The Shabab fighters then fired rockets at an airplane on the tarmac. It caught fire, killing the pilots, both of whom were American contractors, General Basham said. Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64, were two experienced pilots with L3 Technologies, a Pentagon contractor that helped with surveillance and reconnaissance missions around the world.
During the news briefing on the report, the Pentagon declined to go into detail about whether any of the senior officers involved had been fired.
Africa Command conducted an initial investigation shortly after the attack, but the results were bottled up in the Pentagon in the final months of the Trump administration and were never approved or made public.
When the Biden administration took office last January, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III ordered a review of the Africa Command’s inquiry, in part to avoid a repeat of the contentious Defense Department investigation into the 2017 Niger attack. That report found widespread problems across all levels of the military counterterrorism operation but focused in particular on the actions of junior officers leading up to the ambush — unfairly so, in the view of many family members, lawmakers and James N. Mattis, the defense secretary at the time.
The review that Mr. Austin requested, conducted by Gen. Paul E. Funk II, the head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, validated the Africa Command’s findings, officials said on Thursday.
The Manda Bay deaths signified a grim expansion of the Shabab campaign against the United States, which was often confined to Somalia but in this case spilled over into Kenya despite an escalating American air campaign in the region at the time.
During his final weeks in office, President Donald J. Trump ordered most of the 700 U.S. troops in Somalia to leave the country but not the region. Most of the forces transferred to Djibouti or Kenya, including Manda Bay, where security was improved, officials said. The Biden administration is conducting a review to determine whether to send any of those troops back to Somalia.