US Troops in Niger to Get Danger Pay Five Months after Deadly Ambush

Australian and U.S. Special Operations soldiers demonstrate small unit tactics during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 3, 2017. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Christopher C. Klutts)
Military.com | By

U.S. troops in Niger will be getting up to $225 per month extra in imminent-danger pay (IDP) retroactive to last June 7, making the families of four troops killed in an ambush near the village of Tongo Tongo on Oct. 4 eligible for the payments.

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie released a memo to the service branches Monday authorizing IDP for troops in Niger, Mali and Cameroon, retroactive to last summer.

The retroactive date applies to the families of four members of the Army's Third Special Forces Group who were killed Oct. 4 while on a joint patrol with Nigerien troops.

Those killed in that incident include Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida; Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

The Pentagon memo on IDP, first reported by Task & Purpose, was issued a day before Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he had submitted a request for danger pay months ago for service members in Niger and other areas of Africa.

He said the request had yet to be approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

"We have made that request a while back. The short answer is 'Yes,' we have submitted that request," Waldhauser told the committee.

Defense Department regulations state that service members in IDP-designated areas can receive danger pay of $7.50 per day, up to a maximum of $225 per month. How and when countries and regions become IDP-designated areas rating danger pay are a perennial source of dispute in the ranks.

The IDP memo for Niger, Mali and Cameroon states that military personnel "on duty in the designated area during any month or portion of a month in which this designation was in effect, and are qualified in all other respects, may be paid IDP at a rate of $225 per month, prorated at $7.50 per day, retroactive to the effective date" of June 7, 2017.

Service members deployed to Niger, Mali and Cameroon for more than 30 days were already receiving an extra $150 per month in hardship-duty pay.

Wilkie's memo said that, as a result of the addition of IDP of $225 per month for personnel in Niger, Mali and Cameroon, the hardship-duty pay will be reduced from $150 to $100 per month.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.