Leave No Man Behind… Four Hours Out

Benghazi Terrorist
Benghazi Terrorist

The phrase “leave no man behind” has long been a foundational concept among America’s fighting men and women.  The Army’s Warrior Ethos states “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”  The Air Force’ Airman’s Creed pledges “I will never leave an Airman behind.”  The Army Ranger’s Creed proclaims “Never shall I fail my comrades,” and “Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.”

These are the words that ALL American fighting men and women live by, and when required, die by.  It’s a way of life that you must accept to be a member of the team.  You ‘show hard or you go home.’

What is important to understand about this philosophy is that we do not stop to calculate if bringing our fallen comrades out of harm’s way is worth the risk.  We don’t stop to do that math to determine what we might lose compared to what we might gain.  We simply do not leave fallen comrades behind… not while we have the means to bring about a different outcome.

 

—– No Time:

The White House has been telling us for seven months that the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that took the lives of four Americans including our Ambassador just happened too fast for any help to have arrived in time.

Huh.  That’s odd, because it seems to me that we probably did have someone within striking distance of Benghazi.  That’s exactly what Delta Force and the Navy SEALs (and a few other organizations you’ve never heard of) are all about. So I did some checking.

Remember that as the attack in Benghazi unfolded no one could have known how long the incident would last… perhaps only an hour, perhaps many hours – as it turned out the attack lasted more than eight hours.

If the President had given the order to protect the Americans trapped in our embassy in Benghazi (which he claims he did), or if the Ambassador on the ground had made the request (which we now have testimony that he did) then the Combatant Commander (a four-star General) could have deployed forces without any further instruction, authority or authorization.  That’s the power of a US Ambassador abroad, and the power of a US Combatant Commander.  They did not need the approval of the President of the United States.

 

—– “Charlie 1-10”:

Special Forces
Special Forces

On 9-11 of 2012 that force was the Special Operations unit designated “Charlie 1-10”; a 40 man SPECOPS force capable of rapid response and deployment within 60 minutes specifically trained for incidents like the one in Benghazi.  “Charlie 1-10” is one of a total of six teams – designated C1/1, B2/3, A1/5, C3/7, C1/10, C2/10 – that form the Combatant Commander In-Extremis Force teams, one in each of the Geographic Combatant Command Areas of Operation.

We now know that this force was available, within immediate deployment range, and was in fact already on alert status.

(Update: since May 12th of 2013 when I wrote this article the full timeline of the Benghazi attack has come to light in Congressional hearings.  It turns out that “Charlie 1-10” was in fact put on notice, and actually moved to Benghazi.  However they arrived in Benghazi more than 31 hours after the attack started, at 5:26 am on 12 Sep!  By that time of course the whole thing was over.  Please read this article for more information.)

 

—– What could have happened:

When such a force is on the ‘ready ramp’ so to speak it is literally sitting in a hangar on an airfield with transport aircraft manned, fueled and ready to fly with no notice, that are also on alert and would be used for no other purpose than to deploy the CIF.  The CIF itself would be in uniform, weapons in hand, equipment loaded… literally!  This is the way all US rapid deployment military forces operate.  On 9-11 of 2012 “Charlie 1-10” was geared up, ready to go and on a US controlled airfield in Croatia… on a 60 minute lead to be IN THE AIR.  Flight time to Benghazi was less than three hours.

Further, additional SPECOPS forces could easily have been flown to Benghazi from locations around the Mediterranean and Europe, arriving within perhaps six or eight hours – plenty of time to back up “Charlie 1-10.”

Fighter aircraft from Italy could have been dispatched to provide fly overs within an hour to let those poor guys trapped in our embassy there know that their pleas for rescue had been heard and that help was on the way… that indeed no man would be left behind.  That probably wouldn’t have stopped the terrorists from attacking but it would have given them something to think about.  Perhaps a few of them would have headed for home… others might have stopped firing at the embassy and started firing the aircraft in the air above their heads instead.

Following those actions other Special Operations forces could have arrived in a steady flow over the ensuing hours of the actual battle that occurred on 9-11 (wow, now that was a surprising date for trouble in a place like Libya to have broken out, huh?)

