WALLACE: with all due respect, you didn’t answer my question. what did the president do that night?
PFEIFFER: kept up to date with the events as they were happening.
WALLACE: he didn’t talk to the secretary of state except for the one time when the first attack was over. he didn’t talk to the secretary of defense, he didn’t talk to chiefs. the chairman of the joint who was he talking to?
PFEIFFER: his national security staff, his national security council.
WALLACE: was he in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: he was kept up to date throughout the day.
WALLACE: do you know know whether he was in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: i don’t know what room he was in that night. that’s a largely irrelevant fact.
WALLACE: well —
PFEIFFER: the premise of your question, somehow there was something that could have been done differently, okay, that would have changed the outcome here. the accountability roof board has looked at this, people have looked at this. it’s a horrible tragedy, and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
WALLCE: here’s the point, though, the ambassador goes missing, the first ambassador in more than 30 years is killed. four americans, including the ambassador, are killed. dozens of americans are in jeopardy. the president at 4:00 in the afternoon says to the chairman of the joint chiefs to deploy forces. no forces are deployed. where is he while all this is going on?
PFEIFFER: this has been tested to by —
WALLACE: well, no. no one knows where he is, who was involved, the —
PFEIFFER: the suggestion of your question that somehow the president —
WALLACE: i just want to know the answer.
PFEIFFER: the assertions from republicans that the president didn’t take action is offensive.
“… Obama was notified on Tuesday night that Stevens was unaccounted for and was told on Wednesday morning of his death, a White House official said…” Source: (9/12/2012) Reuters
Hicks: ‘I told State that Stevens was dead @ 9 PM Tues.’
“… Obama administration officials who were in key positions on Sept. 11, 2012, acknowledge that a range of mistakes were made the night of the attacks on the U.S. missions in Benghazi, and in messaging to Congress and the public in the aftermath.
The officials spoke to CBS News in a series of interviews and communications under the condition of anonymity so that they could be more frank in their assessments. They do not all agree on the list of mistakes and it’s important to note that they universally claim that any errors or missteps did not cost lives and reflect “incompetence rather than malice or cover up.” Nonetheless, in the eight months since the attacks, this is the most sweeping and detailed discussion by key players of what might have been done differently.
“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”
…The list of mea culpas by Obama administration officials involved in the Benghazi response and aftermath include: standing down the counterterrorism Foreign Emergency Support Team, failing to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group, failing to release the disputed Benghazi “talking points” when Congress asked for them, and using the word “spontaneous” while avoiding the word “terrorism.”
The Foreign Emergency Support Team known as “FEST” is described as “the US Government’s only interagency, on-call, short-notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide.” It even boasts hostage-negotiating expertise. With U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens reported missing shortly after the Benghazi attacks began, Washington officials were operating under a possible hostage scenario at the outset. Yet deployment of the counterterrorism experts on the FEST was ruled out from the start. That decision became a source of great internal dissent and the cause of puzzlement to some outsiders.
Thursday, an administration official who was part of the Benghazi response told CBS News: “I wish we’d sent it.”…”
Drones in the sky o’re the land of the free,
“The Messiah” Obama spying on you and me.
Tapping our phones and e-mail too,
He is afraid of what we can do.
He wants our guns and ammo you see,
Cause his tyranny, is not to be.
We are free people in this land,
But not under the Kings heavy hand.
He is working hard almost everyday,
To try and take our rights away.
GOD given rights he can try and take,
Afraid that will be one tremendous mistake!
Millions have served this great land,
Many have died from an enemies hand.
I cherish this land and freedom too,
I was proud to serve America and of course you.
Black verses white and tween men and women too,
He has started wars to divide me and you.
Take from the makers everything he can,
To GIVE to the takers in this great land.
Between Fast & Furious and Benghazi,
The King is a liar as we all can see.
Lie to America every chance he gets,
There is no lie that he regrets.
We must hold firm to survive this regime,
And send’em packin’ in twenty fourteen.
We will survive there is no doubt,
This is the land of the free that I shout!!
