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Post-Benghazi Defense Posture: Lives Now Get Same Protection Priority as Intelligence

Officials says changes made in a matter of months, including weekly sit-downs to talk terror, would have changed Benghazi response.

Bridget Johnson


September 20, 2013 - 8:04 pm
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WASHINGTON — Defense officials say that improvements over the past year intended to prevent another Benghazi have included weekly threat-discussion chats and a decision to put the protection of human lives on the same level as the protection of intelligence at diplomatic facilities.

While the Hill was largely transfixed on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s latest examination of the Benghazi attack Thursday, an Armed Services Subcommittee hearing convened before a nearly empty gallery to hear about the Defense Department’s posture a year after the Benghazi attack.

“We are taking prudent steps to reduce the vulnerability of people and facilities abroad while not turning our embassies into fortresses and degrading our diplomats’ ability to do the critical work that benefits us all,” Gary Reid, the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low- Intensity Conflict, told the panel.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), chairwoman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, noted at the open hearing that “in order to understand fully the Department of Defense’s response, it has been necessary for the subcommittee’s briefings to be held at top secret or higher level.”

“Based upon the information we have collected to date, I don’t believe that any amount of heroism during the attacks could overcome the tragic lack of preparedness leading up to it,” Roby said.

“It does not appear that U.S. military forces units, aircrafts, drones or specific personnel that could have been readily been deployed in the course of the attack in Benghazi were unduly held back or told to stand down or refused permission to enter the fight. Rather, we were so badly postured, they could not have made a difference.”

Reid told the committee that the national security staff “convenes weekly reviews of threat streams and security measures to identify hot spots, anticipate crises and synchronize our proactive, preventative and contingency response planning efforts.”

“Our colleagues in the intelligence community provide daily reporting of threat indicators and warnings, and our combatant commanders and chiefs of mission are in regular contact to assess threats and discuss contingency plans,” he said.

Improvements over the past year include the addition of a deputy assistant secretary for security at high-threat posts at the DoD. Congress also approved the addition of up to 1,000 Marines into a diplomatic security detachment.

The Pentagon has raised the minimum size of existing Marine security guard detachments at high-threat, high-risk posts from seven to 13.

“These increases have already begun, and will be complete next month,” Reid said. “We are fielding 35 new Marine security guard detachments to posts that do not currently have them. Three of those detachments have already deployed; seven more will be in the field by the end of this year. And we aim to have the remainder of them fielded by the end of 2014.”

“At the request of the Department of State, Marines from these units were sent to eight posts in advance of the September 11 anniversary last week,” he added.

Reid said the past year has seen a shift in strategy and prioritization.

“In July of this year, the Department of State and the U.S. Marine Corps amended the mission of the Marine security guards to elevate the protection of people and facilities to be a co-equal priority with the protection of classified information,” the Defense official said.

“Just a few weeks ago, the Department of State also approved the use of additional crowd control weapons for Marine security guards. Both of these changes, when combined with the expansion of the program, reduce risk to our citizens and facilities where Marine security guards are deployed.”

Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, the vice director for operations on the Joint Staff, said “force posture today is better suited to what we call the new normal.”

“The cooperation and the progress with the State Department and the whole interagency has truly been significant over the past year. Weekly meetings and sometimes daily phone calls have allowed us to synchronize our efforts,” Roberson added. “…We have shifted our focus from simply reacting to crises to proactively addressing potential crises.”

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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It is completely unnecessary to spend months planning for future disasters like Benghazi. The rules are all in place. What is needed is a change in the personnel.
A commander-in-chief who knew his job, a Secretary of State who understood the lack of security at a sensitive post. Fire the losers, leave the rules in place.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wonderful, so the went from a fireteam to a full squad of Marines. Extra crowd control weapons? Gee, does that mean they will be issuing nightsticks? I wonder if they will be allowed to carry ammunition?

It's been a long time so correct me if I'm wrong but weren't the security detachment personel in Tehran ordered not to resist when it was over run? As I remember the Ambassador ordered them to not resist. He thought he could talk his way out.

It sure is a comfort that a human life is now worth as much as a classified document.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Rather, we were so badly postured, they could not have made a difference.”

What angers me most with this statement that, taken out of context, or, perhaps even IN context, it mirrors Hiltery's "At this point, what difference does it make?"

