AFRICOM POSTURE STATEMENT:
WASHINGTON, D.C., Mar 9, 2010 — In testimony before Congress March 9, 2010, the commander of U.S. Africa Command provided an overview of the strategic environment in Africa, explained U.S. AFRICOM's strategic approach, and showed how security cooperation efforts promote stability in support of U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.
General William "Kip" Ward testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of an annual requirement for regional military commanders. He was scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on March 10.
Violent extremism by transnational terrorist organizations is a major source of regional instability. In the last year, al-Qaeda and terrorist groups in Africa appear to have strengthened their collaboration.
Al-Qaeda operatives are active in East Africa, while al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operates across the trans-Sahara region of Northern and Western Africa. The leaders of Somalia-based Al-Shabaab have publicly aligned themselves with al-Qaeda, having issued public statements praising Osama Bin Ladin and linking Somalia to al-Qaeda's global operations.
Al-Shabaab also announced its support to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) at the same time that AQAP activities increased in Yemen, separated from Somalia by the 20-mile wide Bab-el-Mandab Strait. Al-Shabaab continues to operate multiple terrorist training camps in Somalia with al-Qaeda participation.
Al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliates also target the United States and our European and African partners across North
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Africa and the Sahel. Terrorist activities, kidnapping, illicit trafficking of all types (humans, weapons, drugs), and the existence of under-governed spaces in the Sahel contribute to the region's vulnerability and make it susceptible to extremist influences.
Counter-terrorism Efforts in North Africa and the Sahel--Operation ENDURING FREEDOM-TRANS SAHARA (OEF-TS)
Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA) conducts OEF-TS to counter the terrorism threat in North and West Africa. OEF-TS supports the DOS-led Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) by increasing our partners' capabilities to deny safe havens to terrorists, improving border security, promoting democratic governance, and reinforcing regional as well as bilateral military ties. OEF-TS activities are designed to defeat violent extremist organizations throughout the region.
U.S. Africa Command works closely with the DOS and U.S. embassies to ensure we provide the military support needed to meet the objectives of TSCTP, including the following major elements: information operations; train, advise and assist activities; intelligence capacity building; coalition development; military exercise programs; and development and establishment of a regional computer-based information network. All OEF-TS activities are closely coordinated with the State Department and our U.S. embassy country teams.
SOCAFRICA remained very active last year with OEF-TS. Military Information Support Teams assisted DOS public diplomacy efforts in countering extremist ideology in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Nigeria. OEF-TS created High Frequency-Radio Tactical Communications Interoperability between Algeria and Niger, and Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) trained new Counter-Terrorism (CT) light infantry companies in Mali. The MTTs also trained existing CT units in Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal. OEF-TS Military Intelligence courses trained students from seven OEF-TS countries, and the Trans-Sahara Security Symposium civil-military course trained nearly 100 students
from four OEF-TS partner countries. Additionally, OEF-TS Civil-Military Support Elements have completed or are planning 79 humanitarian assistance projects.
In the last year, political conditions have allowed us to resume engagement with Mauritania, to include our efforts to build a CT company. Mauritanian security forces lack the capability to logistically sustain themselves during operations. Helping Mauritania develop a logistics capacity will provide Mauritanian security forces with the capability to push supplies and personnel to its forward-deployed CT companies, which operate hundreds of miles away in extremely austere territory. Through U.S. assistance, Mauritania will be able to sustain CT operations within
its borders and in partnership with other regional forces.
Counter-terrorism Efforts in East Africa
In East Africa, U.S. Africa Command's CJTF-HOA conducts operations to counter violent extremists throughout the region to protect U.S. and coalition interests. In cooperation with other USG departments and agencies, CJTF-HOA focuses its operations on building regional security capacity to combat terrorism, deny safe havens, and reduce support to violent extremist organizations. It accomplishes these objectives through the use of Civil Affairs Teams, Seabee construction teams, military advisors, and by importing security courses of instruction.
U.S. Africa Command has focused the majority of its CT capacity building activities in East Africa on Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, which-aside from Somalia-are the countries directly threatened by terrorists. For example, in Kenya, the Command is assisting in establishing a Ranger Strike Force and a Special Boat Unit, which will become the country's primary CT and border security forces. SOCAFRICA completed training two companies of the Kenyan Ranger Strike Force, and our Special Operations Forces (SOF) maritime efforts have created a nascent Kenyan Special Boat Unit capability to enhance Kenyan maritime security. When completed, Kenya will have a
significantly improved capacity to counter the terrorist threat emanating from Somalia.
U.S. Army Africa (USARAF)
On 1 October 2009, the Secretary of the Army designated U.S. Army Africa as the Army Service Component Command (ASCC) to U.S. Africa Command. USARAF will be fully operational capable (FOC) as an ASCC in FY12, and has doubled in size during the last 15 months. USARAF is heavily involved in the professional development of African land forces, which remain the dominant military force in most African states. USARAF's goal is to help transform our partners' land forces into contributors to peace and stability, with the capabilities and capacities required to accomplish their missions in support of legitimate authority.
One of AFAFRICA's key programs is the Air Domain Safety and Security (ADSS) program, which is a long-term Air Force program of record with FY10 funding of $2.6 million. Funding is projected to grow to $3.1 million in Fiscal Year 2011.
AFAFRICA will expand ADSS significantly in 2010, by utilizing general purpose air forces and working together with USG departments and agencies and other partners to develop African capacity to provide regional air safety and security solutions to the civil and military air domains.
III. DESCRIPTION OF THE SEPTEMBER 11-12,2012, ATTACKS
The sequence of events in Benghazi on the night of September 11, 20 12, and the morning of September 12, 2012, have been widely described in media and other reports. There were effectively at least three different attacks against U.S. facilities in fewer than eight hours. Understanding the evolution and the sequence of attacks is important to provide the context in which Americans in Benghazi and Tripoli and U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., evaluated events as they unfolded
and fotrnulated operational and policy responses. Below are the key details about the three attacks.
1. Attack on the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility at Approximately 9:40p.m.
At approximately 9:40p.m. Benghazi time, on September 11, 2012, dozens of attackers easily gained access to the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility (hereinafter "the TMF," "the Mission facility," or "the Mission compound") by scaling and then opening the front vehicle gate.4
Over the course of the entire attack on the TMF, at least 60 different attackers entered the U.S. compound and can be seen on the surveillance video recovered from the Mission facility. 5 The
attackers moved unimpeded throughout the compound, entering and exiting
buildings at will.
After entering the Mission facility, the attackers used diesel fuel to set fire to the barracks/guard house of the Libyan 17tlt February Brigade militia, which served as a security force provided by the host nation for the Mission compound, and then proceeded towards the main buildings of the compound. 6 A Diplomatic Security (DS) agent working in the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) of the Mission.
4 SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, p. 24.
5 James R. Clapper, Director ofNational Intelligence, Joint Statement for the Record, SSCI Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15, 2012, p. 3.
facility immediately activated the Imminent Danger Notification System. 7 He also alerted the CIA personnel stationed at the nearby CIA Annex (hereinafter "the Annex"), the Libyan 17th February Brigade, the U.S. Embassy in Trifoli, and the Diplomatic Security Command Center (DSCC) in Washington, D.C.
There were five DS agents at the Mission compound that night. Two had traveled from Tripoli with U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens (who was staying at the Mission compound in Benghazi), and three others were assigned to the Mission facility. In addition to the five DS agents on duty, there were three armed members of the Libyan 17th February Brigade militia, three Libyan National Police officers, and five untrained members of a local security team contacted through a British company, Blue Mountain Group, who were guarding the Mission facility that night. In addition, six armed CIA security personnel (plus an interpreter) operating out of the nearby Annex were able to respond quickly after receiving word of the attack.
