Politics & Policy

Indefensible Conduct at Camp Bastion

Memorial service for Lt. Col. Christopher Raible at Camp Bastion, September 19, 2012.
Time for answers about why two Marines died at a British-run NATO compound

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-Qaeda 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 Leon Panetta, who was then the defense secretary. The meticulously coordinated Camp Bastion 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.

#ad#That’s exactly what Camp Bastion families have alleged since they’ve discovered over the past year that there were gross security lapses at the base. As I’ve reported, 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 after joint military leaders 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.”

Kim Raible, mother of Lt. Col. Chris Raible, recounted to me what Amos told her husband when they met at Dover Air Force Base to receive their son’s body last year. It was quite a different tune. “My husband, nearly nose to nose with General Amos, told him that the lack of security caused our son’s death. He was outraged by the statement and assured us both that when all investigations were completed, we would find that this was not the case.”

The Amos report has now vindicated the families, and two generals are on their way out. But Kim Raible, inspired by her son’s lifelong example of valor and courage, isn’t going to let the incident rest. She is concerned about the conditions at all jointly run coalition bases and the safety of her son’s peers around the world.

“As I was briefed on the report, my main question was, ‘Where is the investigation from the British?’”

“My son had given a report on his concerns for poor security that existed,” Mrs. Raible shared with friends and family on Facebook. She “could not see the report,” she was told. “NO ONE is looking, for political or diplomatic reasons, at the Brits who are ultimately responsible for this tragedy,” Mrs. Raible believes. “The Brits have laid so low in all this, it is ridiculous. Personally, for a year, I have not had the strength to take this on until now. I want to hear from the Brits.”

The proud American mom issued her own call of duty:

Sending our men and women to bases around the world and not making security our number one priority is [i]ncomprehensible. . . . My son had expressed his security concerns with a very long and detailed report but still paid with his life. I am demanding that this be exposed and addressed by our government and military. I want an investigation into security of all coalition bases. I want our men and women that serve to be able to rest, sleep, and believe that we are doing everything to keep them safe when they are called upon to sacrifice so much away from home.

Indeed. The Amos report has been forwarded to the Brits. But where is our commander in chief’s demand for a full after-action review by our allies? The families of the Camp Bastion heroes deserve no less.

— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies© 2013 Creators.com

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
World

Wolf Warrior II Tells Us a Lot about China

The Chinese economy is taking a big hit as a result of the trade war with the U.S: A leading export indicator has fallen several months in a row, Chinese companies postponed campus recruitment, and auto and housing sales dropped. A number of U.S. manufacturers are moving production outside of China. So ... Read More