The Defense Department has cooperated fully with Congress and the State Department on the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the death of four U.S. citizens, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said May 8.
A number of panels on Capitol Hill are examining the incident, which occurred September 11, 2012.
DOD officials provided a full accounting of military actions, ìbefore, during and afterî the attack. ìThe fact remains – as we have repeatedly indicated – that United States forces could not have arrived in time to mount a rescue of those Americans killed or injured that night,î Little said.
The attacks killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
The U.S. military responded quickly to notifications of the attack on the Benghazi consulate, the spokesman said.
Little specifically addressed what military personnel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli were doing during the attack. Special operations personnel, he said, were in Libya in general support of embassy security and to aid the movement of embassy personnel.
Little reiterated that two service members did go from Tripoli to Benghazi that evening. These personnel were members of a quick reaction force quickly put together.
We also had four personnel who continued a mission in Tripoli to support the relocation of American embassy personnel to that location,î Little said. ìThis is against a backdrop of uncertainty and concerns of threats to diplomatic installations throughout the region.
The four personnel stayed in the area to relocate American embassy personnel from various embassy facilities to a U.S. embassy annex in Tripoli, Little said.
These four personnel attempted to travel to Benghazi. ìThe team leader of this four-man unit, called Special Operations Command – Africa to tell them that the movement of personnel to the annex was complete,î Little said. ìHe then reported his intention to move his team to Benghazi aboard a Libyan C-130.
But by this time, the mission in Benghazi had shifted to evacuation. The higher command directed the team leader ìto continue providing support to the embassy in Tripoli,î Little said.
We continue to believe there was nothing this team could have done to assist during the second attack in Benghazi, he added.
The four-man team remained in Tripoli and played a key role in receiving, treating and moving the wounded from Benghazi.