As the story surrounding the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi has progressed, I have been plagued by one recurring thought: American Embassies and Consulates are considered American soil.
If there is any doubt as to the veracity of this statement, the reader is free to review nearly any espionage-themed movie set in a foreign land. Inevitably the protagonist (good-guy-spy) in these movies has an urgent need to escape a gang of antagonists (bad-guy-spies). Regardless of directing or cinematography, the plot line in these scenes is almost always the same. The goal of the fleeing-for-life good-guy-spy is to reach an American Embassy. An American Consulate. American soil.
So what if the attack actually did happen in the homeland; on terra firma Americana instead of a tiny island of America in some distant land? I don’t mean to ask in a paranoid conspiracy “this could happen at your local Starbuck’s” way. We have been consistently assured by the Obama administration that there were no military forces available to aid the besieged Benghazi Consulate on the night of the attack. Nobody was close enough to get there in time.
And it’s very easy to take that statement at face value when we’re talking about Tripoli and Benghazi and a few other remote locations. All those locations are far from us and that’s how we think of all of them…”remote”. But how far are they from each other?
To reiterate the question, what if the attack did happen in the homeland? If Benghazi was in the United States, how far would it be from military forces stationed or staged elsewhere in the United States? If nothing else, this should provide a more easily digestible demonstration of the scale of the Benghazi problem.
The following is a list of the military forces known or alleged to have been in play on the night of September 11, 2012. I would not presume to say these forces could have just been picked up and placed in Benghazi like pieces on a Risk board. There are diplomatic, military, and geopolitical considerations that I’m sure would have made it difficult or impossible to fly U.S. military equipment and personnel into Libya. However, these factors have not been offered by the Obama administration as significant obstacles on the night of the Benghazi attack. The reason given has always been the distance between Benghazi and appropriate military forces.
C 110 EUCOM CIF
According to a Fox News interview with an anonymous Special Operator who had “knowledge of the response”, the C 110 is a 40-man Special Operations force that was undergoing training in Croatia during the time of the Benghazi attack.
The distance between Zagreb, Croatia and Benghazi, Libya is ~925 miles.
This is essentially the same distance from New York, NY and Jacksonville, FL.
The State Department has denied the existence of this force as an available alternative. However, it’s interesting to note that if this was a viable option, the State Department also maintains that they could not have flown these 40 Special Operators 900 miles (at 420 miles per hour in a C-130) in sufficient time to affect a positive outcome.
Commanders In-Extremis Force (CIF)
This elite branch of the Special Forces Group (Airborne) (SFG(A)) was redeployed from Stuttgart, Germany to Sigonella, Italy; ostensibly to provide highly specialized anti-terrorism capabilities. However, the CIF arrived in Sigonella extremely late (rough 8:00 the night AFTER the attack concluded…22 hours after initially being ordered to prepare for departure from Stuttgart). The CIF was not subsequently moved from Sigonella to Benghazi.
The distance between Sigonella, Italy and Benghazi, Libya is 470 miles.
This is essentially the same distance from Reno, NV and Los Angeles, CA.
The distance between Stuttgart, Germany and Benghazi, Libya is ~1240 miles.
This is essentially the same distance from Chicago, IL and San Antonio, TX.
The State Department has not provided substantive explanation as to why the CIF was staged initially instead of being sent directly to Libya or why the staging itself took 22 hours. In a C-130 Hercules the trip from Stuttgart to Benghazi would have taken approximately 4 hours.
Special Forces Tripoli
According to Deputy Ambassador Gregory Hicks in Congressional testimony, 4 Special Forces Operators assigned to Tripoli were prepared to board a C-130 when they were told to stand down. They were ordered not to board the Hercules, despite their clear intention to do just that. The source of that order is still under investigation.
The distance between Tripoli and Benghazi (both in Libya) is 403 miles.
This is essentially the same distance from Boston, MA and Washington, D.C.
It seems appropriate to end this article with a mention of Washington, D.C. Because if (God forbid) the Capitol Building or the White House or the Supreme Court were under attack from mortars and small arms, is it reasonable to believe Boston is too far away to muster and send military aid? If San Antonio were under attack would it be reasonable to say that military forces in Chicago couldn’t arrive in Texas to help for more than a day? If Los Angeles was besieged would we accept the narrative that Reno is too far away to maneuver forces to L.A. in a timely fashion?
It seems to me the State Department explanations are more accurately described as excuses. Excuses that stink to high heaven…from any city in the world.