Despite stonewalling and sabotage by Democrats, Trey Gowdy’s Special Committee to Investigate Benghazi came out with an important report. He put it in a nutshell–you can’t argue about whether or not help could have arrived in time because no assets, other than military drones overhead, moved to the sound of gunfire.
But it is also clear from the portions of the report that I have read that Gowdy and his committee, including the staffers, really did not know what questions to ask and how to properly press witnesses on discrepancies.
The most problematic testimony in my view is what then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated (I presume under oath):
[T]he Secretary recalls the following guidance:
The President made clear that we ought to use all of the resources at our disposal to try to make sure we did everything possible to try to save lives there.
Immediately following the meeting with the President, at roughly 6:00 p.m., the Secretary and Dempsey returned to the Pentagon and convened a meeting that included Ham who was in Washington D.C. at the time, and relevant members of the Secretary’s staff and the Joint Staff.
During the meeting, three distinct capabilities were identified to deploy in response to the attacks in Benghazi: two FAST platoons, the CIF, and the U.S. SOF, capable of response to crises worldwide.279 Again, the Secretary was not aware, and was not told, of any assets in Tripoli. . . .
According to the Secretary, within an hour of his return to the Pentagon, he issued an order to deploy the identified assets.
Here is the problem with this statement–Panetta does not issue “Deployment Orders.” That is done by CJCS under the authority of Panetta. Key question–Where is the Deployment Order? I want you to recall this Crisis Action Planning chart that I posted in a previous piece:
To reiterate–a “Deployment Order” is issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the authority of the SECDEF. Panetta could not have issued a Deployment Order. There will be an actual written message and it should carry a Date Time Group corresponding to the time he claims he issued such an order, but it will be under the signature of the CJCS Martin Dempsey. The Deployment Order is best described as a type of Planning Order (see Phase IV above):
At any time during CAP, the NCA may find it desirable to prepare selected units for possible military action. They increase unit readiness by designating alert conditions or ordering a specified deployability posture to reduce the response time of selected forces. Increased readiness actions may be taken during any phase. Deployment Preparation Orders and Deployment Orders are used to increase . . . deployability posture, deploy . . . forces, establish . . . joint task forces and their headquarters, or signal U.S. intent to undertake . . . action. . . .
(a) The Deployment Preparation Order and the Deployment Order are ad- dressed to all combatant commanders and the National Security Agency/Central Security Services. The Secretary of State, the White House Situation Room, and appropriate oth- ers receive copies.
(b) The format for both of these orders is in JOPES Volume I. They include all necessary information to deploy the forces, if it is not already given in other planning guidance documents from CJCS. The order takes the following overall outline:
1. clear statement that it is a Deployment Preparation/Deployment Order issued under the authorization of the Secretary of Defense
5. administration and logistics
6. command and signal
Here is what the JOPES Manual stipulates about the “Deployment Order:”
2. When Issued. The DEPLOYMENT PREPARATION or DEPLOYMENT ORDER will be issued upon decision of the NCA to commence preparations for the conduct of a military operation (see Figure G-1). It may be issued at any point in the CAP development process. DEPLOYMENT PREPARATION or DEPLOYMENT ORDERs may be incorporated within WARNING ORDERs, PLANNING ORDERs, and ALERT ORDERs, if appropriate, and approved by the NCA.
3. How Issued. The DEPLOYMENT PREPARATION or DEPLOYMENT ORDER is normally issued by record communication using a precedence of IMMEDIATE or FLASH. If the situation is sufficiently time-sensitive, voice communication or WIN teleconference can be used first to pass information. A record communication will be forwarded as soon as practicable.
