Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Randall R. Schmidt provided Judicial Watch with an unclassified Navy map which reveals that dozens of ships and a multitude of forces were on patrol in the North Africa Area of Responsibility (AOR) on the night of the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012. When Islamic jihadists engaged in a surprise attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were brutally murdered. The Navy map shows that help was, in fact, available to come to the aid of Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who valiantly fought to hold off the terrorist intruders. The help that they so desperately needed didn’t come until after 20 hours of waiting, during which time Woods and Doherty were killed.
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.
‘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.’ Aircraft 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.
A report published this week by the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations also emphasized the Obama administration’s poor response to the attack. The report is extremely critical of the deficient “readiness posture of U.S. forces,” and the panel also hammered military commanders for not implementing “all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.” Obama’s DOD was severely scolded for the conditions that left U.S. personnel in Benghazi vulnerable to the terrorist ambush.
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