Pentagon sacks two Marine generals for security lapses in Afghanistan

posted at 2:01 pm on October 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

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.

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d1carter on October 1, 2013 at 2:01 PM


red_herring on October 1, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Responsibility? From ANYONE in the political Ruling class?


Benghazi is Obama’s Iran/Contra but the Boehner and his buddies have been enabling Obama from the get go. If the Pelosi Democrats were in charge of the House and we had Romney in the White House, they would have already impeached him.

The Benghazi four are just collateral damage to our D.C. Lords and masters.

PappyD61 on October 1, 2013 at 2:05 PM

The Purge continues

faraway on October 1, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Yeah, and just wait and see what he does to those NPS or DC police flunkies for the security lapse at the WWII monument today.

de rigueur on October 1, 2013 at 2:07 PM

The only reason they got the sack was because the planes were destroyed.

If only Chris Stevens, et al, had expensive planes around them…

Resist We Much on October 1, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Benghazi is something that happened a long time ago, so what does it matter, or something…

HRC (Kankles)

patman77 on October 1, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Ben Ghazi?
Is he the Ambassador from Libya, or an actor?

Another Drew on October 1, 2013 at 2:13 PM

MajGen Sturdevant is a good man. He’ll suffer the consequences like a man.

obama is a bad “man”. “he’ll” hide behind behind hillary’s behind and blame President Bush.

crash72 on October 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM

What difference, at this point……

questionmark on October 1, 2013 at 2:22 PM

So two Marine generals who asked for more troops and were denied are held accountable by ending their careers and probably demoting them in rank, which will hit their retirement pay.

Meanwhile, despite knowing an attack was likely across the Middle East on September 11th, no one in the state department or White House has been held even slightly accountable.

If I were one of the fired generals, I don’t know if I could have resisted screaming back at Gen Amos, “What difference, at this point, does it make?!?”

thuljunior on October 1, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Oh yeah, Ben Ghazi. he was great in run for your life.

faol on October 1, 2013 at 2:30 PM

IIRC, and I may be wrong, wasn’t there also requirements for using locals?
always seemed to me it was purposely bound to fail.

dmacleo on October 1, 2013 at 2:33 PM

The attack occurred at Camp Bastion, a British-run NATO air base

Something is weird here. If this is a British base, the responsibility for security rests with the Brits. The Brits could task the tenant (U.S.) unit for troop assistance, but the overall responsibility remains with the host command.

I doubt that things have changed that much since I retired. Methinks General Amos is doing some fancy ass covering.

Special Forces Grunt on October 1, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Thank you, Ed, for providing the comparison to the actions taken here by the Obama Administration and Obama’s irresponsible behavior wrt accountability for Benghazi.

Dusty on October 1, 2013 at 2:41 PM

[Special Forces Grunt on October 1, 2013 at 2:41 PM]

I was going to make a similar point. Thanks for getting there first.

Dusty on October 1, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Accountability exists within the military when failures occur, as the Pentagon made clear late yesterday.

Only to a very small degree as the stupid Coinsters, the “Winning Muslim Hearts-and-Minds” idiots, at the Pentagon continue to skate.

VorDaj on October 1, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Unless they had a contingent of Marines specifically for perimeter defense it would be asking a lot of the maintenance Marines to pull that duty and still maintain the aircraft. Where were the Brits? It was their base. Says something for the every Marine a rifleman though, those maintenance Marines went after them. Amos is covering for something though or was told he needed some hide.

major dad on October 1, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Was this the raid that took out the Harriers? Not that was a FUBAR and I was wondering if/when someone would get taken to the woodshed.

CitizenEgg on October 1, 2013 at 3:07 PM

If I were in charge of defending the base,a million land mines would be a start.

Are we allowed to put mines around our bases?

goatweed on October 1, 2013 at 3:35 PM

In an earlier age in the West, heads were expected to roll when something bad happened, whether it was their fault or not. In Britain, however contemptible their political class has become, they still have that tradition of leaders resigning after disgrace or failure.

That’s the spirit of true public service: the acknowledgment that, even if something was not your fault, you are not irreplaceable and you should not be building a personal legacy larger than having taken your place on the line. The nation is bigger than you in a very real sense.

Nowadays in America, we have Sanfords, Spitzers and Weiners clinging onto power in a state of total humiliation, while Benghazis and 9/11 happen that apparently were nobody’s job to prevent.

HitNRun on October 1, 2013 at 3:37 PM

I’m pretty sure that Gen. Amos will go down as the worst Commandant in the history of the Corps!

tomshup on October 1, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Bastion gets some action while Benghazi doesn’t. What message does that send? That Harrier jump jets are more important than human lives.

Scopper on October 1, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Amos has zero standing to claim moral superiority, in anything. He abdicated any he had himself.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on October 1, 2013 at 2:26 PM

I tend to agree. As a former Marine, I still take an interest in the goings on in the Corps, and I smell something under Amos’ command. He’s accused of improper command influence of the Marine snipers accused of urinating on dead jihadis ( he wants them hammered) while trying to protect and promote their executive officer who just happens to be his friend and predessor’s son. He most recently has had his accuser, a Marine major, relieved of command for having the balls to blow the whistle on him. Now he’s burning two Major Generals for the same thing? And why so public? He can easily derail their careers very quietly. I smell a political rat and I bet it has 4 stars.

cartooner on October 1, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Khe Sanh all over again.

When if ever will we learn? But if we really changed the ROE’s and did what was necessary…we’d ruin all that valued diversity, wouldn’t we?

Twana on October 1, 2013 at 7:21 PM

The Purge continues
faraway on October 1, 2013 at 2:06 PM


Alinsky on October 1, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Accountability exists within the military when failures occur, as the Pentagon made clear late yesterday.

Too bad one of this nation’s ‘spokes’ in the ‘wheel of Checks & Balances’ does not include the military having the authority to step in and dispence punishment to Politicians for Constitutional Violations, Crimes – such as Perjury, working with terrorists (Al Qaeda/Libya), and other ‘failures’!

easyt65 on October 2, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Marine Commandant James Amos seems to be getting caught up in political nonsense that does not make him look good.

Two good Marine generals asked for more troops for security at Camp Bastion and were denied. What specifically were they then suppose to have done and did not do? Don’t give me generalizations.

Perhaps the question should be asked: what would Marine General James Mattis have done if he had been Commandant?

Phil Byler on October 2, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Good evening..:)

Dire Straits on October 2, 2013 at 5:06 PM


Dire Straits on October 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM