National Security

Benghazi Backup Never Got The Order To Deploy

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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A member of a U.S. Air Force squadron based in Italy has claimed he and his team could have come to the rescue of U.S. personnel under fire in Benghazi, but they never received the order.

The airman, who has maintained anonymity out of fear of retribution, told Fox News the squadron aircraft were armed, fueled and ready to provide support to the U.S. personnel at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the night of Sept. 11, 2012. He recounted what he saw that night, saying “that flight line was full of people, and we were all ready to go.”

“The whole night we were told that we are waiting on a call,” said the airman. That call never came.

The airman and his squadron were stationed at the U.S. base in Aviano, Italy, approximately 1,000 miles from Benghazi. His account contradicted various government reports which claimed U.S. planes could not have reached the U.S. personnel in time. A primary reason cited by a military report said because a refueling tanker was not available, air support was an impossibility. The airman countered this claim saying U.S. aircraft regularly utilize what is called a “hot pit maneuver,” which allows an aircraft to be refueled on the ground while its engine is running.

“I definitely believe that our aircraft could have taken off and gotten there in a timely manner, maybe three hours at the most, in order to at least stop that second mortar attack … and basically save lives that day,” said the airman.

The lack of support left the small team in Benghazi to fend for themselves through two waves of terrorist attacks. The first attack led to the deaths of information officer Sean Smith and Ambassador Chris Stephens, whose body was brutally mutilated by the attackers. The second wave killed two former U.S. Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who were part of the CIA Global Response Staff (GRS) security team which responded to the attacks.

“We could have been there. That’s the worst part,” said the airman, who noted many in his squadron feel the same way and have wanted to speak out regarding the events. The squadron would not learn of the mission they missed out on until they saw reports of the Benghazi attacks on the news the next day.

“For some reason they were all shut down, and I think it leads back to a policymaker somewhere because nobody in the military is going to shut down an operation,” said Mike, a former member of a U.S. Army Special Forces counter-terror reaction force, also known as a CIF, to Fox News. “We had hours and hours and hours to do something … and we did nothing.”

A recent revelation from a Freedom of Information Act request has shown Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash was willing to offer military assistance to the State Department, saying military forces were “spinning up as we speak” to assist in Benghazi.

In an exclusive interview with, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, a member of the GRS team who survived the Beghazi attacks, has placed blame at the top of the political hierarchy.

“Hillary [Clinton] screwed up; that’s not our fault. She doesn’t see the effect the event had on families and still has on families,” said Paronto.

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