Reflections from a Lonely Rooftop in Benghazi

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As the story unfolds about the heroism of the diplomatic security officer (Conservative Report declines using names out of respect to safety) who was gravely wounded and lost a leg in the second wave of fighting in the debacle now simply called “Benghazi”, the general public deserves to know the experience of this man and his colleagues Glen Dougherty and Tyrone Woods.

But to totally appreciate what this unnamed ARSO (Assistant Regional Security Officer) endured on that lonely rooftop, so far from home, let’s look back at what he had done just before, starting after supper at the CIA Compound just down the street.

After a state dinner was held, where the Turkish General Counsel was hosted by Ambassador Chris Stevens, a not so unexpected terrorist attack began. At that time, there were five ARSO’s who held their post against an estimated 60 terrorists.

AC-130U Spectre in Tripoli at 2am on 9/12/2012

The ARSO who was wounded on that rooftop was also the one who searched the villa that had been set fire and retrieved the body of Sean Smith. In vehicles he and his colleagues retreated and moved the 20-odd diplomatic staff to the supposedly safe location of the CIA Annex, under intense small arms fire.

Think about it. Twelve to one odds against you, searching inside a building already on fire, retreating and protecting civilians and escaping to what you expect to be a “safe house”. A little more dramatic that rush hour traffic.

When they arrive at the CIA Annex, five ARSO’s on temporary duty from their military specialty were met by two diplomatic staff who were on temporary duty from their Navy SEAL Team. Defensive positions were set up and the logistics of  evacuating the civilians and , likely, expecting to be reinforced and resupplied.

To secure the perimeter and gain the tactical advantage of “high ground”, the ARSO and the two SEALS we know to be Ty Woods and Glen Dougherty proceeded to the roof to take up positions and “recon” any terrorist activity that might be mounted against their positions.

As the late evening became night, and night approached early morning, terrorists were taking up offensive positions “across the street”. Continued communication went out requesting reinforcement, that we now know fell on deaf Presidential ears. Small arms fire was exchanged. Through infrared goggles, the three operators ascertained that mortars were being set in place. Requests went out for tactical air support, likely the aircraft of choice, the Spector gunship whose 20 MM cannons are guided by the laser designators that were positioned on the rooftop.

Imagine the experience for a moment. You’ve escaped a direct gun battle where you were outnumbered twelve to one, you saved about 20 civilians and you recovered the body of a civilian employee, but you couldn’t find an ambassador…an ambassador. Your colleagues are shot up from the initial gunfight, and are downstairs attending their wounds while making plans for the ultimate evacuation, necessary to effect safety.

The situation intensifies:

Sp Forces thumbFire at will“!! Shoot and move…create the perception of greater force…make every shot count…more shooting…more return fire…you see them setting up mortar tubes…positioned…you know they are setting up to drop a barrage on you…increase fire…at the mortar crews…keep their heads down…keep their heads down…”WHERE’S OUR FUCKING SPECTRE”?!? …One mortar round off…wait…an explosion off target…”SHIT!! IT’S A REGISTRATION ROUND”!!

Mortars are portable ordnance that are not fired with a sight like a gun. Instead a “test round” is fired, referred to as a “registration round”. Then the mortar tubes are “dialed in”, and accuracy is achieved. Every soldier worth is salt knows that only seconds exist between the registration round and hell on earth falling on your head.

Cover fire…cover fire…keep their heads down…”Tyrone, paint em with the laser, maybe it scares them off”…fire…move… fire….move …explosion rocks the rooftop..second explosion rocks the rooftop….

Fire ceases. Two SEALS lay dead, and our ARSO has mortal wounds that will ultimately cost him his leg….Calls go out for help…wounded ARSO’s from the inside of the Annex…”Get em off the f#*&in’s roof..get em…those tubes are dialed in…move out..”…

Three of the remaining ARSO’s went to the roof, knowing full well that they were walking into “dialed in” mortar tubes. In their business, no one is left behind. Danger is not an issue.

Obama walks away

Only honor and tradition matter, “the man to the right of you, and the man to the left of you.”

And all the while those men were rushing upstairs, into the possible teeth of death, to honor their commitment to their brethren, the President of the United States climbed stairs as well….off to go to bed….

And there were our men, left stranded on a lonely rooftop in Benghazi…..