So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

The Captain’s Journal – BY Herschel Smith

Just so, and good find, that one.  But on another front, Bill Kristol covers the various finger pointing within the administration, just as do I.  But then there is this pregnant statement along with the link.

In response perhaps to the questions raised by Petraeus and Panetta, there now appears to be an attempt by some defense officials to suggest there really wasn’t much more that could have been done on September 11, given limitations on the assets and capabilities available.

The link takes you to an article at AEI by Paul Wolfowitz.  Now comes the interesting part.  I need to cite at length.

From what I can determine from talking with someone who has spoken directly with key general officers and others involved in the US response to the Benghazi attacks, it would appear that – contrary to Panetta’s “basic principle” – the US did almost everything possible to protect our people once the attacks had started, though not in advance:

The Consulate was overrun in a matter of minutes, before any help was possible.

A team that appears to have been CIA personnel deployed quickly (and bravely) from the Annex to the Consulate and rescued everyone they found alive there. (It’s not clear whether Ambassador Stevens had already been taken by Libyans to the hospital or whether they simply failed to find him.)

A mainly CIA response force deployed quickly from Tripoli to reinforce the Annex and facilitate its successful evacuation.

Decision makers in Washington appear to have been leaning forward, as they should have been. The military’s most capable rescue force, based on the East Coast, was deployed immediately (something that is very rarely done), but – given the distances involved – arrived at Sigonella only after the crisis was over.

Also, the  European command (EUCOM) deployed its number one counter terrorism force, which was training in central Europe, as quickly as possible, but it arrived in Sigonella after the evacuation of the Annex was complete.

Other special forces deployed to Sigonella but arrived on the 12th after it was too late to make a difference in Benghazi.

There was no AC-130 gunship in the region.

The only drone available in Libya was an unarmed surveillance drone which was quickly moved from Darna to Benghazi, but the field of view of these drones is limited and, in any case, this one was not armed.

The only other assets immediately available were F-16 fighter jets based at Aviano, Italy. These aircraft might have reached Benghazi while the fight at the Annex was still going on, but they would have had difficulty pinpointing hostile mortar positions or distinguishing between friendly and hostile militias in the midst of a confused firefight in a densely populated residential area where there would have been a high likelihood of civilian casualties. While two more Americans were tragically killed by a mortar strike on the Annex, it’s not clear that deploying F-16’s would have prevented that. In any case, the decision not to do so was made by the tactical commander, General Ham, as it should have been.

Let’s leave aside my personal feelings towards Wolfowitz (he helped to begin Operation Iraqi Freedom with too few men to tamp down the inevitable insurgency, thus leading to Phase II and III of OIF).  I don’t have much fondness for him.

But back to what he said, this is a remarkable claim.  According to this claim, the Africa command (based in Europe) had no assets to which it could turn.  None.  Contrary to reports (that I have cited), there were no Delta operators at Sigonella.  There was no AC-130, there wasn’t even Marine Force Recon, again, contrary to published reports that I have cited.

They were apparently all in the field, deployed across Africa.  No one was available.  There were no air assets available to assist the poor souls at Benghazi.  Not even an MP or cook could have responded from Sigonella.  The base (the American side of it, anyway) was a ghost town.  The closest asset was … the Eastern coast of the United States.

I don’t believe it.  I’m not saying that I don’t believe Wolfowitz, but I don’t believe his sources.  How the hell does one run Africa command with no assets at your disposal?  Besides, this answer is too easy to produce and then move on after the furor dies down.

This leads me to the final point.  There are so many reports – many of them false by design – that the picture is worse by the day.  What happened at Benghazi happened.  The horrible picture developing before our eyes is one of obfuscation, dishonesty, diversion, lies and excuses.

Here’s a note to the DoD and State Department.  Listen very carefully.  Wolfowitz says “it would appear.”  That’s not even nearly good enough.  We won’t accept appearances, or anonymous sources.  There is a paper trail of deployments, locations, arming orders, force sizes, and so on and so forth.  There is yet another paper trail of orders, requests, directives and other communications that fateful night.

