So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi, Part II?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

Prior: So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

The Pentagon has responded to the question of assets available to respond to the debacle at Benghazi.

Among the units ordered by Panetta on the night of the attack to Sicily,  which is less than 500 miles from Libya,were two special operations teams that were moved to  Sigonella.

As previously reported, one of the units came from a U.S. military base in “Central Europe.” And Little disclosed that Panetta also ordered another team from the United States to head to Sigonella.   Little refused to describe what kind of unit was sent from the U.S., though it was presumably a special operations team trained for hostage rescues.

Little said both the units “did not arrive until after the entire sequence of events was complete. … They were in Sigonella many hours after the attacks.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that it can take hours for troops to be organized and transported to where they might be used.  He added that at the time they were ordered to move, policy makers  ”did not know when the attacks would end.”  Little said that, in theory, a hostage situation in Benghazi could have lasted for days.

“We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”

[ ... ]

Little reaffirmed that no other American aircraft were involved over Libya the night of the attack beyond the unarmed surveillance drone that arrived 90 minutes into the attack.  As for reports that an AC-130 gunship could have been dispatched over Libya at the time of the attack,  Little was clear that “there was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi” that night.

Yet astute commenter Šťoural (Jan Špaček, Czechoslovakia) gives this summary of assets via e-mail.

1) NAS Sigonella: NAS Sigonella supports a rotational VP squadron, an HC squadron, C-2, C-9, and C-130 detachments, shore-based fleet aircraft, transient NATO aircraft and U.S. Air Force transient aircraft.  Look at Google Earth Photo 17th March 2011-four P3C Orion, 37°24’27.89″N,14°54’49.81″E

CTF-67 is a subordinate command to Commander, U.S. SIXTH Fleet and maintains tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons. When assigned to CTF-67, P-3C Orion aircraft provide the Fleet with essential information in the European and African Areas of Responsibility.  The Mediterranean maritime patrol force for these operations included ten P-3Cs, five of the AIP variant, and 14 crews from Patrol Squadrons 1, 4, 5 and 10 from Naval Air Stations Whidbey Island, Barbers Point, Jacksonville, and Brunswick, respectively.

2) P-3C AIP Orion capabilities, Orion is much better then drone Predator and Reaper.

The P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) Hunting terrorists in the peaks of the Hindu Kush? Spotting for special operations troops in Iraq? Not the stereotypical MPA missions.

Not only has the Navy’s front-line MPA been venturing far inland; it has been an indispensable surveillance platform in the global war on terrorism, a sensor and weapon platform that has impressed operational commanders with its high degree of utility and versatility.

3) CIF,probably C-company, 1st Bn, 10thSFG at least be able to make CASEVAC and NEO-non-combatant evacuation operation from Benghazi Airport.

Example operation CIF

I had also mentioned that Marine Force Recon should have been available at Sigonella.  And all of this brings up an important point.  I think I have made a mistake in framing the question so broadly, i.e., what assets were available to the DoD to assist at Benghazi?  One important but easily overlooked exigency in the DoD rebuttal above is this idea of a hostage situation.  It is mentioned at least twice in the ABC News article.

The Department of Defense rebuttal answers nothing, but adds to the list of problems.  The proper way to frame this discussion is this: What assets existed at Sigonella that night (Delta Force, SEAL Teams, Marine Force Recon, MPs, cooks, administrative staff, etc.)?  This report leads to more questions, such as did the National Security Counsel or Pentagon war game this scenario in such a manner that precluded the consideration of assets available at Sigonella because they weren’t specifically related to the scenario being gamed (e.g., a hostage situation)?  Why weren’t forces of any kind sent to relieve the poor souls in Benghazi?

On to the recent and very important Fox News report from the ground in Benghazi.

As details emerge of serious security issues before the attack on Sept. 11, Fox News is also beginning to hear more frustration from sources both on the ground in Benghazi and in the U.S. Multiple British and American sources insist there were other capabilities in the region and are mystified why none were used. Fox News was told there were not only armed drones that monitor Libyan chemical weapon sites in the area, but also F-18′s, AC-130 aircraft and even helicopters that could have been dispatched in a timely fashion.

British intelligence sources said that unarmed drones routinely flew over Benghazi every night in flight patterns and that armed drones which fly over chemical sites, some a short flight from Benghazi, “were always said to be on call.” American sources confirmed this and questioned “why was a drone armed only with a camera dispatched?”

