Setting the record straight on Camp Bastion’s attack


CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – From the moment I got here, it’s clear it was on people’s minds daily.

The Sept. 14 attack on neighboring Camp Bastion rattled many Marines and other coalition forces on this base. While technically a separate base, the two camps share a bus route and relatively easy access. European troops frequently visit the American PX store on Leatherneck, and Americans hop the bus to visit the pizza shop, coffee shop and other amenities on Bastion.

Like many other military journalists, I wrote about the attack on Bastion from my desk in D.C., relying equally on interviews, conventional wisdom about the base and my two previous embedded assignments in Helmand province.

When I arrived, however, I was struck by how much misinformation there was about the attack. For example, it has been reported repeatedly that the two Marine casualties in the battle, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, were killed in the same rocket-propelled grenade explosion. That’s simply not the case, say frustrated Marines who lived through the attack.

In this new story, I’ve attempted to set the record straight about as much of the battle as possible. There are undoubtedly still threads of which I’m not aware, but hopefully the account does justice to the heroic actions of many of those involved in repelling the attack.

These are the reasons journalists need to visit war zones. Sometimes, you have to get off the couch to tell the story right.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. I have family at leatherneck. I greatly appreciate your emphasis on getting out there and getting accurate information. As stories are passed around back at home it’s difficult to filter the facts from storytelling. If we can’t rely on the professionals it’s disheartening

  2. Alot of people the next day were quick to shout about what they had done that night, instead of analyzing and attempting to find out exactly what went wrong. It’s sad that some of the facts got lost in the aftermath. I know for a fact that a British Apache Helo engaged and killed a group of insurgents, and was the first airborne asset to fire that night before handing the fight over to the USMC Helos to conduct joint strikes. A lot of highly effective and professional action took place that night, but lets not forget the real tragedy of what happened. A sad night for all involved.

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