By Barbara Starr
WASHINGTON — In an action unprecedented during 12 years of war in Afghanistan, the commandant of the Marine Corps is firing two top generals for failing to protect troops at a base in southern Afghanistan from a Taliban attack.
Marine Gen. James Amos, the Corps commandant, agreed to a finding that Maj. Gens. Charles M. Gurganus and Gregg A. Sturdevant “did not take adequate force protection measures” at the British-operated Camp Bastion last year, the Corps said Monday.
On Sept. 14-15, 2012, Taliban fighters got through an unguarded part of a fence and engaged in a long running gunbattle with U.S. and coalition forces. Two Marines were killed and eight other personnel were wounded. Six aircraft were destroyed by the Taliban, the largest loss of Marine aircraft since the Vietnam War.
There were three investigations of the incident, two of which Gurganus ran, according to a Marine Corps official. But Amos then asked U.S. Central Command for an independent probe. Central Command recommended both generals leave the corps and Amos accepted it.
Amos has recommended to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that Gurganus’s promotion to lieutenant general, currently on hold in the Senate, be rescinded. He also recommended that Sturdevant receive a letter of censure from Mabus.
Both men have been told to submit their retirement letters.
The airfield was operated by British forces but Sturdevant remained responsible for using U.S. Marines to protect personnel and aircraft.