We won’t stop until it is all public and assessed by all of us.  We will get it, eventually.  We will all see it.  We will know who did what, who said what, what assets were where, who lied, who equivocated, and who came clean.  We will name names.

The players who have any integrity left should come clean now and spill everything.  It will go better for everyone in the long run.  But it won’t change the facts.  And the facts will be found out.  That’s our promise.

LB Comment:  I concur with the Captain’s analysis above.  My understanding is the second Drone came from NAS Sig?  I have spend many, many hours on alert status in Avaino and I can personally attest that it does not take very long to launch when necessary.

Assuming we had birds on alert (it was Sep 11 after all) with correct pod configuration, or once mission capable, why not send the birds from Aviano directly to Benghazi?  Data link to the on-site Drone system (or other air assets), perform their mission and back for dinner eating pizza in Pordenone?

SNIPER POD

Mission
Sniper pods provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilized surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. The Sniper pod enables aircrews to detect and identify weapon caches and individuals carrying armaments, all outside jet noise ranges. Superior imagery, a video datalink and J-series-weapons-quality coordinates provided by the Sniper pod enable rapid target decisions and keep aircrews out of threat ranges.

High resolution imagery for non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) enables the Sniper pod to play a major role in Air Force operations in theater, providing top cover for ground forces, as well as increasing the safety of civilian populations.

The Sniper pod is combat proven on U.S. Air Force and international F-15E, F-16 (all blocks), B-1, A-10C, Harrier GR7/9 and CF-18 aircraft. Lockheed Martin is also in the final stages of integrating the Sniper pod on the B-52. The pod’s plug-and-play capability facilitates moving the pod across platforms without changing software.

Features
Sniper pods include a high definition mid-wave forward looking infrared (FLIR), dual-mode laser, HDTV, laser spot tracker, laser marker, video data link, and a digital data recorder. Advanced image processing algorithms, combined with rock steady stabilization techniques, provide cutting-edge performance.

The pod features automatic tracking and laser designation of tactical size targets via real-time imagery presented on cockpit displays. The Sniper pod is fully compatible with the latest J-series munitions for precision weapons delivery against multiple moving and fixed targets.

Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement (ATP-SE) design upgrades include enhanced sensors, advanced processors, and automated NTISR modes.

The Sniper pod’s architecture and modular design permits true two-level maintenance, eliminating costly intermediate-level support. Automated built-in test permits flightline maintainers to isolate and replace an LRU in under 20 minutes. Spares are ordered through a user-friendly website offering in-transit visibility to parts shipment.

The Sniper pod’s modular design also offers an affordable road map for modernizing and enhancing precision targeting capabilities for U.S. Air Force and coalition partner aircraft.

Background
Sniper was competitively selected to be the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Targeting Pod in August 2001. The contract provided for pods and associated equipment, spares, and support of the F-16 and F-15E aircraft for the total force, active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard. The Sniper pod first deployed overseas on F-15E aircraft in January 2005.

The Sniper pod was originally required for use on U.S. Air Force F-16, F-15E, and A-10 aircraft. It deployed on the F-16 in 2006, on the B-1 in 2008 in response to an urgent operational need, and on the A-10C in 2010. It is also in the final stages of integration on the B-52.

On Sept. 30, 2010, Lockheed Martin received the 60-percent majority contract to continue providing Sniper pods in support of the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Targeting Pod – Sensor Enhancement program.

AIR FORCE DISTRIBUTED COMMON GROUND SYSTEM

Mission
The Air Force Distributed Common Ground System, or AF DCGS, weapon system is the service’s premier globally networked intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance weapon system. The DCGS produces intelligence information collected by the U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator.

Features
The AF DCGS is currently composed of 45 geographically separated, networked sites. The distributed ground and mission sites are a mixture of active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units working as an integrated combat capability.

The individual weapon system nodes are regionally focused and paired with their corresponding Air Force component numbered air force to provide critical processing, analysis and dissemination of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, data collected within the numbered air force’s area of responsibility.

