Elite U.S. troops were completely capable of saving Ambassador Chris Stevens during the Benghazi Consulate attacks on September 11, 2012. Elements of the highly specialized Combatant Commanders In-Extremis (CIF) units are always on alert, on forward deployment, ready to respond. Their job description is to hit the ground in 3 to 5 hours. CIF elements are ready to engage in active combat anywhere in their region, 3 to 5 hours after the call.
Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense at the time, either misled the U.S. Congress or was incompetent. Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013 that the U.S. military could not have responded in less than 9 to 12 hours.
Obama’s first secretary of defense, Robert Gates, told CBS’s Face the Nation on May 12, 2013 that “[w]e don’t have a ready force standing by” in that region.
But we absolutely do “have a ready force standing by” to reach any trouble spot in a few hours. Insider reports previously revealed that CIF elements were training in Croatia and could have been in Benghazi in three and a half hours.