- NYT’s David Brooks: Obama has ‘manhood problem’ in Middle East
- Ted Cruz thanks Obama for denying visas to terrorists
- Survivors recall chaos, fear in Everest avalanche
- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
Pentagon mum on Libya response
A spokesman said the Defense Department is cooperating with the State Department’s review by a blue-ribbon accountability panel.
From the moment at 9:40 p.m. local time (4:40 p.m. EDT) terrorists invaded and set fire to the four-building compound in Benghazi, messages were sent from Libya to the Obama administration describing the all-out assault.
The State Department later provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee a chronology of events during a hearing earlier this month.
The U.S. maintains a NATO naval air station at Sigonella, Sicily, about 480 miles across the Mediterranean from Benghazi. It is a logistics and communications hub, but at times has hosted Navy SEALs and jet fighters.
There are also special operations forces designated for North Africa.
Any military operations in Libya come under the control of U.S. Africa Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Within the command is Special Operations Command-Africa. The Pentagon assigns the 10th Special Forces Group to Africa. Such groups typically include a “commander in-extremis force,” which can be dispatched in an emergency, such as the Benghazi attack.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on whether any combat unit was considered for insertion into Benghazi.
“As for what forces we may have considered for use, we can’t get into those details,” the spokesman told The Washington Times.
“The Department of State is conducting a review of the attacks and the response to them. The DoD is supporting that review, and it would be inappropriate for us at this point to discuss the specific lay-down of forces while that review is ongoing,” the spokesman said.
A defense source said it is possible that Africa Command had no combat forces close enough to aid Americans at the consulate during the attack’s duration.
Charlene Lamb, who heads international programs for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, told the House committee how her personnel had tried to protect the consulate.
The small, combined force proved wholly inadequate to stop invaders who set fire to each building.
By 11 p.m., more brigade members arrived, but the situation remained chaotic, and they returned to their nearby annex. U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens could not be found.
The next morning, more security officers arrived from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. They then came under mortar fire. Libyan security forces arrived to organize a quick retreat in armored cars to the airport.
Stevens, another State Department official, and two former Navy SEALs died during the eight hours of attacks.
Special operations had maintained a unit at the embassy in Tripoli in the form of a site security team. But the State Department withdrew it a month before the Benghazi attack, despite the protests of its leader, Army Lt. Col. Andrew Wood.
Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, asked in a National Review article: Where was the U.S. military?
“Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours,” he wrote. “If the attackers were a mob, as the CIA wrongly speculated, then an F-18 in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella.
“For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve,” Mr. West wrote.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- Hillary Clinton all but erased from tragic story of the attack in Benghazi
- Indiana assured that Pakistani firm working to thwart bomb makers
- Doubts on military's sex assault stats as numbers far exceed those for the U.S.
- Political hunt for sex abusers puts military justice in peril, lawyers say
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- NYT's David Brooks: Obama has 'manhood problem' in Middle East
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Vulnerable Democrats must 'run their own race'
- WILLIAMS: Bill Maher, comedian or bigot?
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.