The head of the US Marine Corps has ordered two generals into retirement because they failed to defend Camp Bastion in Afghanistan during an attack by the Taliban in which two Marines died.
General James Amos said that Major General Charles M Gurganus and Major General Gregg A Sturdevant “did not take adequate force protection measures” to stop the 2012 attack on the airfield in south-western Afghanistan when the Taliban attacked.
Gen Amos said he made the decision against the pair after reviewing the results of an investigation by US Central Command.
Eight other personnel were wounded in the attack.
“While I am mindful of the degree of difficulty the Marines in Afghanistan faced in accomplishing a demanding combat mission with a rapidly declining force, my duty requires me to remain true to the timeless axioms related relating to command responsibility and accountability,” Gen Amos said.
During the attack on the British-run base, six fighter jets worth $200 million (£123 million) were also destroyed.
Maj Gen Sturdevant was in charge of Marine aviation in that region of Afghanistan.
Gen Amos asked the two generals to retire today and they agreed.
Maj Gen Gurganus, who had referred to the Taliban's penetration of Camp Bastion's supposedly secure 37 km perimeter as a “lucky break,” had been nominated for promotion to three-star rank; that nomination had been put on hold during the investigation. He will retire as a two-star general.
After Amos's announcement, Maj Gen Gurganus issued a brief statement saying he felt privileged to have served in the Marine Corps for 37 years. “I will treasure that forever. I have complete trust and confidence in the leadership of our Corps and fully respect the decision of our Commandant.”
The attack last September, in which insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades blew up jets, is reported to have occurred while Prince Harry was stationed at the base, in Helmand Province. There were claims that the Prince was hidden away in a safe room while the attack was going on.
This is thought to be the first time a general has been dismissed for negligence following a successful enemy assault since the Vietnam War.