Sunday, September 28, 2014

Courage and Honor in the Benghazi Battles

by Bill Schanefelt

If you’re looking for a compelling read you need look no further than the tale told by the “Shooters” of their fights to rescue, defend, and evacuate the survivors of the 2012 Benghazi assaults.

It is an extraordinary and exciting first-hand account of the courageous and honorable actions of a few men (hereinafter called “the rescuers”) who took it upon themselves to do their duty and act---some of them against orders---when others did not, could not, or would not act.

By (as put by them) “doing their duty,” their actions managed to save comrades who were in distress and then, similarly, saved and extracted themselves and many others from dire circumstances.

The book also debunks and refutes the “official accounts” of the events with which we have been saddled these many months and about which I have written extensively here, here, here, and elsewhere

But it leaves unanswered such important questions as who the assaulters were, the assaulters’ motives and ends, and why the assaulters broke off and resumed assaults several times during the 13 hours.

By now, most readers of this piece will have viewed or read one or more interviews with the book’s authors or seen or read accounts of the book’s contents.  However, most of those interviews and accounts zero in on the controversial “stand-down” orders, lack of aid from the outside, and other peripheral matters.

On the other hand, the book itself is an almost minute-by-minute tick-tock of the, literal, steps taken by the rescuers as they prepared for and carried out their actions at the Special Mission Compound (SMC) and its associated Annex.

For example, for the first time (to my knowledge) we learn that once the rescuers finally left the Annex, they subsequently dismounted and linked up with some friendly Libyans some four hundred yards from the SMC and then proceeded, on foot, to shoot themselves into the SMC. 

We also learn that many Libyans assisted the rescuers in the SMC as they searched for Ambassador Chris Stephens and State Department Computer Specialist Sean Smith and gathered up and evacuated the survivors within the SMC.

The book also does not supply any revelations as to the goings-on at and purpose of the Annex, but it does seem to, subtly, suggest that a massive arms transfer operation was not going on at the Annex itself.  That is, the book reveals that there just were too few people of the right type at the Annex, and that the facilities described in the book would not be appropriate to support such doings.

The book also gives lie to the common notion that the mortars that killed Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were fired by “a well-trained and highly-skilled team.”  The mortars were just one part of one of the come-and-go assaults by the pick-up group of attackers.

Additionally, we learn that there was at least one female agent at the Annex.  Now, I’m not making the sexist suggestion that a female operative would be inappropriate for an arms transfer operation---she was apparently involved with other, quite-open dealings with local officials.

In fact, the reason one of the rescuers (“Oz” Geist) was not in on the actions at the SMC was because he was escorting the female agent to a private dinner with one such official and his wife at their residence in town at the time of the events at the SMC.

Indeed, it was quite fortunate that “Oz” was so engaged at the time, for it allowed him to organize the defense of the Annex after he and the female agent hastily returned to the Annex once “Oz” learned what was going on elsewhere in Benghazi.

That he had to do so attests to the woeful inadequacies and ineptitude of those in authority at the Annex before, during, and after the actions of those 13 hours.

And I would be remiss not to relate that the female agent quite unselfishly exposed herself to danger in supplying the shooters with food and beverages during the defense of the Annex, particularly when others who could have and should have been so doing (or otherwise participating in the defense) crouched uselessly within the Annex buildings during the several engagements with the assaulters.

I urged here that readers not buy an earlier, farcical, and factually-challenged book on the events, but I strongly urge readers to buy this one because it is, without doubt, the real deal: I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

And those who buy the book will learn about its real hero: Henry, the aging document-translator who shakily obeyed when he had a gun thrust into his palms and told to “suit up and get in the car” because he was going to go into combat for the first time in his life!

Bill Schanefelt is retired; his profile may be found on LinkedIn, and he may be argued with at


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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