However, globally networked capabilities enable the weapon system to execute missions beyond their area of responsibility. Each weapon system is able to accept data from any U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper or MQ-1 Predator operating anywhere in the world and analyze and disseminate accurate and timely intelligence globally.

The weapon system employs global communications architecture to connect multiple intelligence platforms to the Distributed Common Ground System weapon system. The 480th ISR Wing’s Operations Center ensures global synchronization for all the sites.

In daily coordination with weapon system liaison officers embedded in the theaters’ command and control elements, the 480th ISR wing operations center relies on detailed knowledge of dynamic PED capacities to operationally align regional AF DCGS expertise with specific theater collection priorities and assets. This ensures intelligence missions are executed in keeping with the joint force commander and the joint force component commander-ISR apportionment and allocation to fully satisfy joint and coalition intelligence needs.

AF DCGS currently participates in operations throughout the world including those led by United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Southern Command operations throughout the world.

Background
The current AF DCGS concept evolved from many Air Force ISR predecessor programs dating back to the 1960’s. The first AF DCGS weapon system, called the Deployable Ground Station-1, or DGS-1, began operations in July 1994. A few short weeks later, the DGS-1 weapon system deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of military operations in Haiti in August 1994.

The DCGS has evolved from a deployable system into a true distributed ISR operations capability integrating platforms and crews to provide critical intelligence to combat forces down to the warfighters at the lowest level. Over the years, the AF DCGS weapon system and its predecessor systems have engaged in ISR operations in every major conflict that has had U.S. involvement.

Active-duty systems are assigned to Air Force ISR Agency, with Air National Guard units assigned to their respective states until activated by presidential order. Additional ANG sites are being developed and going into operation. The 480th ISR Wing at Langley AFB, Va., is responsible for executing AF DCGS operations worldwide, including many of the 50 states.

Exclusive: Classified cable warned consulate couldn’t withstand ‘coordinated attack’

Fox News – By Catherine Herridge

The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.

Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.

“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.

According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi …

Video:  Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Rep. Jason Chaffetz ‘On the Record’

Al-Qaeda Linked Radical Was Hired By Obama Administration to Run Security at Tripoli Embassy

The Gateway Pundit – Posted by Jim Hoft

Leaked security documents reveal the Obama Administration hired a top al-Qaeda brother to run security at the US embassy in Tripoli.

Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack
reported, via Jihad Watch:

A treasure trove of secret documents has been obtained by a Libyan source who says that secularists in his country are increasingly wanting to see Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama on November 6th. This charge is being made despite Muslim Brotherhood losses in Libyan elections last July which resulted in victory for the secularists. One of those documents may help explain this sentiment.

It shows that in supporting the removal of Gadhafi, the Obama administration seemed to sign on to an arrangement that left forces loyal to Al-Qaeda in charge of security at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli from 2011 through at least the spring of 2012.

The National Transitional Council, which represented the political apparatus that opposed Gadhafi in 2011 and served as the interim government after his removal, made an extremely curious appointment in August of 2011. That appointment was none other than Abdel Hakim Belhaj, an Al-Qaeda ally and ‘brother’. Here is a translation of the letter:

National Transitional Council – Libya
8/30/11

Code: YGM-270-2011

Mr. Abdel Hakim Al-Khowailidi Belhaj

Greetings,

We would like to inform you that you have been commissioned to the duties and responsibilities of the military committee of the city of Tripoli. These include taking all necessary procedures to secure the safety of the Capital and its citizens, its public and private property, and institutions, to include all international embassies. To coordinate with the local community of the city of Tripoli and the security assembly and defense on a national level.

Mustafa Muhammad Abdul Jalil

President, National Transitional Council – Libya

Official Seal of National Transitional Council

Bomb targets U.S. mission in Libya’s Benghazi

Chicago Tribune (Reuters) By Mohammed Al-Tommy – June 6, 2012

BENGHAZI, Libya, June 6 (Reuters) – A bomb exploded outside the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi overnight, an attack that could be retaliation for the killing,
in a U.S. drone strike, of al Qaeda’s Libyan second-in-command.

