Afghanistan - Camp Bastion Attack - Defence Committee Contents

1  Introduction


1. On 14 September 2012, at around 2200 local time, 15 heavily-armed Taliban insurgents dressed in US Army uniforms cut the perimeter wire on the eastern perimeter of Camp Bastion, Afghanistan and commenced a coordinated attack on the Camp Bastion airfield. The ensuing engagement with ISAF forces which lasted into the early hours of 15 September resulted in the deaths of US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Raible and Sergeant Bradley Atwell, the wounding of eight other US personnel, eight UK personnel and one civilian contractor, the destruction of six US Harrier jets, and significant damage to several other aircraft, vehicles and the infrastructure of the base.

2. Quick Reaction Forces, supported by other US and UK personnel and helicopters, killed 14 of the Taliban attackers and wounded the remaining attacker, who was detained and interrogated.

3. We pay tribute to the bravery of all those ISAF personnel who engaged the enemy during the attack on Camp Bastion that night. We express our deepest sympathy to the families of Lieutenant Colonel Raible and Sergeant Atwell for their profound loss.


4. On 30 September 2013, General James Amos, US Marine Corps commandant,announced that following a review of the attack, focused on determining accountability, he had asked for the retirement of Major General Charles "Mark" Gurganus, who was commander of Regional Command Southwest (RC(SW)) in Afghanistan, and Major General Gregg Sturdevant, who was commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD) at the time of the attack.[1]

5. A redacted version of the US Department of the Army report ("the US report")of the investigation into the attack was published on the internet in October 2013 along with a series of associated exhibits and enclosures.[2]

Our inquiry

6. We launched an inquiry to examine the events surrounding the insurgent attack on Camp Bastion of 14-15 September 2012 and the subsequent response from the UK and ISAF. Our purpose was to establish the authority, responsibility and accountability within the UK chain of command for security and force protection at Camp Bastion at the time of the attack.

7. We held an oral evidence session on 17 December 2013 in which we took evidence from the Chief of Joint Operations and senior officials from the Ministry of Defence. Following the public evidence session, the meeting continued in private in order to examine details of the attack which could not be discussed in public for security reasons. A redacted transcript of this private evidence session has been published and is referred to in this report.

8. Following the evidence session, the MoD released a redacted copy of the Operational Learning Account and After Action Report (OLAAAR) produced within 48 hours of the attack.[3] We asked the Secretary of State for Defence for access to a copy of the subsequent Administrative Review conducted by Lieutenant General Bradshaw, then Deputy Commander ISAF, but this was refused on the grounds that it was owned by ISAF.

9. Members of the Committee were able to view the location of the attack during a visit to Camp Bastion in October 2013. Members visited guard towers close to the point where the perimeter fence was breached and spoke to RAF Regiment personnel. This gave us a better understanding of the topography between the perimeter and the airfield and the extent of the security measures now in place.

1  "Two generals asked to retire in wake of Bastion attack", USA Today, 30 September 2013 Back

2   US Department of the Army Report, Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 Investigation of the 14-15 September 2012 Attack on the Camp Bastion, Leatherneck, and Shorabak (BLS) Complex, Helmand Province, Afghanistan (redacted version), 19 August 2013  Back

3   Ministry of Defence, Operational Learning Account and After Action Report (redacted version), 16 September 2012  Back

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Prepared 16 April 2014