Prince Harry was put at risk from the Taliban because “complacent” British commanders failed to stop them storming the Afghan base where he was serving, according to a report by Commons Defence Select Committee.
The report said that half the Guard Towers at Camp Bastion were left unmanned on the night of the attack, allowing 15 insurgents to enter the base, kill two US marines, wound 16 other soldiers and destroy six Harriet jets.
The report concludes that the “inadequate” measures taken by military commanders responsible for the security of troops let them exposed to “unnecessary” risk.
Prince Harry was on tour of duty at the base at the time as an Apache helicopter pilot.
The report also said that insufficient attention had been given to the fundamental requirement of defending the base, and condemned the decision to leave Tower 16 unmanned, saying it “contributed directly to the failure to detect the insurgents at an early stage.”
The committee also criticised the decision to ignore poppy cultivation outside the camp, which they say gave the Taliban cover to scope the base.
After cutting the perimeter wire, the insurgents destroyed six Harriet jets before engaging in a five-hour firefight. The attack took place on the darkest night of the year.
Fourteen of the 15 insurgents were killed and the other was injured.
There had been speculation at the time that the Taliban had been trying to kill Prince Harry, but US military documents revealed that the prince had slept through the attack.
Andy McNab, a former sergeant in Britain’s elite Special Air Service (SAS), wrote in the Sun that “Camp Bastion breeds complacency due to its massive size. So many nations and so many organisations use it as a base. In this set-up there’s always a danger something becomes someone else’s responsibility.”
He added: “There is a contrast between the Helmand base, home to almost 30,000 troops, and small Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan where every precaution is taken to prevent attacks.
“Commanders in Bastion are often focused on corporate matters such as aircraft parts and camp speed limits.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “The MoD is not complacent and always seeks to capture and learn lessons from current operations. UK commanders have identified and acted upon all lessons following the attack on Camp Bastion in 2012.”