Another source added, “Why would they put a ragtag team together in Tripoli as first responders? This is not even what they do for a living. We had a first responder air base in Italy almost the same distance away.” Despite the team arriving from Tripoli that night, sources said sufficient American back-up never came.

British sources on the ground in Benghazi said they are extremely frustrated by the attack and are still wondering why they weren’t called for help. “We have more people on the ground here than the Americans and I just don’t know why we didn’t get the call?” one said.

Both American and British sources said, at the very least, the security situation on the ground and the lack of proper response were the result of “complete incompetence.” The covert team that came in from Tripoli was held up at the Benghazi airport for more than three hours by Libyan officials. Sources said the team notified officials in Washington that they were being delayed within 30 minutes of their arrival.

They also point out that these questions “don’t even address the military capabilities of our United Nations ally Turkey, who (has) forces available a similarly short flight away.” Fox News has learned that Turkey had a number of embassy staff in town the night of the attack and that the Turkish consul general met with Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi the night he and the three other Americans were killed.

One source asked, “Were the Turks not warned? What forces were available from our ally Turkey? Especially since they had officials there in Benghazi also and had to be concerned … and where was the U.N. in all of this?”

The Pentagon answers don’t even approach closure on this issue.  Their responses have only raised more questions, and much more work needs to be done on this.

Prior: So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

See also: John Jay



  • Davod

    “Why weren’t forces of any kind sent to relieve the poor souls in Benghazi?”

    After the attack, why no effort to secure the consulate long enough to destroy or remove sensitive material.

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  • http://www.varifrank.com Frank Martin

    Q: Where was the Navy?

    USS Ponce and USS Kersarge were on station off the coast of Libya during the overthrow of Ghadaffi, so what ships were in the Med during the first week of September. Did the State deparment and the Defense department not have contingency plans in place in the event that the embassies of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia were overrun?

  • Obama’s Speech Coach

    Barry is seriously offended that any of you would think he had anything to do with this Ben Ghazi fellow. He was seen by many credible witnesses in the USA the whole time.

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  • TS Alfabet

    And I will ask again and again: why the hell was the Turkish General Consul able to freely transit from the U.S. consulate in Benghazi after meeting with Amb. Stevens less than an hour before the attack began? What did HE know and when did he know it?

  • Šťoural

    USN:
    CENTCOM,5th Fleet
    -Carrier Battle Groups Enterprise&Eisenhower-Air Support Afghanistan or freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz(i.e.
    -Amphibious Ready group Iwo Jima/24th MEU-in support of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden or bilateral exercise

    PACOM,7th Fleet
    -ARG Peleliu/15th MEU

    EUCOM,6th Fleet
    -USS Laboon (DDG-58)-The Strait of Gibraltar-1600 miles from Benghazi
    -USS McFaul (DDG-74)-Suoda Bay,Island of Crete-400 miles
    I do not know the rest.Probably in the Eastern Mediterranean,surveillance of Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel or Operation Active Endeavour.

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  • Anonymous

    Force Recon was in Eastern Africa (HQ in Sigonella) doing host nation training. On 11SEP they were on standby, sitting on a runway waiting for choppers to take them in. The choppers never came. These men went through a very thorough urban combat pre-deployment package and were more than capable of a heliborne raid. However, there is the question of refueling(24th MEU in Gulf of Aden had 2 dedicated C-130 refuelers, along with V-22′s).

    Problem: If the Ospreys would have taken off from the Iwo Jima, a direct flight to Benghazi would have taken ~7.5+ hours, straight line with refueling depending on pos of the ARG)

  • Pingback: Al Jazeera report on 9/11/12 says the video sparked Benghazi attack - Page 7 - PeachParts Mercedes ShopForum

  • Conroy Biggins

    Do any of you understand the logistics involved in deploying troops? There were two special ops teams that arrived after the people were already dead. This article speaks of P3s. Do you know what a P3 is? It’s primarily an anti sub platform. They are full from stem to stern with electronics. How many troops could you have fit in one? 12? Maybe. They are talking about landing at Benghazi airport, driving inland, on foot, into God knows what, with no armor. No back up. No plan of any kind. Ever heard of Blackhawk down? Armed drones? How would they have saved those guys lives? F18s? You think turkey was going to basicly invade another country to save 4 Americans just because we snap our fingers? Even if they would have that help wouldn’t have materialized till long after our people were dead. This isn’t Rambo. This is the real world. Things take time. It would have been stupid to rush in blind and risk many many more lives.


You are currently reading "So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi, Part II?", entry #9372 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Department of Defense,Libya and was published November 3rd, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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