National Command Authority

There were TWO stand down orders issued during the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

Ready-to-respond special forces on the ground in Tripoli and at American military bases in Southern Europe were prepared to depart to reinforce and evacuate the remaining American citizens in Benghazi.  They were not just delayed – they were told to STAND DOWN.

Quick review of the chain of command here, because that order must come from above.  Not knowing which special forces units were ready in Southern Europe, I will speculate that they were likely DELTA teams, but it is possible that Airborne, Ranger,  or Green Beret teams were the units within range and able to respond for a critical need.

DELTA teams are part of the US Army, but fall under US Army Special Operations Command as do the Airborne, Ranger, and Green Beret units mentioned above. USSOCOM, U.S. Special Operations Command, is the joint forces command of all Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps special forces units.

USASOC Command Structure

Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, Commanding General

Brig. Gen. Darsie D. Rogers, Jr., Deputy Commanding General

Major Richard Holcomb, Deputy to the Commanding General

USSOCOM Command Structure

Admiral William H. McRaven, Commanding Officer

A parallel command may be involved as well.  USAFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) would be the theater command for any actions occurring on the African continent.  General Carter Ham, Commanding General of USAFRICOM, was relieved of his command during the events of September 11, 2012.  The specifics of his relief have to-date been concealed.

Another option was a Department of State FEST (Foreign Emergency Support Team) program.  A FEST team can depart for anywhere in the world in four hours notice per the State Department’s website.

So where am I going with this?

The military, and all response forces that could have been summoned or dispatched answer to a chain of command.  The officers in charge of these units would have relayed requests for permission to deploy forces under their command up the chain of command.

Given the nature of the incident, an ongoing terrorist attack against sovereign US soil (the consulate grounds) and American citizens, and the Ambassador to a foreign nation, whose whereabouts were unknown early on in the timetable of the attack and aftermath.

In this respect, the bureaucracy is a finely tuned machine in that information would rapidly flow up the chain of command while the commanders would relay orders to prepare their units to deploy in support of the Benghazi mission, our people on the ground, and the Ambassador who clearly relayed “We are under attack” to his Deputy Chief of Mission in Tripoli.  The Secretary of Defense, Vice President and President would be notified of the attack very quickly.

The National Command Authority is the term used to identify the President as Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense as the final arbiters and decision-makers in terms of activating and releasing the military might of the United States.

An attack on the consulate is tantamount to an attack on Tampa Bay, Florida and the President alone is the only person who could authorize responsive forces.  He has said that he authorized all resources to come to the aid of our people in Benghazi on that day, but the truth is inconvenient to this flat out lie.  A stand down order, of which many were issued and testified to yesterday before the House Oversight Committee, could only have been issued by the National Command Authority.  Any other source of such an order would lack the authority since the attack in question was an act of war.

Who issued the stand down orders then, the President or the Secretary of Defense?

 

 

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