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29 October 2012


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Just what is a "Fleet Anti Terrorism Security Team"?

Are we really at the point that the Republic's main strategic enemy is 'terror'? That sure sounds like not much of a threat. Four people were killed in Benghazi, which is tragic, but there are more murders on the streets of American cities every day (There were 14,000+ murders in 2008 alone). We should be having a discussion on the real issue. Libya just went through a civil war only a couple of months previous. Surely something more that campaign rhetoric and media blowhards should be leading a discussion on security issues facing America.


robt willmann

A "no-fly zone" was established over Libya, as I recall. This meant no-fly for Libyan aircraft, not U.S. aircraft. Therefore, scrambling jets, other aircraft, and commandos with parachutes was in no way restricted.

If you rush an ambulance and fire truck to the scene of a car wreck, you do not have to use them. So you get jets and other aircraft with parachute dropping capability, and you go to the scene, whether you use them or not.

Jets buzzing low over the scene may have gotten the attention of the attackers and created a bit of hesitation in their minds, especially if it is true that the attack went on for seven hours or more.

But wait a minute. This was September 11. Pardon my sarcasm, but apparently on that date in 2001 it was strangely impossible -- or so the story went -- to have gotten a jet in the air when four airliners were off course for a long time. Perhaps on that date in September, jets for investigating and intercepting are incapable of flight.


Good question. I am frankly tired of the second-guessing of the administration over these attacks.
• This was a consulate, the Ambassador knew there was danger in going out amongst the people, yet he did so on a regular basis. He was in the parlance of the military leading from the front. As a consulate it should, be an armed fort.
• The Secretary of State has already take responsibility for not having security. Secretary Clinton is the Secretary of State and thus it was her responsibility.
• There was chaos in Benghazi, there was no accurate reporting, in fact the military did not have a direct line into Benghazi as such it would have put the FAST team in tremendous danger even if they could have gotten there in time. FAST teams normally need about three hours to gather, brief, and before they can execute a mission. From the accounts I read it was all over in about an hour.
• While the President is the Commander-in-Chief, and head of the Executive Department, it is hardly possible today for him or her to know what is happening in every Executive Department.
• The partisan sniping does not impress me; I have serious doubts if the other party would have done any better.
This should be a good discussion as you have a diverse and educated readership; much better than what passes on a number of other sites I have read relating to this subject.

r whitman

Before we discuss this, is there a reliable ,unbiased timeline of the incident available? If so, where?


Well it looks to me like the AC-130 could have easily taken out the attacking mortar team(s) so looks like the "annex" could have been saved. Initial attack on the consulate that resulted in Ambassador's death-much less clear much could have been done about that in real time.


well, for starters, I assume, given the date, units located in Africa and in the EU, and at sea in the Mediterranean were on a heightened alert. So, in theory, the odds it could have been 'reenforced' were higher than most days. Yes? No?

Now...sufficient enough high alert to make a difference? I imagine some unit must have been in Sicily. Just guessing...but sure a logical jump off point. So, what is that...about 500 miles? Depending on where on Sicily and where in Libya. So, in theory, something could get there quickly. Now, land safely? Secure LZ? Maybe. Maybe not.



This was not television. Reaction time to put something on the way is bound to ba at least a couple of hours. What's the flight time? What were the assets available? How far away were they? What AC-130? Was the Predator armed or was it a photo bird? Some woman called to tell me that attack helicopters from Italy should have been used. What helicopters? How far away? What is the range of these aircraft? Think about space/time factors! pl

The Twisted Genius

Damned good question. I've found major variances in several timelines available online. And this more than six weeks after the event. If we can't get this straight, I don't see how anyone can suggest that we knew what the situation in Benghazi was on that night.


Pl - Totally agree. Those that haven't "been there"
before have a false understanding of the panoply of
difficulties encountered with a rapid and immediate
response, thanks to television and other fiction.


Parachute teams (say platoon size) ready to go 24/7 just in case? Not practical, Col. Lang may wish to comment but the logistics of maintaining such a force permanently on an hours notice to move would require a squadron, a battalion and most probably another thousand support staff.

"An hours notice to move" means that the aircraft is fueled and pre flighted, the pilots are briefed, they have the weather and traffic, the troops are briefed, dressed, armed and loaded for bear, and all are sitting waiting within a few hundred metres of the aircraft.

Now remember you have to rotate those pilots and troops every eight hours and perform a hand over, the troops have to dress, undress, eat, check their gear, sleep, have Two days off every Five, they have administrative and training duties, they may get sick and need attention. Aircraft go unserviceable and need maintenance, etc. Support staff need to be rested and fed, etc. etc.

In other words, its no trivial task being on "an hours notice", even "Four hours notice to move" is a pain in the backside for more than a few days because normal activities have to be curtailed.

