Last fall a group of 15 Taliban fighters breached the perimeter of one of the largest bases in Afghanistan, completely unchallenged. They made their way on the base, taking the lives of two Marines and then destroyed over $200 million dollars worth of US Marine aircraft (almost the entire Squadron).
After the attack, which resulted in the deaths of two Marines and the largest loss of allied materiel in the 11-year-long Afghan war, the top U.S. commander on the base did not order a formal investigation into the security lapses or sanction any personnel responsible for guarding the facility, the officials said.
It was a joint base with the British and now it appears that because of that fact our country is worrying about embarrassing the British military leadership by publicly stating what everyone in the military knows already.
In the days following the raid, some U.S. and NATO military leaders insisted that the Taliban got lucky by choosing to breach where they did. But several officials with direct knowledge of the assault said in recent interviews that staffing decisions by U.S. and British commanders weakened the base’s defenses, making it easier for the insurgents to reconnoiter the compound and enter without resistance.
This is a disgrace to our entire military, our country and worst of all, the families of those two fallen Marines. There used to be a saying in out country, “The Buck Stops here” which means that whomever is in command it accountable.
You can ask any of my soldiers that ever served with me while I was their First Sergeant and they will tell you that I spoke at length about R.A.I.D. It stands for Responsibility, Accountability, Initiative and Discipline. These were the four tenants that I demanded all of my soldiers exercise all the time. I stressed to them how important it was to apply these to their the lives both on and off duty. In my talks with soldiers about R.A.I.D. I would stress the fact that Responsibility can be delegated but Accountability never can. It is impossible to delegate it. If someone charges you with a responsibility to get something done, you may be able to delegate the task to someone else to physically perform, however you are and always will be accountable to the person that asked or told you to do it. You can’t whine with a “but I told him to do it”. That does not hold any weight or integrity.
So back to this story that came out on Saturday about the dereliction of duty and lack of accountability on behalf of the US and British leadership on the base. The base has been the site of an attempted attack on Secretary of Defense Panetta just six months earlier and it was September of 2012, which was still well within the height of the fighting season in the worst year of violence to date.
“You can’t defend everywhere every day,” Gurganus said in response to a question about the attack. “You base your security on the threat you’ve got.” He said the Taliban caught “a lucky break.”
That statement by MG Gurganus is in itself reason enough to relieve him of his duties and force him to retire. There are many parts in the whole story that are disturbing to read, however that quote above is 100% whining and excuse making. If I was his CSM and was near him, I would have tossed my career right there while I ate him up one side and down the other. I am sure this MG didn’t take whining excuses like that from the Marines in his command throughout his career. Him stating that on the record is a stain on the impeccable reputation of the entire Marine Corps.
The second worse thing stated in this story is the following
No U.S. or British military personnel have been reprimanded as a result of the attack. The Marine Corps does not plan to release its review. NATO also intends to keep its investigation confidential, in part to avoid embarrassing the British for leaving towers unmanned, according to officers briefed on the findings.
“We’ve corrected the deficiencies in security, but we don’t want to put a stick in the eye of our closest ally,” said a senior U.S. official who served in Afghanistan at the time.
To not hold those accountable and be transparent about the mistakes made is a failure on all of the leadership in both countries, all the way to the top. It is amazing how we can make public spectacles out of and punish soldiers who mistakenly throw Korans into a burn put with the other trash they are mixed with, or Marines who out of disgust and anger with a cowardice enemy urinate on their dead bodies (which by the way, nobody in the world gave a crap about except our civilian leaders in the Government) but they don’t make public and hold accountable the leaders and decision makers on this base that directly allowed this to happen.
If this is a sign of what is to come as we drawdown, then it makes it more important than ever to pull all troops out now instead of leaving them there as IED and IDF Fodder for our enemies.
Please take the time to read the whole story. I look forward to your comments and feelings on this topic. Feel free to comment on this blog post and lets chat about it.