John D USN RVN 71, 72, 73, evac 75
” … Addressing the Benghazi fallout pre-emptively before Erdogan spoke, Obama said that ‘at my direction, we’ve been taking a series of steps that were recommended by the review board.’ He spoke of various measures he was recommending, to ‘learn the lessons of Benghazi.’ But he referred to the murders of four Americans there as an ‘incident,’ not a terror attack.
And his remarks focused on ‘properly funding’ the State Department and Pentagon-run security at diplomatic posts, shifting the burden to Congress to ‘provide resources and new authorities so that we can implement all the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board which issued a report last month. ‘We’re not going to be able to do this alone,’ Obama said. ‘We need Congress.’
The review board is under fire for failing to interview high-level Obama administration figures, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Interviewing Clinton, Republicans on Capitol Hill have said, would have provided insights into who was accountable for lapses in security that left the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya vulnerable to attack.
Islamist terrorists attacked the consulate on Sept. 11, 2012, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. personnel. But despite Obama’s plea for more funding, money was not an issue in the months before the Benghazi attack when consular officials in Libya asked the State Department for more security forces.
Those requests were repeatedly denied, and neither Hillary Clinton nor other State Department officials have raised a lack of funding as the reason more special forces were not on the scene. On the night of the Benghazi attack, the State Department refused to authorize an existing special forces team in the Libyan capital city of Tripoli to board a military C-130 plane headed to Benghazi, despite their readiness to intervene.
The Obama administration said later that the decision was made because the forces would not have arrived at the consulate, which was under attack, in time to make a difference. The State Department has been silent on the question of how it knew how long the armed, military-style assault from Islamist terror groups would last.
Obama addressed the need to for ”increasing intelligence and warning capabilities’ at ‘diplomatic posts around the world,’ and asked Congress for money to ‘increase the Marine Corps contingents’ at State Department facilities. He also said he wanted additional funding to equip the Department of Defense to respond lightning-quick in times of crisis…”
” …The Benghazi-related emails released by the White House late May 15 exclude the critical emails between administration officials that were sent during the crucial first two days after the deadly jihadi attack that killed four Americans last September. The 100 pages of partially redacted emails also conclude with a dismissive message from CIA chief David Petraeus.
“Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this,” Petraeus said about the heavily edited, four-sentence “talking points” that the White House used to downplay Al Qaeda’s role in the Sep. 11 attack on the poorly protected diplomatic compound.
“This release is long overdue [but] there are relevant documents the Administration has still refused to produce,” said a May 15 statement from Brendan Buck, press secretary to House Majority Leader John Boehner. “We hope, however, that this limited release of documents is a sign of more cooperation to come,” he added.
The two-day gap — the first released email was sent 67 hours after the attack began — plus the Petraeus comment, undermines the White House’s explanation for the rewrite. Officials, including spokesman Jay Carney, say CIA officials — not White House and State Department officials — rewrote a quick-reaction CIA report that had attributed the attack to an al-Qaeda affiliate.
“Even the smallest amount of scrutiny [shows the emails don’t] support their explanation,” said a May 15 tweet from Buck. “The White House’s explanation appears NOWHERE in the actual [email] documents. Nowhere. Not even a hint of it,” Buck added.
After the attack, White House officials used the edited talking points to bolster repeated claims that the organized attack was an unpredictable, spontaneous violent riot by Libyans who were angry about a California-made YouTube video.
The little-known video was sharply critical of Mohammad, the central prophet in Islam. The video was repeatedly cited by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the crisis, which began only eight weeks before the 2012 election.
GOP legislators plan to continue investigating the September cover-up of al-Qaeda’s role, and the current cover-up over the White House’s role in rewriting the CIA report. GOP officials also say more whistleblowers will testify in Congress about the attackers and the White House’s failure to send reinforcements to the beleaguered U.S. diplomats and soldiers.
An interim House report into the cover-up “found that ‘senior State Department officials requested the talking points be changed to avoid criticism for ignoring the threat environment in Benghazi and that those changes were ultimately made,” said the Buck statement.
“Those findings are confirmed by the emails released today … [and] the seemingly political nature of the State Department’s concerns raises questions about the motivations behind these changes and who at the State Department was seeking them,” he concluded…”
“… I have never been an officer, so I can’t speak to this; I have one question to ask:
What is the price of disobedience to your career?
