Marines fire two generals over attack on Camp Bastion

In an action unprecedented during 12 years of war in Afghanistan, the commandant of the Marine Corps is firing two top generals for failing to protect troops and their base in southern Afghanistan from a Taliban attack.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, has agreed to a finding that Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant "did not take adequate force protection measures" at Camp Bastion last year, the service said on Monday.

On September 14-15, 2012, Taliban fighters got through an unguarded part of a fence and engaged in a long running gun battle with U.S. and coalition forces.

Two Marines were killed and eight other personnel were wounded. Six aircraft were destroyed by the Taliban, the largest loss of Marine aircraft since the Vietnam War.

There were three investigations of the incident, two of which Gurganus ran, according to a Marine Corps official. But Amos then asked U.S. Central Command for an independent probe. Central Command recommended both generals leave the corps and Amos accepted it.

Amos has recommended to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that Gurganus's promotion to lieutenant general, currently on hold in the Senate, be rescinded. He also recommended that Sturdevant receive a letter of censure from Mabus.

Both men have been told to submit their retirement letters.

In a statement, the Marines said Amos praised the generals for pursuing the U.S. combat goals, but "concluded that the commanders, in overseeing the camp's force-protection plan, did not exercise the level of judgment expected of general officers."

Amos made a subtle reference to the question of whether the Marines had enough manpower on hand." While I am mindful of the degree of difficulty the Marines in Afghanistan faced in accomplishing a demanding combat mission with a rapidly declining force, my duty requires me to remain true to the timeless axioms relating to command responsibility and accountability," Amos wrote in endorsing the investigation's findings. "Responsibility and accountability are the sacred tenets of commandership."
The Taliban exploited some blind spots in the perimeter defense at Camp Bastion.  They appear to have focused their efforts at destroying aircraft and in the process killed two Marines trying to stop them.  There was clearly a failure of perimeter security, but it looks like an upward delegation of responsibility.  Someone in their command should have done a better job of finding the weak spots and putting a system in place to defeat an attack.  That is basic Marine Corps tactics.


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