Ambassador Dubbs was killed in Afghanistan in 1979, not 1988. Thus there has been no improvement in US crisis management responses for rescuing a US ambassador in trouble between 1979 and 2012.
ROBERT STEELE: One of the primary missions of the Navy-Marine Corps team has always been to rescue Ambassadors as the Presaident’s special envoy, and Embassies, in extremis. Non-Combatant Operations (NEO) have been one of the signal strengths of the Navy-Marine Corps team, at least on paper. When I served as Study Director for Planning and Programming Factors for Expeditionary Operations in the Third World (MCCDC, 10990), the study team found the following major flaws in Navy-Marine Corps force structure, none of which have been corrected to date:
01 Navy is 4-6 days away from anywhere because of its reliance on really expensive few big decks rather than a distributed 450-ship Navy.
02 Navy is out-gunned by Third World coastal artillery and likes to park 200 nautical miles offshore — among many mission dysfunctional implications this means that the Marine Corps must have at least one, sometimes two Forward Area Refueling Points to make the round trip [Embassies tend to be far inland]; if an Embassy has not been MINIMIZED the numbers of staff and dependents are beyond that ability of any single deck to evacuate in a reasonable time; and in hot and humid climes — our norm — Navy aircraft designed for a standard aviation day that is warm and not humid cannot lift, loiter, or load what we need.
03 Marine Security Detachments are constrained by diplomatic reasoning from having crew-served weapons, and DoD for reasons that escape me is unable to manage strip alerts for Embassies approaching in extremis, such that a gunship can be put overhead as needed — meanwhile, the Air Force enforces peacetime pilot rest requirements, so the Marines can be abandoned at critical point [I have been told this is no longer true, I do not believe it — the administrative idiocy of service bureaucracies cannot be over-stated, stuff can happen before theater commanders have a chance to reverse service-driven protocols].
In the case of Benghazi, it appears that the Secretary of Defense then serving, lost his nerve and failed to take the advice of General Carter Ham, the commanding general of Africa Command, and failed to launch any of the assets shown in the chart above, the closest of which were in Sigonella (one hour away). General Ham’s silence [or my some accounts, now active dissembling] appears to have been purchased by his being allowed to retire as a four-star. The absence of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in the Mediterranean is both noteworthy, and reasonable grounds for expecting Africa Command to have made alternative strip alert arrangements and aerial refueling tanker availability patterns. The pending election is also noteworthy — it would appear that the Secretary of Defense had an inkling that the attack was a military attack ordered by Syria against a CIA base engaged in illegal arms smuggling to Syrian rebels (an act of war), and was afraid of a Black Hawk Down scenario that might have allowed Karl Rove’s plan to steal the election to achieve the necessary margin.
The recent report from the Department of State is a cover-up. This was not State’s failure, although it is salutary to note their bureaucratic non-cholance about matters of life and death for those in the field. This was a CIA base and CIA was responsible for its security, to include arranging for “the secret team” at Defense to be in support in extremis. Benghazi is almost entirely on CIA and Defense, and that report has not been written and when it is, it will be a cover-up as well.
Regardless of who becomes Secretary of Defense, it is a FACT that by cutting half the flags and senior executive officers, and half the budget over six years, thus stripping down to people with intelligence and integrity, we can create a 450-ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, and an air-liftable Army that will allow us, over the next ten years, to close most of our military bases overseas and bring our troops — and their purchasing power — home. 2012 is a new beginning. This can done humanely — I learned my lesson watching Senator John Warner (R-VA) destroy the National Security Act of 1992 — reform can be job and revenue neutral Congressional district by Congressional district. The time for intelligence with integrity is now St.