This question is the most pertinent to me. Those of us who have been in any positions of command have been forced, at one time or another, to decide whether following an order or following it “in a different direction” were prudent courses of action. But I want the answers that I may never get.
- I want to know why Lt. Col. Gibson didn’t just go anyway?
- I want the names of the souless careerists at AFRICOM who left those men to die.
- I want to know what happened to putting your career aspirations secondary to saving lives.
As to the first, there are those that are going to tell me “you weren’t there” and call me “monday morning quarterback” and point out how wrong I am and how the foundation of our system is civilian control and obedience to orders, even when we don’t agree with them; and BTW how dare I question this man who was only doing his duty.
I know all of that, and you are entitled to your opinion, just as I; but it is pertinent here to talk about disobedience because disobedience would have put more guns in the fight. Disobedience may have turned this into something other than a blood bath. In my opinion, disobedience in this case, and of this magnitude would have been something absolutely justifiable in the face of any UCMJ action…
…Not the President, SoS, Chief of Staff, or AFRICOM 6 Actual could have stopped me from getting on that aircraft and flying to Benghazi short of actually shooting me. My career wouldn’t mean a big stack of excrement to me at that point. I wouldn’t care if you busted me to low-ass scum sucking private and sent me to Leavenworth to make little rocks out of big rocks in the hot sun; me, my men, and that aircraft would be headed into battle. How’s about you court-martial me if I live?
But as I type those words, maybe I should issue a caveat here; maybe I don’t know the whole story. Maybe 26 of the largest CID agents from the AFRICOM protective detail tackled Col. Gibson right there on the tarmac because he began attempting to steal the aircraft with his men and had to be physically restrained. Maybe there was a stand off like the shower scene in “The Rock” with everyone screaming “STAND DOWN!” The only way to truly know this story and what happened that day is to get Col. Gibson before Congress and have him tell his story. I for one, am on the edge of my seat waiting to hear the ground truth of that day.
As to the second, I have my pencil and paper ready. I promise you that this writer is not going to forget what you did.
And as to the third, I am dishearteningly disappointed that we have reached a point in our zero defects, zero tolerance for mistakes and zero margin for error military operational mentality that we have someone with the training and tools to affect the battle to reinforce the people who are fighting to save the most powerful man in the world’s personal representative and no one thought that it was important enough to try to save the President in Name Only from his spineless, weak-ass, leading from behind, “I will just go back to bed and hope this will all go away” version of non-leadership. The very idea that senior officials would follow an order that directs them to NOT assist men under fire tells me much about how bad the culture has become…”
Lack of military response should be top issue
“I knew wherever I was that you thought of me and that if I got in a tight place, you would come — if alive.” This statement was contained in a letter dated March 10, 1864, written by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. It expresses an ageless ethos among warriors, especially those within the U.S. military. The commitment to come to the aid of fellow Americans in times of duress and danger has always been one of the foundations of America’s fighting forces. Yet that appears to have changed on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, when no effort was made to respond to the calls for help by U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his CIA team at the U.S. Consulate facility.
Why was there no attempt to save the lives of the ambassador and his colleagues, beyond sending an unarmed drone to observe their demise? The congressional committees investigating the events in Benghazi seem to have focused on the Sunday talk-show statements of Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who blamed the attack on an obscure anti-Islam video made by a relatively unknown man in California.
While it certainly is important for legislators to determine whether Mrs. Rice was misleading the American public as part of a White House-orchestrated misinformation plan, it is more important to determine why there was no rescue effort. With Mrs. Rice’s name off the table for secretary of state, Congress needs to focus on the military. The excuse that U.S. military forces in the area could not have arrived in time to save Stevens and his team is unacceptable. That means the U.S. military commanders involved determined how long it was going to take the attackers to overrun and kill the Americans in Benghazi. Because their assessment was that it would be done before they could arrive, they chose not to try.
Even if the live video from the drone over the consulate showed that the team in Benghazi had been killed, a military operation still would have been required. It is impossible to determine from an intelligence drone what enemy intentions are and to ascertain the status of other Americans and allies in the vicinity.
