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Feifdoms and warlords


By Col. Stan Gudmundson

Fri, Nov 9th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Col. Stan Gudmundson

By the time this letter is printed we shall know who will be president for the next four years. If it is Romney then this letter will help to reaffirm why he was elected. If it is Obama then it will help explain why the majority of Americans made another huge mistake.

It has to do with the appalling presidential dereliction of duty at Benghazi. First however, I need to provide bit of a tutorial.

The military has divided the entire earth into what are called “Areas of Responsibility (AORs). I call these “fiefdoms.” Each AOR is commanded by a four star Admiral or General. These guys I call “warlords.” Each has a headquarters and a staff to support them. That means they also have created a variety of standing plans to meet contingencies.

For example, NORTHCOM (short for Northern Command) is North America, SOUTHCOM is Latin and South America, EUCOM includes Europe and Russia, CENTCOM covers the Middle East, PACOM is responsible for the Pacific Region, and AFRICOM has responsibilities in for Africa. AFRICOM’s headquarters is in Germany.

The chain of command for each of these AORs runs from President to the Secretary of Defense and then to the four-star commander Warlord. These Warlords are our military’s combatant commanders. This means that the Pentagon, Joint Chiefs of Staff (that includes all of the heads of each service), and other agencies to include the State Department, CIA and so on are not in the chain of command.

Unless the Fiefdom is actively involved in military operations, they generally don’t have many actual forces assigned to them. Some do though as in the case of AFRICOM. AFRICOM had special forces people and equipment to include airplanes on alert in Sigonella, Italy to respond to contingencies such as the terrorist attack in Benghazi.

Within minutes of the attack on Benghazi a “FLASH” message was sent out. These are the highest priority of all messages. The world comes to stop to deal with these once received. That would also include any other AORs besides AFRICOM and would be most pertinent to EUCOM who is the closest AOR that could actually help AFRICOM. Others would be standing by to assist if necessary.

Insofar as it goes, Hillary Clinton was correct when she said she is responsible for embassy security. Her response however, in disagreeable effort to take the blame, is valid only for everyday operations. Moreover, actual security of our consulates and embassies is the responsibility of the host country. Given the chaotic situation in Libya, especially in Benghazi, host nation assistance would not be and was not reliable. Britain and other countries had previously closed their diplomatic missions there because they thought the situation too dangerous.

But what is really atrocious is that the US had military forces, as I have said, on alert in Sigonella on Sicily. Their role was and is to respond to a crisis in the AFRICOM AOR. They are required to respond in minutes.

That means that they could have been in Benghazi in an hour or so. AC-130s gunships could have isolated that compound and killed any enemy combatants within hundreds of yards. Moreover, we have F-16s in Italy proper who could have been providing air cover for any other possible threats.

Since this assault went on for something on the order of six hours, there is no reason whatsoever that our military could not have saved the lives of Americans at that compound. This event was a dereliction of duty that is as extreme as any that have occurred in my life time.

What all of this means is that one of only three people could have prevented a military response to rescue Americans in Benghazi. The AFRICOM commander, the Secretary of Defense, or the President. The idea that the Pentagon, that is not in the chain of command, didn’t have enough information to respond is as bogus as Bill Clinton’s fidelity to Hillary.

The four-star commander could have stopped any operational response himself. The problem with that idea is that he could not make that decision independently, and if he did that in contravention to the National Command Authority (NCA - that is the president and secretary of defense), he would be charged with failure to follow direct orders. He would be subject to court-martial. He would have already been relieved of command. This scenario is highly improbable.

The next guy in that sequence is Panetta. Had he stopped a military response that contravened Obama’s orders, then he should have been forced to resign immediately or he would have been fired. This is also very unlikely.

That leaves Obama as the only possible person who could have prevented the military from stopping the murder of American citizens. He personally owns this. Totally.

That is what we see at the top of our “food chain” and we are furious. By we I mean those of who are or were in the military. Many in the State Department are none too happy either. Most of us had always assumed that we could always trust our leaders to do what is right, within the bounds of our human limitations of course, but this is in a category of malevolent behavior we cannot understand nor fathom.

I hope that this finds that the American people have “court-martialed” Obama at ballot box for, among other things, this incredible dereliction of duty.

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6:42:47, Nov 13th 2012

Andrew Thorby says:
While I commend Colonel Gudmunson for a heartfelt analysis of what went wrong in Benghazi it seems to me that any critique of that fateful evening must take into consideration the "fog of war". Perhaps the White House just didn't have enough actionable information to initiate a unilateral military action in a sovereign nation. Mistakes made? Without doubt. Dereliction of duty? Maybe. The most extreme dereliction of duty in my lifetime? I'd have to go with launching a war of choice in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of people including many of our finest young men and women while draining the treasury of over a trillion dollars all on the pretext of WMD's that never existed - but hey, that's just me.