Preventing Another Benghazi

Airpower would not have effectively prevented or stopped the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September, because of the “problem of distance and time,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. Those attacks killed four Americans, including the US ambassador. Panetta said it would have taken “at least nine to 12 hours” to deploy armed remotely piloted aircraft, AC-130 gunships, or fixed-wing fighters, along with the necessary air refueling support. “This was, pure and simple . . . a problem of distance and time. Frankly, even if we were able to get F-16s or the AC-130s over the target in time, the mission still depends on accurate information about what targets they’re supposed to hit and we had no forward air controllers there,” testified Panetta on Feb. 7. He continued, “We had no . . . communications with US personnel on the ground, and as a matter of fact, we had no idea where the ambassador was at that point to be able to conduct any kind of attacks on the ground.” Click here to continue to the full report.