The ethos does not apply just to saving lives but includes the notion that no dead American will be left to fall into enemy hands. In 1993, Task Force Ranger fought an 18-hour battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, against a tribal militia numbering in the thousands. I was there as the commander of the Delta Force and bore responsibility for getting 99 warriors out of the city that day after having accomplished our primary mission. The mission was to capture a band of loyalists and supporters of a warlord and tribal leader named Mohammed Aideed. We succeeded in that task rather quickly, but when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, the mission changed to one that was even more critical. The battle is chronicled in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”
What most people do not realize is that the special operations forces involved in that fierce fight, which claimed 15 U.S. lives, were fighting over the bodies of two of their comrades. Both the pilot and the co-pilot of the crashed helicopter were killed on impact and trapped in the twisted wreckage. No one was willing to leave their bodies behind because everyone lived by a code that is encapsulated in the fifth stanza of something called the Ranger Creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.”
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta had multiple options with which to respond to the consulate attack, yet he explained that he was not willing to commit U.S. forces without knowing exactly what was going on at the scene. That is an unacceptable response from the man in charge of our military. Aircraft from the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet could have responded with close air-support platforms, or U.S. Marines in the region could have been dispatched, probably from Sigonella, Italy, a U.S. base in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, a U.S. Navy SEAL team and a U.S. Army Special Forces battalion were co-located with the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and both are trained and designated for rescue operations. Why did CNN reach the consulate before any military or U.S. government elements?
Americans must demand answers about why there was no effort to save Stevens and his team — or, as a last resort, to recover their bodies and return them to American control. It would seem that a special investigation by a bipartisan team is in order. The actions of the military during the Benghazi attack must be examined thoroughly. Did the military refuse to respond? Or was it told to “stand down”? Who gave the order not to respond? Why did U.S. leadership decide to let the bodies of Stevens and his cohorts fall into Libyan hands? These questions must be asked, but it appears that these are not concerns of the congressional committees.
Americans who are sent by the U.S. government to perform duties that are considered important to U.S. interests must know that all efforts will be made to protect them and to respond if they are attacked. It is an ethos that is fundamental to our identity as a nation, and we failed to live up to it in Benghazi.
Dec 26, 2012 Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin is executive vice president at the Family Research Council and was an original member of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.
Long ago I was a SEAL officer and I attended many joint and combined operational planning meetings in the USA, abroad, and on ships at sea. This type of rescue mission is called a “NEO” operation, for Non-combatant Evacuation Operation. Every embassy and consulate has and practices all kinds of emergency evac plans, in concert with the US military.
For example, Marines and SEALs practice NEO ops prior to deploying on every float, as a VERY high priority mission. They involve full dress-rehearsals, with civilian role players, helos, landing craft, rounding up stranded stragglers, opfor ambushes, role-playing “angry mobs,” fighting your way to LZs or even beaches while protecting a gaggle of civilians down to babies etc. Conducting successful NEO ops is a TOP TOP TOP military and state department mission priority. I cannot emphasize this enough. NEO ops are planned and practiced over and over and over.
When the alarm goes off worldwide that an embassy or consulate is being attacked, the entire U.S. military swings into rescue mode, without waiting for any orders from the White House. The military does all of the operational planning and begins to execute the rescue op.
The one thing they CAN’T do is cross an international border without permission from POTUS. So the US Military will be inbound full-steam-ahead to make the rescue, and all they need from POTUS is a “proceed” order. In this case, they got a “stand down” instead.
This is at the POTUS level, it is not a decision taken at State. State and the military (JCS) should be in the Situation Room with POTUS soon after a critical incident like this begins, so all decisions can be made in real time. (I have heard nowhere that POTUS went into the Situation Room at all. Apparently he went to the Oval Office briefly, but not down to the Situation Room, where the “war planning” screens, full staffs and commo tools are all located for dealing with a major crisis.)
But if POTUS punts after a brief Oval Office meeting with Dempsey and Hillary and goes upstairs to the family quarters….the stranded Americans will die. Only POTUS can give the order to cross international borders. Only POTUS can allow US warplanes to give air support to Americans battling on the ground in a foreign country. If POTUS makes himself unavailable, the Americans will die.
