View Full Version : Complacency blamed in Kuwait attack

07-12-03, 07:11 AM
July 11, 2003

Complacency blamed in Kuwait attack

By Gidget Fuentes
Associated Press

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Complacency about the threat of terrorism on a Kuwaiti island where U.S. troops were training enabled gunmen to open fire on Marines last year, killing one and injuring another, according to investigators.
Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, who ordered the Marine Corps investigation, blamed the death of Cpl. Antonio R. Sledd on incorrect assumptions about security at the training site and mistakes in military trauma care.

“While it is impossible to say if everything had been done right and in a timely manner that this young Marine would have recovered, I do believe that the chances would have been greatly improved and that recovery was more than a remote possibility,” Conway wrote in his May 25 endorsement of the investigation’s findings.

The Marine Corps released portions of the investigation Thursday to The Associated Press, which requested a copy under the Freedom of Information Act. Portions were deleted for privacy or national security concerns.

The attack on Oct. 8, 2002, came in the early stages of the U.S. military build-up in preparation for the invasion of Iraq.

The Marines were attacked on Faylaka Island, about 12 miles north of Kuwait City. Sledd, a 20-year-old rifleman from Hillsborough, Fla., died several hours after he was shot. Lance Cpl. George R. Simpson, 21, was shot in the left arm.

Marines in the company’s command tent returned fire, killing both attackers. Authorities later identified the shooters as Kuwaiti citizens with ties to Osama bin Laden’s network.

About the same time, other Marines on the island told investigators they came under fire from possibly three other gunmen. Marine Corps investigators believe those men fled the island.

“They were school-trained terrorists,” Marine Col. William Durrett said Thursday. “We think this was a concerted series of attacks.”

The report said Army Central Command, which was responsible for the security of U.S. forces in Kuwait, should have made force protection a greater priority, including staffing a protection office there full time.

Also, Marine Corps officials said that the military hospital in Kuwait City lacked a full surgical staff when Sledd was taken there. A surgical team was doing an appendectomy when he arrived, and officials also suggest the blood supply was limited.

Conway said that all the deficiencies would be corrected. Since the shooting, the Army has staffed its force protection office in Kuwait full time.

Sledd’s twin brother, Mike, a Marine stationed in the Tampa area, said Thursday he was not comfortable talking about the report.

A call to Simpson was not answered Thursday night. His mother, Karin Simpson, said she had not seen a copy of the report and had questions about what happened. But she added that security measures had their limits.

“There’s only so much a human can do to prevent someone who’s utterly determined to hurt someone else,” she said from her home in Dayton, Ohio. “Obviously, these people were suicidal.”

George Simpson is still receiving medical treatment and faces permanent scarring and “lifelong disability” in his arm, his mother said.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.