Thursday, December 26, 2013

When the Designated Reaction Force is Committed

We've deployed our designated emergency military reserve to the Horn of Africa in case our diplomats and citizens need rescue in South Sudan. So everybody else is back to Benghazi status.

South Sudan is carrying on the African tradition of fighting madly for what little there is. There's oil to add incentive to this game. Our people there could get caught in the crossfire.

So we've deployed our Spain-based Marine force designated as the military reaction force in the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on our diplomatic and CIA missions in Benghazi:

The United States has sent 150 Marines to a military base in Djibouti to respond as needed to the crisis in South Sudan. Repositioning of soldiers comes after four U.S. soldiers were wounded during an evacuation operation in Jonglei state.

The U.S. military’s Africa command, known as AFRICOM, said Tuesday that soldiers have arrived at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti from an airbase in Spain.

AFRICOM said this is the first time the Marine Air-Ground Task Force has deployed to Africa in support of an operational mission.

A spokesman for AFRICOM, Benjamin Benson, said the movement is based on the “possibility of threats against U.S. personnel and facilities” in South Sudan. “By positioning these forces forward we’re able to more quickly able to respond to a crisis in the region, if required,” he said.

You remember, we said we had no assets to deploy to Benghazi in time to do any good:

What I do know is that when we learned our people were under attack, we didn't try to help them. Well, except for the pathetically few civilian security personnel under State Department control who immediately moved toward the sounds of the guns to see what they could do.

With tens of thousands of troops in nearby Europe, we didn't even put in motion a single effing platoon of something--anything--to get to Benghazi in case we could do something.

We didn't send any combat aircraft just to buzz the area as a warning that more power was on the way--even if it was a bluff.

But apparently we couldn't even get a platoon-sized base reaction force into the air to reach Benghazi in a few hours with the balance of a company following an hour or two later--with a battalion gathering as that was done. ...

But we did not even try to react. If it was because we didn't have forces specifically earmarked for embassy rescue, that's a stunning indictment of a military or civilian leadership that doesn't really think of itself as at war.

If we didn't react because we didn't have a week to polish a plan complete with PowerPoint presentations to make it look nice and glossy, that's a stunning indictment of our leadership.

Because if our senior people felt we were at war, they would have scraped up cooks and typists--and even the officers who usually make PowerPoint presentations--to send to the sound of the guns if that is all they had.

So we set up the Marine force. Rather than explain why we didn't send forces to Benghazi, we claimed we couldn't, and then set up a Marine force as if the problem was a matter of capabilities rather than leadership decisions.

And now that force is committed to a South Sudan mission, sitting in Djibouti. So it can respond more quickly to a crisis inside South Sudan.

So every other diplomatic facility around the Mediterranean Sea basin that might have called on that force is on its own for a longer period of time, apparently, reliant on the same leadership that failed September 11, 2012, at Benghazi.

Because now--like on September 11, 2012--we are unable to scrape up any military power from the tens of thousand of troops we station in Europe. That's their story and they're sticking to it.