Rather than doing a typical article consisting of my own verbal diarrhea, I figured this write-up from the New York Times article was full of much more
gut-wrenching interesting information that I could use to provide some WTF?! additional commentary and insight. I will do my absolute best to keep the sarcasm to a bare minimum, but it is nearly impossible after reading this article. Also, be sure to take note of the article title. Not exactly the conclusion I reached, but it is the New York Times.
The number of State Department security agents at the compound in Benghazi fluctuated, sometimes dipping to as few as two. Five American security agents were at the compound on Sept. 11 — three stationed there and two traveling with Mr. Stevens.
In addition to the Americans, there were several armed Libyans who served as a quick-reaction force. The Americans were also able to call on the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, a militia supportive of the Libyan government. Yet another small group of Libyan guards stood watch at the gates and perimeter of the compound, but this group was unarmed and equipped with only whistles and batons.
Whistles and batons… whistles… batons… Good thing they’re not in a war zone. (Sarcasm, sorry). If you are using local security forces, there is definitely a danger to arming them heavily (see Afghan green-on-blue attacks). However, the relationship between your security and your footprint are inversely related. More on this in a few. Moving on…
When it came to weapons, the American security team was outgunned. The Americans were equipped with M4 rifles and side arms. But Libya was rife with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars and AK-47s.
Who dictated this load out? Was this another attempt by the State Department to build trust and goodwill by not appearing mean and angry? Were there requests for heavy weaponry? Did anyone raise a red flag in regards to what would happen in the event of a large attack? How much ammunition were the security teams assigned? Were their weapons allowed to be loaded at all times?
At one point, Mr. Nordstrom, the regional security officer, proposed establishing guard towers, but the State Department rejected that on the grounds that it would make the compound more conspicuous.
I get the funny feeling that our presence was well-known, particularly when we hired locals for security. Typically, if you are wanting to keep a low-profile, one would be wise to bring your own people or hire locals that have established bona fides based on prior intelligence networking efforts. Based on this planning disaster, I get the sick feeling they put an ad in the local classified ads. Kudos to Mr. Nordstrom for his attempt at common sense. Negative kudos to the State Department for not realizing you can’t simultaneously be secure AND keep a low profile when you’re surrounded by people who desperately want your blood.
On June 6, a bomb was planted near the American Mission’s outer wall, blowing out a 12-foot-wide hole.
Strike one… Alert: people who want to kill Americans know there are Americans at this location. This is the moment when we should have realized we DO NOT HAVE A SMALL FOOTPRINT. This is the equivalent to a hard compromise, which necessitates two options: leave or establish stronger security. Staying around and ‘hoping for the best’ is a sure-fire way to get your people killed.
On June 11, the lead vehicle of the British ambassador’s convoy was hit by an armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenade, wounding a British medic and driver.
Strike two… “The first attack didn’t get their attention. Let’s try RPGs.”
The British envoy left Benghazi the next day, and the British post in the city was closed on June 17. About the same time, the Red Cross in the city pulled out after it was attacked a second time.
Strike three? Both the British and the Red Cross chose one of the two common sense options on the table at this point of the sliding scale of escalating hostilities. The only other option is to establish a more robust security posture. Why were neither of these options chosen at this point? What actions were taken after these events? Who decided to remain without improving security?
The embassy had also established a series of “trip wires,” classified benchmarks about intelligence on attack preparations or escalating unrest that would prompt the United States to evacuate the Benghazi compound. But the trip wires were not set off.
Something tells me that whoever these “trip wires’ were intended for were aware of them, allowing them to be successfully avoided. I assume it involved tracking movements and communications from known and suspected anti-Western personalities. My gut tells me the specific variables of these trip wires were leaked to their intended targets. When were these trip wires established? Were they tripped prior to the multiple attacks in June? Were any locals aware of them?
New security cameras with night vision capability were shipped to the Benghazi compound but were still sitting in crates when the September attack occurred.
………. I literally had to walk away from my computer when I read this. I don’t even know what to say. How long prior to the attacks in September were these received? Who was responsible for overseeing their installation? What was the security plan if strange activity was noticed on the cameras?
By early September, some Libyan officials in Benghazi were echoing the same security warnings as Mr. Stevens was relaying to Washington.
Why did we ignore this? Did the people in positions of power doubt that American lives were in danger or did they overestimate our standing security posture?
“I was extremely pleased with the planning to get us into Libya,” Mr. Nordstrom said. But after the initial security teams began rotating out of Libya months later, he said, “there was a complete and total absence of planning.”
Makes loads of sense to me, Mr. Nordstrom. Who has been held responsible for this lack of planning?
Still waiting on the answers.
Who do you think will be held responsible for this absolute breakdown of common sense, tactical, and strategic planning? Comment below and spread this story around.
(Author’s note: Many thanks to David D. Kirkpatrick and Suliman Ali Zway for their contributed report)