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No Buck Stops Here

Two weeks ago I commented on the sacking of two United States Generals as a result of a Taliban attack last year which pretty much put a squadron of Marine Corps Harrier jump jets out of action at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. I suggested that it was unlikely that any British officers would suffer a similar fate. According to the Independent on Sunday, not only were none of the British officers responsible for overall security at Camp Bastion fired, they have actually been promoted. In the United States military mistakes and incompetence have consequences – even for those high up the food chain who probably had no direct involvement. US President Harry Truman, supreme commander of the US military, had a sign on his desk reading “The Buck Stops Here”. Someone must be to blame for only 50 British soldiers being asked to guard 37 kilometres of perimeter fencing around Camp Bastion. Someone must be accountable for the refusal to put out more wire around the perimeter after the fence had already been breached three times. Someone decided putting British troops in five of the 24 guard towers would be sufficient. When the attack occurred just over a year ago I warned that it was foolish to underestimate the military capabilities of Terry Taliban. It would seem that it was far easier to get into Camp Bastion than I realised and perhaps I’d over-estimated the Taliban’s abilities. I’m puzzled as to whether the British do not accept that bad mistakes were made or whether they just don’t care. The British squaddies risking their lives in Afghanistan and our allies all deserve better.

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