Marine Generals Fired Due to 2012 Attack in Afghanistan
In September 2012, 15 Taliban soldiers dressed in US military fatigues cut a hole in the perimeter fence at Camp Bastion, the Marines main airport in Afghanistan. Once inside the base, the Taliban soldiers headed directly for the Marines’ hangar and sought to destroy as many aircraft as possible; In the end, the soldiers succeeded in destroying 6 Marine Harrier fighter jets, each estimated to be worth $24 million dollars.
Not only did the Taliban soldiers succeed in destroying 6 fighter jets, but they also killed 2 US Marines, and injured 16 total US and British soldiers.
The two commanding US Marine officers at Camp Bastion, Major General Charles Gurganus (the top Marine Commander in Afghanistan) and Major General Gregg Sturdevant (the Marine aviation commander in the area), were asked by Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos to retire this Monday, due to their negligence to protect their troops during the 2012 attack. According to military historian Thomas E. Ricks, this is the first time a military commander has been relieved of service due to negligence since a 1971 attack on a US military outpost in Vietnam, in which 30 soldiers were killed.
Despite the devastation wrought from the attack, the Marines did not launch an investigation until 8 months had elapsed. At the end of a 4-month investigation, the Marine Corps concluded that Gurganus and Sturdevant “did not take adequate force protection measures within the range of responses proportionate to the threat.”
General Amos stated that this was the hardest decision he has ever made as Commandant due to his long-standing relationship with the two men, but that “The fog of war, the uncertain risks of combat, and the actions of a determined foe do not relieve a commander of the responsibility for decisions that a reasonable, prudent commander of the same grade and experience would have made under similar circumstances.”
Despite the fact that the base was shared with the British and it was their personal duty to ensure that the perimeter was properly defended, Amos stated “Marines can never place complete reliance for their own safety in the hands of another force.”
In an act of admirable responsibility and ownership, Gurganus told Amos that “As the most senior commander on the ground, I am accountable.”
Both Gurganus and Sturdevant have accepted the request from Amos to retire (Perhaps the decision was made easy by the fact that both men will make $145,000 per year in pension pay due to their 2-Star rank…).
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