Pentagon Officials: Anti-Aircraft Weapons Prevented Possibility Of Air Force Aid In Benghazi

A silhouette of a Palestinian militant from the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigade, the armed wing of Hamas, carries a Man Portable Air Defence System (MANPAD) during a march in Gaza City on September 14, 2013.

TEL AVIV – The threat of man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADs, would have prevented aircraft from flying into Benghazi the night of the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Special Mission and nearby CIA Annex, according to two senior Pentagon officials.

Rear Admiral Richard Landolt, the Director for Operations at the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), testified about the MANPAD impediment to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. His testimony was revealed in a 339-page House Democrat report on Benghazi released on Monday.

Also highlighting the MANPAD threat to aircraft the night of the attack was Brigadier General Patrick Mordente, who served as the Deputy Director of Operations for U.S. Transportation Command the night of the attacks.

Unmentioned in the House Democrat report is that the largest terrorist looting of MANPADS took place immediately after the 2011 U.S.-NATO military campaign, strongly pushed by Hillary Clinton, that toppled the Gadhafi regime in Libya.

NATO failed to immediately protect the reserves of MANPADS.

As I reported at the time:

Gadhafi had hoarded Africa’s biggest-known reserve of MANPADS, with a stock said to number between 15,000 and 20,000. Many of the missiles were stolen by militias fighting in Libya, including those backed by the U.S. in their anti-Gadhafi efforts. There were reports of a Western effort to secure the MANPADS, including collecting some from rebels in Libya.

Monday’s report stated the “Select Committee did not identify any credible evidence that any additional asset could have made it to Benghazi in time to change the outcome.”

It summarized Landolt’s testimony about whether aircraft were available the night of the attack, documenting that he “explained that even had the aircraft been available and able to be armed, he likely would not have used it” the night of the attacks.

The report directly quotes Landolt pointing to the MANPAD threat as preventing even hypothetical action by air:

Landolt: But getting back to the MANPADS threat, it’s [the proposed aircraft] not something that I would have wanted to put in harm’s way that night. We had the pred feeds. I don’t know what else I’d need. But if you’re looking at that as a weapon, I wouldn’t have put it in.

Committee Questioner: If you knew there was one in Souda Bay [redacted], would you have used that asset?

Landolt: I doubt it.

“Pred feeds” refer to predator drone aerial footage.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Patrick Mordente served as the Deputy Director of Operations for U.S. Transportation Command, which had operational control of the C-17 transport aircraft that eventually flew in aeromedical evacuation assistance to Tripoli and not to Benghazi.  After the attacks, the C-17 was used to transport the casualties and survivors of the Benghazi attacks from Tripoli to Germany.

The report states Mordente “elaborated on the risks he had to weigh at the command level in deciding whether to send a C-17 transport plane directly into an unknown situation in Benghazi.”

In his testimony, Mordente specifically cited the MANPAD threat.

Q: What kind of risk would this pilot be undertaking if he were to do that?

Mordente: Based on the videos that I saw, probably a very unruly crowd. I’m not quite sure what the situation was on the ground in Benghazi. And who were you going to meet up with? And who was your point of contact?  What kind of MANPAD threat? What kind of small-arms threat? What were all of those? So to say that you could have flown to Benghazi, very, very, you know, that’s looking through a soda straw and not looking at what all goes into a mission setup. And like I said earlier, had we done that, in my opinion, this would have been a different interview. You would have been asking me why I lost a C-17 aircraft and the crew, potentially 117.

Q:  Looking back on the events of that night, is there anything that you believe TRANSCOM could have done differently or should have done differently?

Mordente:  Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

With additional research by Joshua Klein.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.


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