Judicial Watch • JW Gets Map of Military Fleet Positions During Benghazi Attack

JW Gets Map of Military Fleet Positions During Benghazi Attack

JW Gets Map of Military Fleet Positions During Benghazi Attack

FEBRUARY 12, 2014

The U.S. military had a multitude of forces in the region surrounding Libya when terrorists attacked the Special Mission in Benghazi and murdered four Americans, according to an unclassified Navy map obtained by Judicial Watch this week.

The map features the Navy fleet positions in the North Africa Area of Responsibility (AOR) on September 11, 2012, the day Islamic jihadists raided the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades, and three other Americans were murdered in the violent ambush.

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.

In a letter attached to the map, the Navy writes that the Iwo Jima was the closest large amphibious ship to Benghazi on that day, but fails to mention the exact distance. The letter does mention that the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier that appears on the map to be the closest to Libya, was located approximately 3,350 nautical miles from Benghazi. “Assuming a 20 knot transit speed and no Suez Canal delays, the transit would take approximately 168 hours or seven days,” the Navy says in the letter to Schmidt. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower “would require additional transit time from its position in the Arabian Gulf,” the letter further states.

“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.” Air craft 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.

Coincidentally, a congressional report released this week explores the DOD reaction to the attack. Published by the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the report says that the military’s response was “severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces…” The panel also attributes the weak military response to a “lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding.”

Nevertheless the committee blasts military commanders for not taking “all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.” It also chastises White House officials for ignoring the “dramatically deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to U.S. interests in the region.” As a result U.S. personnel in Benghazi were woefully vulnerable because the Obama administration didn’t “direct a change in military force posture,” the new report states.

Judicial Watch has been a leader in investigating the Benghazi terrorist attack and has published two in-depth reports on the deadly raid. Read them here and here. JW has a number of pending lawsuits and public-records requests related to the incident and it was JW that obtained the first photos depicting the devastating aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi as well as details of the inexperienced foreign company hired to protect the American compound. The State Department paid the virtually unknown British firm $794,264 for nearly 50,000 guard hours, according to the records obtained in the course of JW’s ongoing Benghazi probe.






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  • William J.

    Dated February 12, 2014 and yet FOX news and the rest of the WHIMPCON media fail to ask members of CONGRESS about this matter and call for a public investigation. Are they doing anything behind the scenes or are they waiting on MSNBC to break the news, lol! Seems to me that if Obama were a Republican this story would be headline news but even the CONMEDIA are afraid to ask tough questions and continue to follow up. MSNBC would have never let this go just like Bridgegate’s Chris Christie…..its only a crime if a conservative or GOP did it! Its because we’ve elected whimps, wussies and fools and the media are just like them. Is it FOX news or Sheeple news?? Hard to tell, pass the word!

  • Edwardjoie

    So,,, let’s get this straight,, The House Armed Services Committee on Oversight,, Blasted Military Leaders for basically “Not Being Prepaired” and sights The Obama Administration for Ignoring the “Dramatically Detiorating Security Situation” since there were growing threats in the days leading up to,,,, so now everybody just goes home to enjoy the private lives’.. NO ONE WAS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.. AGAIN..!!! wHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE..

  • Dixon

    Greece, a NATO ally, has at least one, possibly two, F-16 squadrons stationed at Souda Bay on Crete which is about an hour flight from Benghazi. We could have asked Greece for armed or even unarmed overflights of Benghazi that night or to refuel our aircraft flying out of Italy. Apparently none of those alternatives were ever considered.

  • Echosierra

    The Gulf of Oman is adjacent to the Indian Ocean Not right next door. The Naval Air Station In Sigonella Sicily is plenty close and has served as a marshaling point for U.S. forces in the past. What people should ask is why dedicated assets weren’t pre – positioned as they were under Ronald Reagan during the years of conflict in Lebanon. That President knew the dangers his diplomats faced.

  • beaver06

    What about the location of other NATO forces? Were there any British, French, or Italian assets in close proximity? It is unfathomable that our DOD & European Command does not coordinate with our allies to allocate forces in the Mediterranean.

  • chewinmule

    Were there no mission specific units, such as Rapid Response Teams, like say in NAS Sig, Italy., or others around the Med. I want to know the answer re, land based elements dedicated and in place for exactly the event type as Benghazi. I retired in1981 from the Submarine Navy and I know for a fact, NAS Sig, in Italy had just such a force that could be in the air in less than 30 minutes. It was automatic on receipt of an “in extremis” message, the one broadcast by Stevens/Smith that went . Well you folks know where all it went. I am saying the team would be airborne and on their way, after 30 minutes time, to datum. They would routinely be given a “Cross Border Authorization” while airborne which would be required to enter Libya’s airspace. Only the President can give this authorization.In General Hamm’s closed door testimony, according to Rep Jason Chavetz,(R-Ut); ” I can tell you this, Sir. We had proximity. We had capability. We never received authorization to proceed.” WTF people?

  • dkpickard1

    Conveniently overlooked by whoever in the Navy said that the carriers were “many days way”, is tge demonstrated fact that 3,200 miles is nothing to air fuelable strike fighters along with their refueling aircraft – all of which are assigned to every American carrier. So the question still remains: was the military incompetent or ordered to stand down. (Hint – our Navy is not now, nor has it ever been incompetent.)