by Andy Weddington
Sunday, 28 October 2012
"Without justice, courage is weak." Benjamin Franklin
The gunfight between Americans and attacking terrorists at the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11th, 2012, that resulted in the death of four Americans, was more than a terrorist attack. The site(s) is an American crime scene - of murder.
Recent breaking news as to who had situational awareness and when, and no doubt much more to be learned, leads to the conclusion the President; Vice President; Secretary of State; Secretary of Defense; Director, Central Intelligence Agency; et al., merit criminal charges - murder to manslaughter - for the deaths of Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Ambassador Chris Stevens, and Tyrone Woods. Further, add charges of dereliction of duty, willful negligence, and lying to the American public.
That four American diplomats were abandoned, outnumbered and outgunned, on the battlefield while their multiple desperate pleas to our government's top leadership for help were ignored is nauseating.
Furthermore, where was the National Security Advisor; Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and combatant commander(s) with area responsibility? And what about the decision-making of commanders in the area with direct operational control of personnel and weapons platforms? Why, as is now clear, was there no one with the moral courage to disobey inane orders and engage - whatever the risk? Though as I write this comment a couple of short articles have been sent to me noting an Army general (General Ham - Africom commander) and Navy admiral (Rear Admiral Gaouette - Stennis carrier strike group commander) attempted to disobey orders not to engage but were strong armed against acting and relieved of duty.
Make note Mr. Romney. When President Romney, promote these men. And find more like them for key command assignments.
What comes to mind is the World War II story of naval officer William Graham Claytor, Jr. who, without orders, directed his destroyer to a position where men were reported floating in the water. Though at great risk to Japanese attack, his courageous actions resulted in the rescue of 316 men (from a crew of some 900), in shark infested waters, from the USS Indianapolis sinking. By the way, Mr. Claytor later served as the Secretary of the Navy - somebody didn't forget this man was a leader.
It's been a long time since my operational days but education and training and experiences have come flooding back - tools like Warning Orders; Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2); Commander's Critical Information Requirements (CCIRs); tabletop exercises; short fused rehearsals; and Frag Orders and more - that are germane to the Benghazi problem. And for that matter all military operations.
United States military operational forces, positioned globally - land and sea, are trained to react quickly to unexpected scenarios. It's what they do, what they train for, and one reason we have the most capable, most lethal force(s) on the planet. This Benghazi pop-up was business as usual for our military. And there's no reason why it shouldn't have been addressed aggressively.
During a recent press conference Defense Secretary Panetta spoke of 'a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on.' What a ridiculous comment as there are many in the country with far more military expertise than Mr. Panetta, and those in uniform advising him. And they certainly have the credibility to critically question and opine.
Knowing the anniversary of 9/11 was approaching with unrest in the Middle East (and some forewarning of an attack), if there was not prepositioned forces - why not? Mr. Panetta should explain. And why were assets - personnel and weapons - within an hour or two response time not committed to the fight? The excuses, flying faster than aircraft that could have responded, are stupid.
For perspective and in contrast to the gutless decision-making of our National Command Authority, a few weeks ago I read 'Into The Fire' - the story of U. S. Marine Sergeant (then Corporal) Dakota Meyer and his remarkable combat bravery in the Afghanistan village of Ganjigal in the fall of 2009.
In short, Corporal Meyer's team, part of a larger unit, moved into an ambush of a superior force - in numbers and weapons. Not with the team but monitoring the chaos of battle on radio (at vehicles safely positioned away from the ambush site to support the team), Corporal Meyer was distraught by orders not to engage. Finally, with sense of morality and sense of duty driving decision-making, he (and another Marine), knowing he was going to die (so stated during multiple interviews), plowed into the fight. His actions, returning to the battlefield, against a determined enemy, time and again over a period of five or six hours and though wounded, resulted in killing many enemy to include one with a rock in hand-to-hand combat. Corporal Meyer's selfless actions saved many friendly Afghan and U. S. lives. To his grave disappointment, he was unable to save his team but he recovered their bodies. The point is despite facing a numerically superior force and against orders, he tried. One man made a big difference. He now wears the Medal of Honor.
Contrast the decision-making and actions of a single Marine (there were a few others with him) during the fog of war against that of our country's "leadership" - seemingly driven by politics and personal survival/reelection concerns - with phenomenal assets at hand who watched real time as our countrymen fought for their lives. The situation did not call for thinking as much as it did moral courage. How can they sleep at night?
The Marine ethos is Marines do not abandon Marines in a fight - whether battlefield or bar. Ever. And as Corporal Meyer so ably exhibited. And that's the ethos of our sister services, too. Two SEALs were among the four dead. If the cost is death while trying then so it is. Such was the price they willingly paid.
Core Values - Honor, Courage, Commitment - mean something to some men and women. The values are a creed those in uniform live by. And yet the same values mean nothing to others. How horrible that disconnect exists between warriors and those privileged and entrusted with the authority to command warriors. As to Benghazi, brave men and women highly skilled to employ jets to bayonets were ready and men and women their inferior blundered. For the latter alibis there are not. And senseless deaths stand as fact and truth.
Our fellow Americans were murdered. Americans, starting with the president, had a direct hand in the crime. All America has heard to date is lies. It's time for the truth and American style justice - afforded to every single American. Men and women of moral courage do not lie to protect a liar - that is not loyalty. That is cowardice. Levy the charges. Innocent until proven guilty. Let judicial due process sort it out. Having served as a jury foreman in a criminal trial a couple of few weeks back, I'm confident Mr. Obama et al., will receive fair trials.
Perhaps harsh, stinging criticism but let's not forget the president, and all the others with culpability, work for us. It was their choice to run for office, to accept appointment. Graciously accepting accolades for expected performance and bearing responsibility for failings go with the job.
Pray for those on duty in Afghanistan - an imminent danger zone. And for all others, too, voluntarily in uniform protecting our way of life. They deserve the best of leadership. Soon we have opportunity to give them their due.