4 years, 7 months ago
From the AP:
U.S. officials say some 50 Marines are being sent to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities in the aftermath of an attack in the eastern city of Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three American members of his staff.
The Marines are members of an elite group known as a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, whose role is to respond on short notice to terrorism threats and to reinforce security at U.S. embassies. They operate worldwide.
The officials who disclosed the plan to send the Marines spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
There’s that word I don’t like again: “elite.” You can disagree if you wish, but I think this is wrongheaded. We don’t need “elite” forces, any more than we need “elite” SWAT team members when there’s a call for help in the typical American city, any more than we need “elite” law enforcement officers to come and rescue us in the case of threats rather than defend ourselves.
We need firepower. We need an infantry mentality. My son observed one day to me that with a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner laying down area suppressive fire, the leader with M203 40mm grenade launcher under his M4, and two other Marines with M4s or M16s providing defense of the SAW and leader, the typical Marine Corps infantry fire team can lay down an awful lot of effective fire, especially when conducting squad rushes or room clearing. Given three fire teams in a squad, I would think that a few squads of Marine infantry would be very capable of providing the necessary security.
With our anemic and effeminate foreign policy, we’ve ceded both Egypt and Libya to the Islamists, so it’s better to bring the Americans home. It’s done. Our Middle East policy has been a failure, top to bottom, side to side, front to back. But if you must keep a staff there, the next time Islamists try to suffocate an American diplomat, let the infantry lay down enough fire to kill them all as quickly as possible. It matters not how many there are at the gate. If they’re there, they are a threat. Marine infantry tactics to deal with a threat is to kill the threat with extreme violence. They’ll think before trying that one again.
We don’t need precise elitism. We need firepower if we’re going to place diplomats in foreign countries that we intend to cede to the Islamists.
UPDATE #1: John Jay has some thoughts.
UPDATE #2: DirtyMick, who is a former employee of the DoD, brings us this report from Reuters-Africa:
Accounts of the mayhem at the U.S. consulate, where the ambassador and a fourth American died after a chaotic protest over a film insulting to Islam, remain patchy. But two Libyan officials, including the commander of a security force which escorted the U.S. rescuers, said a later assault on a supposedly safe refuge for the diplomats appeared professionally executed.
Miscommunication which understated the number of American survivors awaiting rescue – there were 37, nearly four times as many as the Libyan commander expected – also meant survivors and rescuers found themselves short of transport to escape this second battle, delaying an eventual dawn break for the airport.
Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit was ordered by Libya’s authorities to meet an eight-man force at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, the ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.
“I really believe that this attack was planned,” he said, adding to suggestions by other Libyan officials that at least some of the hostility towards the Americans was the work of experienced combatants. “The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries.”
[ … ]
Of the eight American troops who had come from Tripoli, one was killed and two were wounded, Obeidi said. A Libyan deputy interior minister said a second American was also killed in the attack on the safe house. It was not clear if this was a diplomat or one of the consulate’s original security detail.
“It began to rain down on us,” Obeidi told Reuters, describing the moment the attack began – just as the Libyan security force was starting up the 10 pickup trucks and sedans they had brought to ferry the Americans to the airport.
“About six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa,” he said. “During this firing, one of the marines whom I had brought with me was wounded and fell to the ground.
“As I was dragging the wounded marine to safety, some marines who were located on the roof of the villa as snipers shouted and the rest of the marines all hit the ground.
“A mortar hit the side of the house. One of the marines from the roof went flying and fell on top of us.”
Read the entire report. Consider the things I said above in light of the facts that we can glean from this Reuters report. First, this was a complex, well-coordinated attack. Second, it involved machine guns, RPGs and mortars. Third, only a squad was included in the QRF that responded to the event. Fourth, they clearly weren’t prepared for either the initial assault or the evacuation. Fifth, more men toting M4s wouldn’t have been an adequate reponse, and clearly aren’t adequate for future consulate security if we intend to be in this part of the world. A well-placed mortar or RPG beats an M4 every time. Finally, the Marines had shooters (probably designated marksmen, or guys who have been through DM training), and this wasn’t adequate. There is only so much that good shooters can do.