Here is what a “Deployment Order” should look like (Note–it is issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff not the Secretary of Defense–See G-2-1):
APPENDIX 2 TO ANNEX G SAMPLE FORMAT FOR CJCS DEPLOYMENT ORDER
(PRECEDENCE) FROM: CJCS WASHINGTON DC TO: USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL* USCINCLANT NORFOLK VA USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE CINCFOR FT MCPHERSON GA USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI USCINCSPACE PETERSON AFB CO USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS PM USCINCSOC MACDILL AFB FL USCINCSTRAT OFFUTT AFB NE USCINCTRANS SCOTT AFB IL DIRNSA FT GEORGE G MEADE MD HQ ACC LANGLEY AFB VA//CC// INFO WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM WASHINGTON DC SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP-CH/ASD:PA// DISTR: SJS-N/CJCS:PA/J1/J3/J4/J5/J6/J6Z/J7/J8/NMCC:DDO/NIDS/ DOCDIV ____________ * AIG 8790 will normally be used in CAP messages. Action addressees in the AIG are CINCs and DIRNSA. The C2 paragraph will designate supported and supporting commanders. Information addressees will include the Services and other interested commands and agencies. Component commanders may be included as information addressees to speed dissemination and facilitate planning. CSA WASHINGTON DC CNO WASHINGTON DC CSAF WASHINGTON DC CMC WASHINGTON DC CDRUSELNORAD PETERSON AFB CO HQ AMC SCOTT AFB IL//CC// DISA WASHINGTON DC DIA WASHINGTON DC DLA CAMERON STATION VA HQ DMA FAIRFAX VA CIA WASHINGTON DC CENTRAL IMAGERY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC CDRMTMC FALLS CHURCH VA COMSC WASHINGTON DC COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC COMUSARCENT FT MCPHERSON GA USCENTAF SHAW AFB SC//CC// COMUSNAVCENT CINCLANTFLT NORFOLK VA CG FMFLANT USTRANSCOM LO MACDILL AFB FL CINCPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI CINCPACAF HICKAM AFB HI CG FMFPAC CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK CDRJCSE MACDILL AFB FL JOINT STAFF ICP MANAGER MACDILL AFB FL CLASSIFICATION OPER/BLUENOSE//MSGID/ORDER/CJCS// AMPN/SPECIAL HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS// REF/A/ORDER/CJCS/211742ZNOV__/-/NOTAL// REF/B/MSG/USCINCCENT/242100ZNOV__/-/NOTAL// REF/C/ORDER/CJCS/270300ZNOV__/-/NOTAL// NARR/CJCS WARNING ORDER, COMMANDERS ESTIMATE OF THE SITUATION, ALERT ORDER// ORDTYP/DEPLOYORD/CJCS// TIMEZONE/Z// NARR/( ) THIS IS A DEPLOYMENT ORDER. THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAS AUTHORIZED THE DEPLOYMENT OF US FORCES TO BLUELAND IN ANTICIPATION(OR SUPPORT) OF MILITARY OPERATIONS.// GENTEXT/SITUATION/ 1. ( ) SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER.//GENTEXT/MISSION/ 2. ( ) SEE CJCS WARNING ORDER, PLANNING ORDER, OR, IF REQUIRED, WRITE A SHORT, CONCISE MISSION STATEMENT.//GENTEXT/EXECUTION/ 3. ( ) USCINCCENT. BEGIN DEPLOYMENT OF FORCES AS DEFINED IN USCINCCENT OPLAN XXXX. EMPLOYMENT OF US FORCES OUTSIDE OF BLUELANDIS WITHHELD PENDING NCA DECISION. 4. ( ) USCINCTRANS. PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SUPPORT AS REQUIRED. PROVIDE AIR REFUELING SUPPORT AS REQUIRED. 5. ( ) COMACC. AS A RESOURCE MANAGER AND WITH THE CONCURRENCE OFTHE FORCES FOR OWNING AND GAINING COMMAND, SOURCE THE FORCES LISTEDBELOW TO MEET USCINCXXX REQUIREMENTS. 6. ( ) OPSEC GUIDANCE. SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER. 7. ( ) PSYOP GUIDANCE. SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER. 8. ( ) CIVIL AFFAIRS GUIDANCE.SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER. 9. ( ) COORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS A. ( ) C-DAY, L-HOUR, 290001Z NOV __. B. ( ) ANTICIPATED LENGTH OF OPERATION. IN EXCESS OF 30 DAYS. C. ( ) USTRANSCOM WILL COORDINATE AND/OR MONITOR DEPLOYMENTS AS REQUIRED BY THE SUPPORTED AND SUPPORTING COMMANDER. D.( )RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER. E. ( ) UNIT MOVE WITH APPROPRIATE MISSION-ORIENTED PROTECTIVEPOSTURE (MOPP) GEAR. F. ( ) DIRLAUTH ALCON. KEEP THE JOINT STAFF INFORMED.// GENTEXT/ADMIN AND LOG/ 10. ( ) AIRLIFT MOVEMENT PRIORITY. 11. ( ) FUNDING FOR TRANSPORTATION COSTS. 12. ( ) FORCE ACTIVITY DESIGNATOR (FAD) WILL BE ISSUED BY APPROPRIATE SERVICES. 13. ( ) PERSONNEL DEPLOYMENT CRITERIA.SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNINGORDER. 14. ( ) REPORTING INSTRUCTIONS. IN ACCORDANCE WITH JOINT PUBS 1-03.8 AND 6-04. AFTER-ACTION REPORTING IN ACCORDANCE WITH JOINT PUB 1-03.30. 15.( ) CLASSIFICATION GUIDANCE.SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER. 16. ( ) PUBLIC AFFAIRS. SEE CJCS WARNING OR PLANNING ORDER. 17. ( ) THE USE OF JOPES IS DIRECTED. 18. ( ) KNOWN LOGISTIC CONSTRAINTS.// GENTEXT/COMMAND AND SIGNAL/ 19. ( ) COMMUNICATIONS GUIDANCE. USCINCCENT (THE SUPPORTED COMMANDER) WILL ASSIST DEPLOYING UNITS WITH FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS AS REQUIRED AND WILL BE PREPARED TO RECOMMEND RELATIVE PRIORITIES AND ALLOCATE SATELLITE CHANNELS AND CIRCUITS WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THIS OPERATION, INCLUDINGTHOSE OF DEPLOYING UNITS. USCINCCENT (THE SUPPORTED COMMANDER) WILL PUBLISH COMSEC GUIDANCE TO ALCON. 20. ( ) COMMAND RELATIONSHIPS. STATE SUPPORTED AND SUPPORTING CINCS, RESOURCE MANAGERS, AND SUPPORTING AGENCIES, AS APPROPRIATE.ALSO LIST THE NCA-APPROVED (OR THOSE PROPOSED FOR APPROVAL) COMMAND RELATIONSHIPS THE GAINING COMMANDER WILL EXERCISE OVER TRANSFERRED FORCES AND THE LOCATIONS WHERE THE TRANSFER WILL BE EFFECTIVE (NORMALLY THE AOR BOUNDARY).// AKNLDG/Y//DECL/OADR//
It would appear that Panetta, despite his claims to the contrary, never actually saw the real Deployment Order until after 8:50 pm Washington, DC time. More importantly, the Deputies Committee did not recommend moving any troops or assets to Benghazi.
