Accountability exists within the military when failures occur, as the Pentagon made clear late yesterday. In a surprisingly public action, the Marine Corps cashiered two generals after a Taliban attack on Camp Bastion a year ago left two Marines dead and a half-dozen fighter jets destroyed:
The commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, said the two generals did not deploy enough troops to guard the base and take other measures to prepare for a ground attack by the Taliban. The two, Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the top Marine commander in southern Afghanistan at the time, and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, the senior Marine aviation officer in the area, “failed to exercise the level of judgment expected of commanders of their rank,” Amos said.
“It was unrealistic to think that a determined enemy would not be able to penetrate the perimeter fence,” Amos said. …
The attack occurred at Camp Bastion, a British-run NATO air base in Helmand province that adjoins Camp Leatherneck, a vast U.S. facility that serves as the NATO headquarters for southwestern Afghanistan. Because Leatherneck does not have a runway, the Marines use Bastion as their principal air hub in the country. Several hundred Marines live and work on the British side, and dozens of U.S. helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are parked there.
The problems that led to the poor perimeter security weren’t entirely within the hands of the commanders on the ground. Between Gurganus’ arrival at the complex in 2011 and the attack in September 2012, troop strength dropped from 17,000 to 7,400, the Post reports, thanks to the drawdown demand of President Barack Obama. Gurganus later asked for 160 more troops at Gurganus, just a few months before the attack, but was denied the increase for the same reason — the Commander in Chief did not want to add troops to the fight. Nevertheless, General Amos concluded, Gurganus and Sturdevant had enough resources to provide proper security, and the success of the Taliban attack was directly related to negligence in security preparations.
If this sounds a little familiar, it might be because of another attack that took place three days earlier than the Taliban assault on Camp Bastion. In the case of the assault on our consulate in Benghazi, though, the security warnings were much clearer, with almost no resources committed to them. When the attack came, there was no reaction from the US except to send an unmanned drone to watch it take place. Even though the attack took place in an area rife with radical Islamist terrorists and the site had repeatedly warned about escalating incidents, the State Department didn’t do anything to improve the security at the facility, or remove the Americans from Benghazi before they could be attacked, as all of the other Western nations did. And when the attack succeeded — on the anniversary of 9/11, no less — the State Department and the White House spun a fantasy about how it was all a spontaneous demonstration caused by a months-old YouTube video.
The Pentagon fired two Marine generals for the failure at Camp Bastion that cost us the lives of two fine Marines. Twice as many Americans died in Benghazi, and top brass in that incident lied to the nation for two weeks about it. Yet no one at State has lost so much as a single paycheck over the latter incident. Where is the accountability for Benghazi?
Addendum: The Boss Emeritus has been all over this story, so be sure to read through her update and her linked posts.