President Obama, congressional leadership, and senior Pentagon and State Department officials condemned the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attack killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith—who was an Air Force veteran—and two additional US personnel whose names the State Department had not yet released as of Sept. 12, pending notification of kin. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence—none,” said Obama on Sept. 12 in remarks in the White House Rose Garden as State Secretary Hillary Clinton stood by his side. He added, “The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.” Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Wendy Snyder said, “We are saddened by this tragic loss” and the Defense Department “is working closely with the State Department and standing by to provide whatever support that may be needed.” Already the United States began to boost security at diplomatic posts. (AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin) (Clinton statement) (Graham-Lieberman-McCain joint statement) (McKeon statement) (Smith statement)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.