Then of course you had better have another ready reaction force sitting waiting to go and get your parachutists if they run into more trouble - and they need to be on four hours notice...

..And a force ready to back up your ready reaction force, maybe on twelve hours notice to move, etc. etc..

In other words, your little parachute force can snare you in a replay of "Blackhawk Down" very quickly.

As for "jets flying low" etc. Sir, are you kidding? The task of the CIA detachment, as far as we know, was to try and trace the thousands of MANPADS (man portable air defence systems) that have gone missing in Libya and have yet to turn up. If what you suggested were part of normal tactics, Al Qaeeda would simply do the whole thing again and snare a few American jets and parachutists as well.

The Twisted Genius

Let's leave aside what forces were available and where they were located for a moment. What kind of rescue or reinforcement was possible? The consulate was attacked by a large group of apparently heavily armed local militia members. The Libyan government's reacting forces were also heavily armed local militia members. No one is wearing distinctive uniforms. It is night. Civilians are also in the area. I can't conceive of a plan that would be effective without a good chance of killing a lot of people we don't want to kill and making matters worse. The situation a few hours later at the consulate annex doesn't look much better. Anybody remember Mogadishu or the Mayaguez Incident? This stuff ain't easy.


Pat, time, space factors matter little to most people as they have never had to deal with the reality; that it takes time to move troops from point A to point B. If the information I saw was correct the FAST team was at least two hours away by helicopter.


Townie 76

"...at least two hours away by helicopter." Average helicopter speed is what? 100 MPH? That would put the point of origin of your putative rescue mission at sea in the Med. Tripoli is much farther than that as is anywhere in Italy. Which troops? "On 12 September 2012 a FAST team was sent to Libya in response to the 2012 U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi." Wiki Given an hour to gear up and decide. This could not possibly have arrive in less than three or four hours after the attacks began. pl


Townie 76

"..time, space factors matter little to most people as they have never had to deal with the reality; that it takes time to move troops from point A to point B." That is the point
I am trying to make here with these fantasizing civilians. pl



That sounds like a good screen play. Maybe we could get Liam whatsis to play the stern commmando leader. Would you have such reinforcement available worldwide? Based where, Rota? Sigonella? Where? pl



"Blackhawk Down" is not the right analogy. In Somalia we killed about 600 of the hostiles even though it was a political defeat. And, in the town there were close to 10,000 NATO troops including a US brigade to ultimatley save the day. No, a better analogy is the defense of a telegraph office in a remote village by a handful of native and British soldiers at the beginning og the film, "Gungs Din." pl

Mark Logan

I looked for a timeline of events, but that "google" is obscured by a mountain of information on the comments made by politicians about the event.

It appears that everybody was in the Annex around midnight, and the decision to evacuate everybody had been made by that time, and accomplished in the early morning hours.

When the mortar rounds started dropping on it is unclear.



I did not mean to imply that you are a "civilian." pl

William R. Cumming

Is my understanding not correct that the MED is no longer home to large or significant American Armed Forces? Most further east?

And have had 48 hours of hard but not torrential rain and very high tides here in the NNK of Virginia and wind gusts up to 50 knots. Looking like another 24 hours to go from Ms. Sandy visiting at the moment.


Trooper: The building could have been built to resist mortar and artillery fire, at least part of it. This is old infantry techniques. If you have a bit space, you should of course make some artillery resistant shelters a bit away from the actual building.

FB Ali

The real issue is whether there was a prior risk assessment done re the danger to the consulate and the safe house. If such an assessment envisaged the type of attack that actually took place, then one can legitimately ask what protective and rescue measures had been put in place, and, if there were some, why they failed to work. And, if none, why? And, going another step back, if no risk assessment was done, why not? Or, if it was faulty, why?

These are the issues that determine whether there were failures, and who is to blame.


I am in furious agreement with you Col. Lang, I was trying to point out the sheer scale of logistics involved when you try and do something like this on the ground and not on a television screen.

On the TV the troops don't have to go to the toilet, they don't to have ammo issued (since they never run out of ammo unless called for by the script). No one has to balance loads and prepack stuff. The bad guys are always easy to identify. Aircraft never go U/S. Nobody gets wounded or breaks a leg unless called for by the script.

THe commentators might as well have asked "Why didn't you call Superman?"


My brother sent me an article about the Benghazi attack. I do not know the author (Doug Hagmann) or his work but from his profile he does sound credible.


It seems Iran was ready to attack any US forces that attempted to rescue the four unlucky operatives in Benghazi.

I think Hagmann is mistaken in his belief that WW III will start in the Middle East, it will start in Asia.



THanks for the reminder, must look for a copy to sit next to "Zulu" BTW after watching that, we trained a platoon to do the three ranks rolling fire with M79's - you know "front rank reload, second rank Fire!" etc. etc. Looked quite impressive on the range. We must have used 150 rounds in about a minute and a half.


Have fun!






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