The spin machine of the mainstream media is struggling to distract us from more of President Obama’s bungling in the Middle East. It has been reported that last friday tow U.S. service members were killed in southern Afghanistan by Taliban “militants” dressed as U.S. soldiers. Some news outlets carried the story as a tie-in to the fact that Britain’s Prince Harry is currently stationed at that airbase as an AH-64 Apache pilot. They informed the world breathlessly that the Royal was never in any danger – and then took the time to remind us of the Las Vegas party pictures that surfaced several weeks ago from the Princes pre-deployment bash.
The story that the majority of the mainstream media decided was unworthy of reporting was the true scale of the attack on Camp Bastion. Approximately 15 “insurgents” dressed in U.S. military uniforms penetrated the defenses of the airbase while armed with automatic weapons, rockets, and suicide vests. Moving in three teams and in a well-coordinated attack, they managed to wound 9 NATO personnel and kill two United States Marines – Lt. Col. Chris Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell.
Tragic as the loss of life is, much more far-reaching are the consequences of what equipment was destroyed. The attackers were able to reach the flightline and destroy 6 and severely damage 2 of the 10 the Harrier jump jets there. All of the aircraft belonged to the recently arrived Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211). We are assured by the ISAF however that this would result in “no impact to ground or air operations from Camp Bastion.”
Costing upwards of $30 million each, the financial aspect of this attack are quite stark in light of the Obama administrations dithering over the coming budget sequestration of defense spending. The Harriers are slated to be replaced by F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters over the next 15 years. However, while those replacements dribble in, the ground loss on Friday represents 1/15th of the Marine’s worldwide Harrier inventory. Even if aircraft are shifted to replace those lost at Camp Bastion, the number of aircraft able to be deployed to other areas has been significantly impacted. Yet the press wants to tell us that the current problems in the Middle East at large and Afghanistan in particular are the result of Mitt Romney’s “gaffes”. Welcome to bizzar-o-world.