Even the VEEP or Secretary of State cannot make that call. The VEEP can only do it if the POTUS is determined to be medically unable to perform his functions. If the POTUS goes upstairs and turns off his phone, there is nothing anybody can do about it. Nothing. And the besieged Americans will die.
On Friday an anonymous Pentagon insider (”Doug”) called into Rush with a lot of new details about this disgraceful fiasco. But what we really need now is for a high-ranking officer with insider knowledge to go public, risk his pension and career, and tell the truth.
The blame for this humiliating and shameful national disgrace is pointing directly at the POTUS, and America needs to know why the inbound rescue operation was aborted.
Source & Name Withheld
U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet
31ST FIGHTER WING “RETURN WITH HONOR”
The mission of the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, is to deliver combat power and support across the globe to achieve U.S. and NATO objectives. The 31st FW maintains two F-16 fighter squadrons, the 555th FS and the 510th FS, capable of conducting offensive and defensive air combat operations.
In peacetime, the 31st FW prepares for its combat role by maintaining aircraft and personnel in a high state of readiness. The 31st FW also includes the 603rd Air Control Squadron, capable of providing air surveillance, control and communications. The 31st FW is the only U.S. fighter wing south of the Alps. This strategic location makes the wing critical to operations in NATO’s southern region.
Beginning July 1994, the wing provided combat support for NATO’s first-ever operational mission, Deny Flight, an effort to limit the war in Bosnia through imposition of a no-fly zone. And in August and September 1995, 31st FW F-16s flew more than 400 combat sorties during Operation Deliberate Force. Operation Deny Flight ended with the formal signing of the Dayton Peace Accord, and the wing’s emphasis shifted to support what is now Operation Deliberate Forge. In March 1999, in support of Operation Allied Force, U.S. and allied forces assembled at Aviano Air Base, Italy, to react if called upon by NATO leadership.
In 2000, the wing began its full-fledged participation in the Expeditionary Air Force. From March to September 2000, the 510th and 555th Fighter Squadrons conducted back-to-back deployments to Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, in support of Operation Southern WATCH. The wing’s support of Operation Iraqi Freedom began in late 2003. The 31st FW continued deploying forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and OIF, with personnel supporting combat operations every year since 2003.
The only significant deviation from this pattern occurred in 2007 when the 555th FS deployed to Kunsan AB, Republic of South Korea, to provide theater support to the U.S. Forces Korea commander. This marked the first time in history that an entire USAFE fighter unit deployed to Asia.
In March 2011, the 31st FW played a major role in the United Nations’ response to the crisis in Libya, known as Operation Odyssey Dawn in enforcing no-fly zone UNSR 1973. The wing hosted four flying units and more than 1,350 personnel during the 15-day operation, March 17-31. It worked around the clock to launch 2,250 flying operations out of Aviano AB. As OOD came to an end on March 31, so began Operation Unified Protector, with NATO taking the lead until the operation’s conclusion Oct. 31.
The 31st FW has one assigned geographically separated unit, the 731st Munitions Squadron at Camp Darby, Italy. The wing also supports numerous other geographically separated units.
NATO Operations In Libya By Country
Main air base
||Araxos base in south-western greece
||Trapani-Birgi and Sigonella
||currently operating from French Air Bases of Avord, Nancy, St Dizier, Dijon and Istres, as well as Evreux and Orléans for planes engaged in logistics.
||Aktion and Andravida military air fields in Crete
||Gioia del Colle, Trapani, Sigonella, Decimomannu, Amendola, Aviano, Pantelleria
||sardinian base, decimomannu
||Souda Bay, Crete
||Souda Bay, Crete
||Sigonella Air Base in Italy
||Gioia del Colle, Italy and RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
AFRICOM: AF, Navy still flying Libya missions Jun. 30, 2011
Air Force and Navy aircraft are still flying hundreds of strike missions over Libya despite the Obama administration’s claim that American forces are playing only a limited support role in the NATO operation. An Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that since NATO’s Operation Unified Protector (OUP) took over from the American-led Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 31, the U.S. military has flown hundreds of strike sorties. Previously, Washington had claimed that it was mostly providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and tanker support to NATO forces operating over Libya.