In other words, the national socialists have, once again, found someone on the "other side" to agree with them, turning this argument into a farcical adventure in butt-sniffing and tail-wagging.

"We said we would get to the bottom of this and by golly, after spending millions of tax dollars on late-night snacks and greasing the political wheels, we did!"

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They couldn't have made a difference???
That is ludicris. How could they possibly have been able to decide how long it was going to go on? Did the Benghazi Warlords send them the battle plan and schedule?
Let's hear directly from the Survivors. Those are the only ones we can possibly believe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Furthermore, if those dispatched from Tripoli had never arrived at all, what sort of outcome would we have had?
Certainly there would be fewer Survivors to keep track of.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who's kidding who here? Adding another 7 Marines, beefing up weapons and defensive measures isn't enough in the midst of thousands of heavily armed militia and soldiers with mortar and artillery and the willingness to sell their lives to kill an Ambassador and those who defend him or her. At best it might buy some time for a rescue, maybe but not without serious loss of life. To have put American State Department and US Military in Benghazi in such instability and then to rely on locals for security is where it all breaks down. To use such a high visibility public figure as an Ambassador to conduct clandestine negotiations in a rebel controlled area like Benghazi over American weaponry secretly given to rebels was grossly fatally and criminally stupid. Like the embarrassment over the Syrian Poisonous Gas Weapons ever moving Red Line non-ultimatum by our "Dear Leader," it's all Amateur night theatrics and token gestures designed to placate the gullible public into thinking that the problem has been solved. Our political leaders really do think we're all just stupid sheep and treat us as such. How much pain, impoverishment, loss of liberty, lying and theft, and yes killing of Americans due to their stupidity and cupidity must we endure from the current crop of politicians before we remove them from office?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who can believe Roby? We all know that the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the US Armed Forces would have volunteered to rescue their fellow countrymen. Now if they say they could not have done anything useful we can believe them. To believe a Washington pol is dopey. We need to ask the military people directly about what happened. Until then the truth is hidden. The Obama administration did not care about the Islamists or the US Govt employees before the attack. To think that on the night of the attack they were suddenly honest, truthful and conscientious is just ridiculous. The Obama Admin teased the Islamists before the attack. Can you imagine a boxer pointing at his chin and telling his opponent "Just here! I'm going to lead with my chin!" That is what Obama did. Then the jihadis attacked and he shut up. He did nothing to save his own people, who he had put in danger. His policy towards China is going down the same path. He is cutting defense spending and increasing the commitment to contain China. The Chinese are humans. One day they will say to themselves "Our diplomats can't win but our soldiers can win." If they think Russia will be neutral or friendly then were will be in big trouble.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

What’s shaping up is an unmitigated disaster for the administration and the Democrat Party with Christians, and with western minds in general. Eagerly looking to fill the leadership gap is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Authoring a derisive op-ed in the New York Times, he chided Obama for disregarding international law, and strongly opposed any military intervention that would benefit the murderous rebels. It’s no secret that Russia has emerged from Communism with a renewed Christian faith. For example, the Basic (Orthodox) Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom, and Rights is meant to guide legislation in Russia. For many Christian Americans who see their faith under assault, that Russia has taken a pro-active stance must be heartening. For American Jews, who see Israel alone in a region that Obama has helped to ignite into chaos, the stabilizing force of Russia must be reassuring.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of a highly trained, professional military with longstanding traditions to complement a free society. In any society, the military is the vanguard that ultimately keeps rule by preventing the conquering by a foreign culture. The values that they cherish, the ideals that they uphold, both reflect and inform the values of the society protected by them. Loyal first to the Constitution, then to the Commander-in-Chief, the United States Armed Forces are intended to be an institution as far removed from daily politics as can be realistically expected. They stand as our most powerful bulwark against tyranny, protecting the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans every day. An active assault on these traditions, and large scale purging of officers who refuse to silence their beliefs, is tantamount to declaring war on the very institution that wages war on our behalf. It’s a not-so-subtle form of national suicide.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think the public would have been a lot more forgiving if the government had at least TRIED to intervene, even if the rescue effort had to be called back while en route.

"We tried, but we just couldn't get there in time" is a lot better than "meh, we probably can't get there in time, so why bother?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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