Conceivably an entire 600-man battalion of US Army Rangers could have been in the air headed for Benghazi within about 18 hours, although I cannot imagine such a force would have been necessary.  If the President had his head in the game he would have had the Rangers put on alert just in case.  They could always be ‘turned off’ if it turned out that such a force wasn’t necessary.

Ambassador Stevens
Ambassador Stevens

All that Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans that died in Benghazi that night needed was “Charlie 1-10.”

 

— The Order:

Here’s the rub; while it did not require a Presidential order to intervene, it would have taken the power of the President of the United States – or at a minimum the Secretary of Defense of Secretary of State – to STOP such intervention, had action been ordered at the Combatant Commander or Ambassadorial level.  If the President had given the order then neither of his Secretaries could have – or would have – countermanded that order.  Even more absurd is the thought that any of the General officers involved would have disobeyed a Presidential order.

Sworn testimony before Congress in the months since the attack in Benghazi indicates that an order to stand down was definitely given – at least once, and perhaps as many as three separate times – although specifically who gave that order has not yet been determined.

We don’t know for sure yet just who sent the order to stand down, but one thing is certain; if the President of the United States of America had said, “I don’t care what it takes – get military aid to Benghazi NOW” it would have happened.  “Charlie 1-10” would have been on the ground in Benghazi inside four hours.  Instead someone wavered and folded… and President Obama left early on September 12th for a campaign rally in Las Vegas literally while American blood was being spilled by al Qaeda-led and trained Libyan terrorists – the same al Qaeda that President Obama was assuring the American people from the campaign trail was on the run with his slogan “GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead.”

“Charlie 1-10” could have been there in time, but they were ordered to stand down… to let four Americans die.  Someone did the math and decided that we would not even try to effect a rescue – that we would instead choose to leave our comrades behind… and a few weeks later send in the FBI to investigate.

 

—– The Cover-Up:

Secratery of Defense Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Now as whistle blowers are coming out of the woodwork, and as SPECOPS Soldiers are coming forward with the truth about the forces that were available, the Democratic Party backed by a faithful and adoring media are rallying behind the President, circling the wagons and proclaiming that this is all just a Republican witch hunt.

If things get too hot for the White House I suspect that (now former) Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (whose political career is probably at an end anyway at age 74) will be sacrificed in an effort to save Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from being too damaged to run for President herself in 2016.

In the end I predict that President Obama will not be charged with any wrong-doing, much less impeached.  Those who believe that he will underestimate the power of the American media to ignore the issue, and dangle shiny objects before our eyes to distract us.  They underestimate the attention span of the American people which can be measured in football games and American Idol episodes.  They underestimate the absolute inaction that has come to pass in Washington as a result of a Democratic Party controlled by the far left that will stop at nothing to defend the President and his staff.

If the attack on our Consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist attack by Libyan terrorists advised by al Qaeda then Obama’s campaign rhetoric that al Qaeda had been defeated on his watch would fall apart.

The United States could have sent help and maybe saved the lives of four Americans, but someone – perhaps our President, perhaps the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense – did not give the explicit order to do so.  They didn’t even try.

Hillary Clinton was right to question during the run-up to the 2008 elections what caliber of individual we wanted to answer that 2:00 am phone call that reported an emergency in some foreign country where Americans were in danger.  Turns out it was neither she nor her opponent.

Ultimately we will probably learn the truth, but remember that no matter who ordered the stand-down if the President had actually ordered military action – as he claims that he did – NO ONE BELOW HIM had the authority to have ordered a termination to operations.

The bottom line is that it seems that our country does indeed leave fallen heroes behind.  This heinous act of cowardice will figure prominently in the minds of the American military for quite some time.

 

—– Epilogue:

See also this Stars and Stripes article which announces that USAFRICOM will now be provided its own CIF.  At the time “Charlie 1-10” was under the control of the European Theater Combatant Commander (CDRUSEUCOM), but Benghazi is physically located in the Africa Theater (USAFRICOM) under the control of a different Combatant Commander – at the time General Carter Ham.  Because of the instability of the African Theater the headquarters of AFRICOM is actually located at the US Army’s Kelley Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany… right next door to the headquarters of EUCOM.  Coordination and cross-use of “Charlie 1-10” could have been arranged by a single phone call in less than five minutes.

When the Obama administration tells you anything different, know this – they’re full of crap.

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