“U.S. aircraft continue to fly support [ISR and refueling] missions, as well as strike sorties under NATO tasking,” AFRICOM spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple said in an emailed statement. “As of today, and since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties in support of OUP. Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.” A White House report on Libya sent to Congress on June 15 says that “American strikes are limited to the suppression of enemy air defense and occasional strikes by unmanned Predator UAVs against a specific set of targets.” The report also says the U.S. provides an “alert strike package.”
Dalrymple named the Air Force’s F-16CJ and Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft as the primary platforms that have been suppressing enemy air defenses. However, those F-16s are not solely drawn from units based in Spangdahlem, Germany, or Aviano, Italy. The service has reportedly deployed U.S.-based units to Europe to conduct these operations.
Earlier this month, Malta Today reported that two F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, made emergency landings on the island. The 20th Fighter Wing is based at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. The AFRICOM spokeswoman did not address why U.S.-based units were deployed for the mission. The Navy’s Growlers are based at Whidbey Island, Wash.
However, those may not be the only strike aircraft flying over Libya. Last week, Air Force F-15E crews attending the Paris Air Show, along with their public affairs officer, said they could not talk about their activities in Libya during Odyssey Dawn because they are not able to comment on “current operations.”
AFRICOM couldn’t immediately say when the last U.S. strike sortie over Libya was flown. The fact that the U.S. is conducting strike missions over Libya should not come as a surprise, said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the service’s former intelligence chief. “It’s no surprise to me that we’ve been participating, because we’re a member of NATO,” Deptula said.
What is different now, he said, is that sorties are planned differently under NATO control. Deptula said it is not particularly surprising that additional units would be brought in to support those operations. The revelation comes as a debate rages in Washington over the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which calls for the president to ask Congress for permission to deploy American forces into combat longer than 60 days. If the Congress does not grant that permission within that span, U.S. forces must be withdrawn within 30 days.
“It’s not necessarily a violation of the War Powers Resolution,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, now associate director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, and visiting professor of the practice at Duke University School of Law. “[But] it does raise questions about the scope and intensity of our participation versus how it’s been represented.”
Others disagreed. The president is in clear violation of the War Powers Resolution, said Robert Turner, co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia. Under the legal definition of hostilities, even providing logistical support or intelligence data qualifies as such, he said, never mind firing missiles from Predator UAVs or F-16 fighters.
However, the resolution itself is unconstitutional because treaties are effectively part of the Constitution the way the framers wrote the document, he said. “Legally, this is his discretion, but he is in clear violation of the statute,” Turner said. “The reason he’s not bound by that is because the statute is clearly unconstitutional.”
Dunlap said he is less sure. “It does raise that specter [of violating the Constitution], but in any event, it doesn’t seem to track with what we’ve been told about the relatively benign participation of U.S. forces,” he said. The Obama administration has said that the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the Libya operation because the U.S. role is limited.
The White House declined to comment on how 801 strike sorties constitutes “limited” involvement, but Harold Koh, a State Department legal adviser, said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that “when U.S forces engage in a limited military mission, that involves limited exposure for U.S. troops, and limited risk of serious escalation, and employs limited military means, we are not in the kind of hostilities of the kind envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”
He said there have been “no active exchanges of fire with hostile forces” despite AFRICOM’s statement that weapons had been dropped during 132 sorties. Many in Congress on both sides of the aisle vehemently disagree with the White House’s contention.
Most air assets involved in the campaign are reconnaissance aircraft, including the U-2 high-altitude spy plane, E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System ground surveillance aircraft and the Navy’s P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The U.S. provides nearly 70 percent of the NATO operation’s ISR capacity, according to the White House report.
Additionally, the Air Force is still providing EC-130J aircraft to the operation to conduct psychological warfare operations by broadcasting coercive messages. The remaining aircraft operating in the theater are aerial refueling tankers, including KC-10s and KC-135s. The U.S. also provides the majority of the alliance’s tanker capability.
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