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AFRICOM Commander is Not Retired, Contrary to Pentagon Claims

The commander responsible for military response to threats in northern Africa is still on active duty contrary to a statement made earlier by a Pentagon spokesman.

Marine Corps Col. George Bristol was the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara commander until he stepped down from that position in March. As the person directly responsible for coordinating special forces responses to extremists in northern Africa, congressional investigators were very eager to talk to him. But as recently as two weeks ago the Department of Defense claimed that Col. Bristol was retired and could not be compelled to testify.

However a story published yesterday by the Marine Corps Times indicates that is not the case. Marine spokeswoman Maj. Shawn Haney told MCT Wednesday that Col. Bristol remains on active duty until August 1st, just under two weeks from now.

Congressional investigators held a closed hearing with Col. Bristol's superior, AFRICOM commander Gen. Carter Ham, on June 26. However Pentagon spokesman Major Robert Firman told CBS News the Department of Defense could not make Col. Bristol available because it was unable to "compel retired members to testify before Congress."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who has helped lead the Benghazi investigation, expressed obvious frustration with the unavailability of Col. Bristol saying "They say he's retired and they can't reach out to him. That's Hogwash." The Marine Corps Times notes that "Pentagon officials said Wednesday that they were looking into the case."


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