Camp Bastion attack blamed on UK cuts

A new report has emerged showing that cuts to the British military™s budget and its failure to invest in security at its main base in Afghanistan were the main driving force behind a disaster in Camp Bastion in September last year.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had rejected recommendations by its military authorities in Camp Bastion on costs grounds to beef up security there six month before an attack in which two U.S. Marines were killed, 16 troopers injured and eight American aircraft worth more than $200m either were destroyed or damaged, The Independent reported.

The arrack was carried out by 15 Taliban fighters who had been dressed in American uniforms and entered the airfield at Camp Bastion through an unmanned watchtower, where they engaged in a 5-hour firefight with the U.S. troopers using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the report said.

The U.S. military made the revelations in newly released documents previously marked œsecret”. It said the UK government decided not to pay for stronger security at the time.

According to a U.S. general, the British military commanders of the base œscrewed up” in failing to provide necessary forces for more than half the guard towers which had been left empty when the insurgents attacked.

The U.S. general who was forced to retire in the aftermath of the attack said the British failed to protect the troops from the assault, while they were in charge of all security at the joint facility which houses around 30,000 foreign troops.

The MoD has rejected recommendations made in March 2012 to pay for a fence to protect the airfield, according to secret papers released in conjunction with the U.S. report.

œA statement of requirements (SOR) was generated to request the preferred course of action: the installation of an airfield perimeter fence … This SOR was initially sent through UK chain of command for approval; however, it was denied on the basis of cost [vs] security gains,” reads the review by the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

In another document, a senior US officer, whose name is redacted, states: œEvery airfield that I™ve ever been [to] has a fence around to help protect it.” The ease with which the base was penetrated was œdirectly correlated” to Britain™s œinability to finance something that would be routine to us, and that is putting a fence around the flight line”, the officer is quoted as saying.

Madeleine Moon MP, a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee, said that the report showed the œongoing risks associated with the drawdown of UK and US forces”.

œSadly I doubt the MoD™s willingness to be as robust [as in the US] in identifying its mistakes and the senior officers, including those at Permanent Joint Headquarters, who failed to take the appropriate actions to ensure the protection of Camp Bastion,” she said.

MOL/HE

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