Sunday, May 12, 2013

Benghazi & The Lack of Military Response

The headline in Wapo yesterday was: "Libya protests prompt U.S. to evacuate diplomats, put troops on alert." In the body of the story, we learn that, in response to potential violence directed at our diplomats, our military has forward deployed several spec ops units. For those of you with no time in the military, let me point out, this is not something special, it is utterly routine. The only thing unusual about this is that it is making the papers.

With that in mind, if we go back to the Benghazi time line, we can see several points that would have led our military to prepare for action. One, it was September 11 - that alone would have led commanders to shorten alert times for quick reaction forces at their disposal. Two, there were huge demonstrations in Cairo that nearly saw our diplomatic post come under attack at least 12 hours before first shots in Benghazi. At that point, QRF forces would have been suited up, locked and loaded, and sitting near an airport tarmac. Aircraft would have been put on alert, loaded with munitions and fuel. Tankers for fuel resupply would have been repositioned if need be. The bottom line, when the Benghazi attack occurred, the military should have been able to respond immediately with a line of assets that would have arrived in Benghazi between two and eight hours after the attack was initiated.

Yet in regards to the terrorist attack at our compound in Benghazi, there is no evidence that a single unit of any sort was triggered. The FEST unit was, inexplicably, put off the table within the first hour of the attack by the White House. The White House wants us to believe that nothing could have been done - no assets were available and that intelligence was insufficient. I am willing to be my last dollar that if you were to ask anyone who has ever served as a combat arms officer, let alone spec ops, if they believed any of that, 99.99% would say no, it is pure bullshit. Moreover, had Obama said to get assets to Benghazi and stop the attack, the military would have moved heaven and earth to make it happen.

The first leg of the Benghazi scandal, the refusal over months to provide increased security in the face of an open and obvious threat, is perhaps the most important leg of the scandal. It shows an administration that completely misunderstands the threat we face from radical Wahhabi Islamists, and indeed, whitewashes Wahabbi Islam to the point of portraying it as benign. That is a major national policy issue. The third leg of the scandal, the cover up, is likewise important because it shows that the administration did not and does not want to have a debate on this existential issue.

Yet the second leg - the refusal to send any military assets to Benghazi - is by far the most damning. Our people were left to die, likely because of domestic political considerations. It is unforgivable. The Chairman of the JCS, Martin Dempsey, testified in February that the military never received a request for help on Sep. 11 or 12, so they never reacted to anything. This claim to utter passivity is just pure bullshit. This is where the House needs to be investigating next. Where they need to start is with General Ham, the former AFRICOM Cdr, as well as reaching out to Gen. Ham's plans officer (J-3), intelligence officer (J-2) and liaisons from the State Dept. and Air Force.

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