The Gowdy report clearly shows on p. I-21 that the actual Deployment Order was not issued until 8:53pm:
One Point of clarification: the unclassified timeline has the SecDef Vocal Order (VOCO) for moving response forces at 0000-0200. This authorization was relayed and recorded at 0239 for FAST and CIF and at 0253 for [the U.S. SOF]. This is not to imply that timing of the VOC as reflected in the unclassified timeline is inaccurate, but rather that receipt of this vocal order at [sic] was at 0239 and 0253, respectively.”).
At 8:39 p.m., more than five hours after the attacks in Benghazi began, and more than two hours after the Secretary gave his order to deploy the Pentagon finally transmitted orders to the combatant commands regard-ing the FAST platoons, the CIF, and the U.S. Based Special Operations Force.390 Specifically, the FAST platoons were ordered to “prepare to deploy.”391 The CIF and the U.S. Based Special Operations Force were ordered to deploy to an intermediate staging base.392 No asset was ordered to deploy to Benghazi.393
Tidd provided authorization for each of those forces to move in an email transmitting the orders at 8:53 p.m. [2:53 a.m. in Benghazi]. The email reads in relevant part:
discussions at Deputies, and followed up between [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and the Chairman –
[The Secretary of Defense] has directed deployment of the CIF to the [intermediate staging base] determined most suitable by AFRICOM …
[The Secretary of Defense] has directed deployment of the [U.S. Based Special Operations Force] to the same [intermediate stag- ing base] as the CIF.
[The Secretary of Defense] has directed FAST to make all preps to deploy but hold departure until we are sure we have clearance to land in Tripoli. We’ll work with State to nail that down, but intent is to get security force augmentation into [Tripoli/Tripoli] (not Benghazi, at least not initially) ASAP. Embassy making ef- forts to move all [American citizens] from [Annex] Compound Benghazi to Tripoli, possibly using same [commercial] Air that 5-pax team arrived on.
Remember [the Secretary of Defense] holds final approval to de- ploy FAST, pending receipt of Tripoli country clearance. But the point is to get the Marines on the ground securing the embassy in Tripoli as rapidly as we can move them.394
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that this Crisis Action Planning process is regularly and annually exercised by all U.S. military commands and the inter-agency community. Why? You do not want to wait until the house is on fire to prepare on fighting and preventing a fire.
I personally have participated in the scripting and execution of more 200 such exercises over the last 22 years. I am not offering an opinion here. The process of actually moving U.S. military forces was delayed by the Deputies Committee. And Hillary Clinton and her staff, including Pat Kennedy, the Under Secretary for Management, played a key role in delaying action. That was the body that should have clarified the objectives of the military operation and the rules of engagement. Gowdy’s report, however, makes it very clear that the Deputies Committee spent more time on political spin and preparing for the damage control from what they knew clearly was a terrorist attack. They chose, instead, to portray it as a reaction to a silly video.
I also want to reiterate a point I have made in prior postings–while the Deputies Committee dithered the attacks on the CIA Annex continued. The terrorists did not provide us with a schedule of their planned attacks. They did not announce that they were calling off attacks. And, more importantly, Ambassador Stevens was missing. All of this provided ample justification for moving U.S. military forces to rescue the besieged Americans. That did not happen.
It is unfortunate that Gowdy and his staff lacked the basic understanding of these principles of Crisis Action Planning. I admit it can be pretty esoteric stuff, but it is a process created based on prior experience from other terrorist attacks. There is one obvious conclusion that Gowdy and company failed to identify–the Obama Administration did not take full advantage of the JOPES doctrine and decided not to use the established Crisis Action planning to put U.S. forces into Benghazi. No substantive action was taken to come to the aid of our personnel who were under attack. It is not a matter of someone giving a “Stand Down” order. None were ordered to Stand Up. You cannot Stand Down if you have not first Stood Up.