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Because there was no U.S. mission in Benghazi in 2011, there was no budget request for one. State Department officials were paying for security in Benghazi by taking money from other parts of the security budget — cutting other embassies’ budgets, in other words.

These temporary funding arrangements had “detrimental effects on efforts to improve security in Benghazi,” the report concludes, noting that officials could have made a special request to Congress to reprogram money from elsewhere.

The report also states that there did not appear to be contingency plans to get military personnel, planes or other assets to Benghazi in the event of an attack on U.S. facilities there.

As a result, U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which is based in Stuttgart, Germany, had nothing that could reach Benghazi in time, and neither did the neighboring U.S. European Command.

“We responded very quickly,” Africom spokesman Maj. Robert A. Firman told The Washington Times on Monday. “It was just a matter of the distances involved.”

Within minutes of the start of the attack, he said, a surveillance drone was deployed over the site.

“Africom was in a heightened state of alert,” Maj. Firman said, adding that there was no warning of any impending attack in Benghazi.

The Senate report notes that Africom lacked a commander’s in-extremis force — a small contingent of special operations troops that can be deployed at short notice.

Maj. Firman said Africom had use of such a force, under an agreement with European Command, but the force was conducting training in Central Europe on Sept. 11. He said Africom got its own in-extremis force Oct. 1.

A Pentagon timeline released earlier this year shows that special teams of Marines stationed in Europe were ordered to Libya about 2? hours after the assault began, but they did not arrive until the evening after the attack.

Critics have asked why strike jets were not deployed from southern Europe to provide air support during the assault, which unfolded in two stages several hours apart. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, has called for the Pentagon to launch an internal investigation, as the State Department has done.

The report suggests, without directly mentioning classified CIA activities in Benghazi, that Africom did not know the full extent of the agency’s presence in the town, which could have hampered rescue efforts.

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, Africom’s commander, “did not have complete visibility of the extent and number of government personnel in Benghazi in the event that [an evacuation] was required,” the report states. “If sufficient time had been available for such an evacuation, we are concerned that this limitation could have impeded Africom’s ability to respond and fulfill its mission responsibility.”

Maj. Firman declined to comment on intelligence matters.

Altering the talking points

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