An improvised explosive device was dropped from a passing vehicle onto the road outside the mission, in an upmarket area of central Benghazi. It exploded moments after, slightly
damaging the building’s gate, U.S. and Libyan officials said.

Washington had confirmed a few hours before the attack that a U.S.-operated drone had killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan-born cleric and senior al Qaeda operative, in Pakistan.

The U.S. State Department said it had asked Libyan authorities to increase security around U.S. facilities.

“We deplore the attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news briefing.

Toner said a local guard reported that an attack was underway against one of the Benghazi compound’s perimeter walls and warned diplomatic staff to take cover.

The bombing will revive concerns about the lack of security in Libya, where last year Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in an uprising supported by NATO air power.

The fragile government is still struggling to restore stability after the revolt and arms and explosives looted from Gaddafi’s arsenals are easily available.

Toner said Washington was awaiting results from an investigation by the Libyan government, but had no reason to suspect the attack was retaliation for Libi’s killing.

Some security analysts disagreed: “The possibility that this act took place because of what happened to Abu Yahya is, in my personal opinion, a very strong one,” said Noman Benotman, a Libyan former Islamist who is now an expert on militant groups.

“Al Qaeda loyalists maybe wanted to deliver a message to the U.S. …to say enough is enough,” he said.

From Benghazi to Aleppo

Gates of Vienna – by Baron Bodissey

Now that the Benghazi debacle has become more fully exposed, it is clear that one of Ambassador Stevens’ major tasks was to collect weapons supplied by the United States and its allies to the Libyan mujahideen, and send them to the Syrian mujahideen, possibly with the collusion of the Turkish government.

The following news report from Russian TV discusses the provenance of these weapons, which are being amassed in Syria by Islamic fundamentalists — including Al Qaeda affiliates — to bring down the Assad regime and install a Salafist government.

Video

Transcript:

00:01 The Russian General Command has stated today that Syrian opposition is using weapons
00:05 of foreign origin, including American. According to the head of the Command Nicolay Makarov
00:10 the opponents of the Assad regime are in possession of transportable rocket launchers,
00:15 including American Stinger missiles. The administration of Barack Obama denies the accusation that it arms the rebels.
00:20 Nevertheless, the Russian military wants to determine how the rebels came into possession of such powerful arsenal,
00:25 as according to the decision of OSCE, the sale and supply of rocket launching devices is strictly controlled.
00:30 Member States that support the treaty including USA have the responsibility to deal with only legitimate state governments.

U.S. yanks support for Syrian opposition group, warns of extremist takeover of uprising

WaPo – By Anne Gearan,

ZAGREB, Croatia — The Obama administration on Wednesday renounced the proclaimed leaders of the Syrian political opposition and said any group seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad must reject attempts by extremists to “hijack” a legitimate revolution.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Syrian National Council, or SNC, should no longer be considered the “visible leader” of the opposition. That made official what has been the increasingly obvious sidelining of an opposition group led mostly by middle-age Syrian expatriates…

The United States is supporting new opposition leaders who will attend a strategy session in Qatar next week, Clinton said. Clinton and other U.S. officials are fed up with infighting among the SNC leaders seeking recognition as a shadow government and have become convinced that the group does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria…

Related Links:

Fox: Was Syrian weapons shipment factor in ambassador’s Benghazi visit?

In From The Cold:  Options in Benghazi

IJReview: Author: Hillary Clinton’s Docs Prove Obama Overruled Her on Benghazi Security

Human Events: Rep. Issa hits back at Democrats in Libya blame game

Background Conf Call With Senior State Dept Officials: Background Briefing on Libya

American Thinker: Benghazi Reveals Obama-Islamist Alliance

Forbes: Benghazi Stand Down Denials Don’t Stand Up To Reason

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Benghazi blunder: Obama unworthy commander-in-chief

CNN (William Bennett): What really happened in Benghazi? WELCOME BACK CNN

SD Union-Tribune: ‘YOU HAVE THE BLOOD OF AN AMERICAN HERO ON YOUR HANDS

 

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