New Navy Map Shows U.S. Had ‘Multitude of Forces’ in Region Surrounding Libya During Benghazi Attack


The U.S. military had a multitude of forces in the region surrounding  Libya when terrorists attacked the Special Mission in Benghazi and  murdered four Americans, according to an unclassified Navy map obtained by Judicial Watch this week.

The map features the Navy fleet positions in the North Africa Area of  Responsibility (AOR) on September 11, 2012, the day Islamic jihadists  raided the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi. Ambassador Christopher  Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades, and three  other Americans were murdered in the violent ambush.

troops _ benghazi area LARGE

Dozens of vessels were stationed in the region on that day, including  two aircraft carriers (Dwight D. Eisenhower and Enterprise), four  amphibious ships, 13 destroyers, three cruisers and more than a dozen  other smaller Navy boats as well as a command ship. Carriers are  warships, the powerhouse of the naval fleet with a full-length flight  deck for aircraft operations. During the Benghazi attack, two carriers  were based to the east in the Arabian Sea, the Navy map shows.

Two amphibious assault ships (Iwo Jima and Gunston Hill) were  situated to the east in the Gulf of Oman and one (New York) was in the  Gulf of Aden, the map shows. A fourth (Fort McHenry) was located on the  west side of the African continent in the Atlantic Ocean. Amphibious  ships resemble small aircraft carriers and have air-craft strips for  vertical and short take-offs and landings. The destroyers are scattered  throughout the region, but the closest appear to be four (Cole, Forrest  Sherman, Jason Dunham and Aboon) in the Mediterranean Sea north of  Libya. The rest of the fleet includes cruisers, minesweepers, patrols  and a command ship.

The map was provided to Judicial Watch by retired Air Force  Lieutenant Colonel Randall R. Schmidt, who is investigating how the  military responded to the Benghazi attack. Schmidt flew jet fighters  during his active duty and says there’s no reason the military could not  have efficiently responded in Benghazi. Schmidt got the map after  filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Navy asking  it to identify the location of all its assets in the region on September  11, 2012.

In a letter attached to the map, the Navy writes that the Iwo Jima was the closest  large amphibious ship to Benghazi on that day, but fails to mention the  exact distance. The letter does mention that the USS Enterprise, the  aircraft carrier that appears on the map to be the closest to Libya, was  located approximately 3,350 nautical miles from Benghazi. “Assuming a  20 knot transit speed and no Suez Canal delays, the transit would take  approximately 168 hours or seven days,” the Navy says in the letter to  Schmidt. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower “would require additional transit  time from its position in the Arabian Gulf,” the letter further states.

Navy map Benghazi LTR

“Destroyers could have responded to the attack,” Schmidt said adding  that the military also has “rapid reaction forces” in the region as well  as “armed predators.” Air craft could have also been deployed,  according to Schmidt, but the Department of Defense (DOD) has refused  his requests for records involving the air fleet on that day. “The point  is there were enough forces to respond,” Schmidt says.

Coincidentally, a congressional report released this week explores the DOD reaction to the attack. Published  by the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and  Investigations, the report says that the military’s response was  “severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S.  forces…” The panel also attributes the weak military response to a  “lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding.”

Nevertheless the committee blasts military commanders for not taking  “all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.” It also  chastises White House officials for ignoring the “dramatically  deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to U.S.  interests in the region.” As a result U.S. personnel in Benghazi were  woefully vulnerable because the Obama administration didn’t “direct a  change in military force posture,” the new report states.

Judicial Watch has been a leader in investigating the Benghazi  terrorist attack and has published two in-depth reports on the deadly  raid. Read them here and here. JW has a number of pending lawsuits and public-records requests related to the incident and it was JW that obtained the first photos depicting  the devastating aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.  diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi as well as details of the  inexperienced foreign company hired to protect the American compound.  The State Department paid the virtually unknown British firm $794,264  for nearly 50,000 guard hours, according to the records obtained in the course of JW’s ongoing Benghazi probe.

Read more: Family Security Matters Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

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