of the investigation to you as soon as possible,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

Updated at 4:54 p.m.