US & Canada

US generals forced to retire over Taliban attack

Maj Gen Charles Gurganus and Maj Gen Gregg A Sturdevant
Image caption An inquiry criticised Maj Gen Gurganus, left, and Maj Gen Sturdevant

The head of the US Marine Corps has ordered two generals to retire because they failed to defend Camp Bastion in Afghanistan from a Taliban attack.

Gen James Amos said Maj Gen Charles Gurganus and Maj Gen Gregg A Sturdevant "did not take adequate force protection measures" to stop the 2012 assault.

Two Marines died and eight other personnel were wounded.

The Taliban also destroyed six Marine Harrier fighter jets and badly damaged several others.

Fourteen of the 15 attackers were killed and one was captured. US Marines and UK Royal Air Force gunners were involved in the counter-attack.

In June, Gen Amos asked US Central Command to carry out an investigation and said he decided to take action against the two generals after reviewing the results of that inquiry.

Endorsing the inquiry's findings, Gen Amos wrote: "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 relating to command responsibility and accountability."

He added that Gen Gurganus bore "final accountability" for the lives and equipment under his command, and had made "an error in judgment" in underestimating the risk posed by the Taliban in the Bastion area of Helmand province.

Gen Amos said that Gen Sturdevant - who was in charge of Marine aviation in the region - "did not adequately assess the force protection situation".

Gen Amos asked both men to retire on Monday, speaking personally to Gen Gurganus at the Pentagon and by video conference to Gen Sturdevant, a Marine Corps official told Reuters news agency.

Both men agreed to the request, the official added.

Gen Amos also recommended to the Navy secretary that Gen Gurganus' nomination for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General be rescinded and that Gen Sturdevant receive a letter of censure.

Correspondents say it is a rare public reprimand of senior US military officers.

Following the announcement, 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," he said.

Bastion is one of the biggest camps in Afghanistan with a perimeter of 37km (22 miles).

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