The Defense Department on March 8 announced that troops deployed to Niger, Mali and northern Cameroon qualify to receive imminent danger pay/hostile fire pay, retroactive to June 7, 2017.

The retroactive date allows the families of Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright to collect an additional $225 a month for the time the soldiers were assigned there.

The four soldiers were killed in an October ambush in Niger that is still the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, from left, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed in Niger when a joint patrol of American and Niger forces was ambushed on Oct. 4. (U.S. Army via AP)
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, from left, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed in Niger when a joint patrol of American and Niger forces was ambushed on Oct. 4. (U.S. Army via AP)

While this is welcome news, the Pentagon should have approved this pay a long time ago.

U.S. troops have quietly been operating in these countries, and in many parts of Africa, for many months. And it wasn’t until the four soldiers were killed in the deadly ambush in Niger that Congress and the public became aware of the true extent of U.S. involvement in the region.

When troops are called upon to serve in harm’s way, they should be taken care of properly.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy like the one in Niger to prompt DoD to act.