US Marines were angered by allegations first published in The Washington Post in April that troops from the Pacific island of Tonga were known to fall asleep while on post in the towers at Bastion. However, a US Central Command Memo has found that there was no evidence to suggest that was the case the night of the attack by Taliban insurgents in September 2012 on Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
In fact, the Tongan guards had different guard procedures than the Marines and Tower 17, the one nearest to the breach point that had guards, did not have a good vantage point of it, according to a report in the Marine Corps Times. It states these are among the details outlined in a 32-page U.S. Central Command memo released by the military after Commandant Gen. Jim Amos announced September 30 that two of his general officers had been found at fault for allowing the attack to occur.
The Centcom memo was signed August 19 by Army Lt. Gen. William Garrett and Marine Maj. Gen. Thomas Murray, who oversaw the investigation. It includes a number of relatively unknown details about the attack, including the role of the Tongans.
The memo stated that “Tower 16, which is approximately 150 [meters] southwest of the breach point, was unmanned based upon the tower manning rotation set by the UK commander responsible for force protection on Camp Bastion.”
Tower 17, the one nearest to the breach point that had guards, did not have a good vantage point of it. It would have been “difficult to observe an approaching attacker who was attempting to conceal his movement, even on a night with better illumination, and even if the guard was constantly scanning back and forth with a night-vision device,” the generals found.
Tongans on point
Marines were angered by allegations first published in The Washington Post in April that troops from the Pacific island of Tonga were known to fall asleep while on post in the towers at Bastion. However, Garrett and Murray found that there was no evidence to suggest that was the case the night of the attack.
“The Tongan guards had different guard procedures than the Marines, and they stayed in the towers for longer periods of time,” Garrett and Murray said in an executive summary of their investigation.
“Typically, two Tongans were on duty in the top of the tower, and two Tongans were off-duty in the bottom of the tower, which also served as their living and sleeping area,” they continued. “Marines typically ran on the gravel road near the Camp Bastion towers, so Marines without knowledge of the living and working arrangement in the guard towers may have misinterpreted and misreported what they observed the Tongans doing in and around the lower level of the towers.”
The investigation found that top commanders at Bastion and Leatherneck knew of the concerns about the Tongans but were not concerned because they were aware of their working arrangements in the towers.
Dan Lamothe a staff writer at the Marine Corps Times reports new details of the attack. See: 10 new details about the deadly attack on Camp Bastion