PANETTA EXPLAINS BENGHAZI
Claims Time, Distance, Factors in Response
By Harold Hutchison
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that time and distance considerations had an effect on the response – or lack thereof – to the 11 September, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
“Some have asked why other types of armed aircraft were not dispatched to Benghazi. The reason simply is because armed UAVs, AC- 130 gunships or fixed-wing fighters, with the associated tanking, you've got to provide air refueling abilities; you've got to arm all the weapons before you put them on the planes; targeting and support facilities, were not in the vicinity of Libya. And because of the distance, it would have taken at least nine to 12 hours, if not more, to deploy these forces to Benghazi. This was, pure and simple, in the absence, as I said of any kind of advance warning, a problem of distance and time,” he said during his opening statement.
Panetta’s opening statement also raised warnings about the planned sequestration cuts set to take place on 1 March.
“The Department of Defense faces the prospect of sequestration on March 1st. If Congress fails to act, sequestration is triggered. And if we also must operate under a year-long continuing resolution, we would be faced with having to take about $46 billion-plus out of the defense budget and we would face a $35 billion shortfall in operating funds alone for our active forces, with only a few months remaining in the fiscal year,” Panetta said.