Camp Bastion generals fired for negligence after enemy attack

September 30, 2013 4:38:49 PM PDT
For the first time since the Vietnam War a general-- make that two-- are being fired for negligence after a successful enemy attack.

Ten days ago, the ABC7 I-Team investigated this case.

The two generals were found to have neglected their duties by not deploying enough troops to guard the base and take other measures to prepare for a ground attack by the Taliban.

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," said their commandant.

Taliban fighters took advantage of it, easily attacking the base and wiping out nearly an entire squadron of American jets. A video posted on a jihadist website shows Taliban leaders planning and training for the attack; mapping out the base and practicing cutting through razor wire.

"We would never expect anything like this and we really didn't train for something of this sort," said Staff Sgt. Gustavo Delgado, Chicago Marine.

Chicago Marine Gustavo Delgado was one of the first to engage the 15 Taliban fighters.

"The type of training we received whenever, if we did get attacked, was to just get inside the bunkers. Because maybe we would expect mortar rounds, you know, pretty much indirect fire. Never something like this where there would be fighting right there in front of us. So, we weren't really prepared for it," said Staff Sgt. Delgado.

And neither were his commanders according to a new Pentagon investigation. These two Marine generals fired late Monday for allowing lax perimeter security, at some points including unmanned guard towers.

The result: eight Harrier attack jets worth $200 million were destroyed, the worst loss of U.S. airpower in a single incident since Vietnam. And two marines were killed from the shrapnel of rocket propelled grenades.

"There were concerns of security," said Deborah Hatheway, Sgt. Atwell's aunt.

The I-Team interviewed Deborah Hatheway, aunt of Sergeant Brad Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Indiana and Congressman Todd Rokita who represents Atwell's Indiana hometown, where the streets were lined with mourners for the marine's funeral.

"This looks like a pretty simple failure. We failed to guard our own troops," said Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana).

"In my opinion you can slap stars on a man's chest but that doesn't make him a general," said Hatheway.

Public pressure from the families and Congressman Rokita may well have contributed to Monday's action by the Marine Corps. Only ex-general Gurganis has offered comment, saying he fully respects the decision of the marine commandant.


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