Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Marine generals sacked for Camp Bastion failings

When a small group of Taliban fighters cut through the fence and got into the massive Camp Bastion in southwestern Helmand province in September last year I wrote the following:
"The Camp Bastion night attack will go down as one of the most one-sided and audacious attacks in the history of modern warfare. Around 15-20 Taliban got into the base - home to 21,000 US and British soldiers - and proceeded to destroy six US Marine Harrier AV-8B jump jets, as well as damage many others. The cost to the Taliban, besides the deaths of its fighters, was probably no more than a few thousand dollars. The costs to the Coalition runs into hundreds of millions of dollars".

It has taken a year for the American military's most senior commanders to respond to the attack, but now they have done so. In what has been referred to as an "unprecedented" decision, the two senior American officers at the base have been retired from the service ie sacked.
Major General Charles M Gurganus and Major General Gregg A Sturdevant "did not take the necessary steps to ensure force protection," says the official inquiry, resulting in the deaths of two marines and injury to eight others, as well as massive loss of aircraft and equipment. Gurganus was commanding general of Regional Command Southwest and I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Sturdevant was commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. 
In announcing the decision, Marine Corps commandant General James F Amos said: "This is the hardest decision I've had to make as commandant of the Marine Corps. I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me, but Mark Gurganus and Greg Sturdevant were close personal friends of mine. I served with them for decades. They're extraordinary Marine officers who have served their country with distinction and honor for many years. But commandership is a sacred responsibility and the standard for general officers is necessarily high. In their duty to protect our forces these two generals did not meet that standard." Quite so. They were outwitted by a bunch of peasant guerrillas.

If you want to read the official US Army report into the attack, you can find it here.

No comments: