UK & World News
Security Before Camp Bastion Raid Criticised
British commanders must take some blame for inadequate security at Camp Bastion when it was attacked in 2012, a parliamentary report has concluded.
Fifteen Taliban insurgents broke through the perimeter fence on September 14, 2012, killing two US Marines in a battle lasting into the following day.
Eight British and eight American military personnel and one civilian were injured. Six US Harrier jets were destroyed.
Fourteen of the insurgents were killed and the remaining one wounded, captured and interrogated.
That night one of the guard towers, Tower 16, was left unmanned, allowing the attackers to approach the base unseen.
All towers are now manned constantly by a team of guards working on rotation.
The Defence Select Committee report also noted concern that poppies were being cultivated immediately outside the fence, allowing Afghans to approach the walls easily and at will.
This could have allowed potential attackers to get a good sense of the base, up close, in preparation for an attack.
However, no evidence was found that requests for improved force protection were turned down on cost grounds.
"We are satisfied that as far as possible, the vulnerabilities which led to this extraordinary attack have now been addressed," committee chairman James Arbuthnot said.
"But we recommend that the MoD capture the lessons identified as part of its wider efforts to learn lessons for future operations."
A similar report in 2013 found two US commanders accountable for failures to adequately protect the base, but because the attack took place in the British section of Camp Bastion, the committee said British commanders should have had more responsibility.
The Ministry of Defence turned down a request for an interview but commenting on the report's findings, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "The MoD is not complacent and always seeks to capture and learn lessons from current operations.
"Commanders in the field have to prioritise resources against potential threats in theatre and at the time a threat to Camp Bastion was considered to be lower than to other ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) assets in Helmand.
"UK commanders have identified and acted upon all lessons following the attack on Camp Bastion in 2012."
The committee criticised the MoD for not revealing information they requested, specifically details of the security situation in Helmand during the years leading up to the attack.
"The Committee were unimpressed by the evidence from the Chief of Joint Operations, who explained that the number of security incidents was unusually high in Helmand Province in 2012.
"The Committee was told the focus of ISAF commanders had been on security incidents elsewhere in Helmand Province and on threats from insider attack.
"Unfortunately the MoD has declined to provide the Committee with comparable details of the level of security incidents recorded in Helmand for previous years as this information was classified.
"This would have allowed the Committee to make an informed assessment of the relative threat levels in the area at the time."