The families of two slain Marines from Camp Bastion finally got some answers this week. But their battle for full accountability in the 9/14/12 Taliban attack is far from over. Two top U.S. military leaders will get early retirement and full pensions for their fatal negligence.
But one American mom wants to know: What about the British? And what about the rest of our troops on vulnerable coalition-run bases around the world?
On Monday, U.S. commandant of the Marine Corps James Amos announced the "firing" of two generals for failing to plan and protect our troops adequately against the Taliban raid on Camp Bastion. The base is a British-run NATO compound that adjoins our Marines' Camp Leatherneck. Prince Harry, a ripe al-Qaida target, was serving at the sprawling complex at the time of the attack.
The infiltration of 15 jihadists disguised in U.S. combat fatigues took place three days after last year's 9/11 attack on our Benghazi consulate. The Camp Bastion attack came exactly six months after a failed suicide bombing that targeted then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The meticulously coordinated siege resulted in two deaths and the most devastating loss of U.S. airpower since Vietnam.
Let's be clear. "Firing" actually means forced resignations and full benefits at rank for Maj. Gen. Charles "Mark" Gurganus, commander of Regional Command Southwest in Afghanistan, and Maj. Gen. Gregg Sturdevant, commander of the Marines' aviation wing in the region. Amos concluded: "In their duty to protect their forces these two generals did not meet" the exacting standards of judgment expected of them.
That's exactly what Camp Bastion families have alleged since they discovered gross security lapses at the base over the past year. As I've reported over the past year, two heroic U.S. Marines -- Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell -- gave their lives in the bloody battle last year, and nearly a dozen others were injured. When officials tried to cover it up, the families pressed their case on Capitol Hill and to the public. They had learned on their own that their loved ones were left vulnerable to attack by joint military leaders who outsourced watchtower security on the base to soldiers from Tonga.
The Amos report confirmed all of that and more. British commanders knew the airfield was insecure before 9/14/12. Leaders on both sides of the pond failed to coordinate their defenses. Three months before the raid, the report acknowledged, military officials had been warned of "uncontrolled access" that left "personnel and equipment exposed."
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