US military to probe attack on Afghan air base
The US military has opened an investigation into a Taliban attack on a NATO base in Afghanistan last year that killed two Marines and destroyed several aircraft, officials said Thursday.
The head of US Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, has ordered the investigation into whether commanders took adequate security measures ahead of the September 14-15 assault at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan.
Investigators will examine "any fault, negligence or failure of responsibility by US commanders and staff for the planning and conduct of force protection" at the air base, spokesman Oscar Seara said in a statement.
The attack on Camp Bastion, in which insurgents used grenades to blow up six Marine Corps Harrier jets and damage two more, represented a major security breach. Britain's Prince Harry was deployed at the base at the time.
Although officers in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan had previously reviewed the assault, the US Marine Corps commandant, General James Amos, asked for a new probe to look at "accountability," Seara said.
"Based upon a request from the Commandant of the Marine Corps and General Austin's own determination, an investigation has been ordered to ensure all matters of US accountability have been appropriately addressed," Seara said.
The probe will examine the role of Major General Charles Gurganus, who was in charge of the base when it was attacked, as well as other senior officers.
The Washington Post, which first reported the investigation, recently wrote that British forces responsible for security on the side of the base that was attacked had transferred the task of manning watchtowers to Tongan soldiers, who left several of them empty.
Security patrols by US Marines around the base's perimeter reportedly also had been scaled back.
In a separate investigation, the US Marine Corps announced it had taken disciplinary action against three officers over an accident in Nevada in March in which seven Marines were killed during a training exercise.
The probe found that "human error was the cause of the mortar mishap," during the live-fire training exercise with 60mm mortars, the Marine Corps said in a statement
Marines using one of the mortars failed to follow correct procedures, causing a mortar round to explode, and the unit had failed to undergo appropriate training before the live-fire drill, according to the probe.
© 2013 AFP