After the DS agent in the Tactical Operations Center at the Temporary Mission Facility alerted the Annex security team that TMF was under attack at 9:40 , the Chief of Base called the "who advised that he would immediately deploy a force to provide assistance," according to a September 19, 2012, cable that provided the joint CIA Station/Base report on the events surrounding the September 11-12 attacks.9
Two armored vehicles were prepared so the security team could respond from the Annex. Approximately 20-25 minutes after the first call came into the Annex that the Temporary Mission Facility was under attack, a security team left the Annex for the Mission compound. In footage taken from the Annex's security cameras, the security team can be observed departing the CIA Annex at 10:03 p.m., Benghazi time.
During the period between approximately 9:40 p.m. and 10:03 p.m. Benghazi time, the Chief of Base and security team members attempted to secure assistance and heavy weapons (such as .50 caliber truck-mounted machine guns) from the 17th February Brigade and other militias that had been assisting the United States. 10 Then, the team drove to the Mission facility and made their way
7 NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13, 2012, p. 3.
9 E-mail from "Fw: Subject: Eyes Only- Tripoli Station and Benghazi Base Report on Events of 11-12 September," containing CIA TRIPOLI 27900, September 19,2012, p. 2.
1° Classified Report of the Department of State Accountability Review Board (ARB), December 18,2012, p. 27.
onto the Mission compound in the face of enemy fire, arriving in the vicinity of the compound at approximately 10: 10 p.m. Benghazi time. 11 Meanwhile, a DS agent secured Ambassador Stevens and State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith in the "safe area" of the main
building of the Mission facility (Building C). The attackers used diesel fuel to set the main building ablaze and thick smoke rapidly filled the entire structure.
According to testimony of the Director of the NCTC, the DS agent began leading the Ambassador and Mr. Smith toward the emergency escape window to escape the smoke. 14 Nearing unconsciousness himself, the agent opened the emergency escape window and crawled out. He then realized he had become separated from the Ambassador and Sean Smith in the smoke, so he reentered and searched the building multiple times. 15
The DS agent, suffering from severe smoke inhalation, climbed a ladder to the roof where he radioed the other DS agents for assistance and attempted unsuccessfully to ventilate the building by breaking a skylight. 16 Other DS agents went to retrieve their M-4 carbine assault rifles from Building B when the attack began. When they attempted to return to the main building (Building C) to help protect the Ambassador, they encountered armed attackers and decided to return to Building B to take cover rather than open fire.
They eventually regrouped, made their way to a nearby armored vehicle, and then drove over to assist the agent on the roof of Building C searching for the 11 NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 4; E-mail from CIA Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) staff to Staff Director, House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence (HPSCI), et al., "Background Points used on 1 Nov," November 2, 2012, p. 1.
12 SSCI Memorandum for the Record, "Staff Briefing and Secure Video Teleconference (SVTC) with CIA Benghazi Survivors," June 27, 2013.
13 According to informal notes obtained from the CIA, the security team left for the Annex without the formal approval of the Chief of Base, see attachments to e-mail from CIA staff to CIA staff-
.-, September 23, 2012. However, a Memorandum for the Record prepared by the Deputy Chief of Base specifically states that the Chief" authorized the move" and the Chief told the Committee: "We launched [Quick Reaction Force] as soon as possible down to the State [Department] compound."
Memorandum for the Record, "Events of 11-12 SEP 2012 at Benghazi Base, Libya," September 19,2012, p. 1; and SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of former Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 3.
14 SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, pp. 27-29.
15 NCTC and FBI, the 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 4.
16 Unclassified Report of the ARB, December 18,2012, p. 22.
Ambassador and Mr. Smith. After numerous attempts, they found Mr. Smith, who was deceased. 17 The DS agents did not fire a single shot that night during the attack on the Temporary Mission Facility, according to testimony before the Committee. 18
Outside the compound, the security team asked 17th February Brigade members to "provide cover" for them to advance to the gate of the Temporary Mission Facility with gun trucks. The 1 th February Brigade members refused, saying they preferred to negotiate with the attackers instead. Eventually, the security team initiated their plan of assault on the Mission compound. Some members of the 17th February Brigade "jump[ed] into the vehicle" and "a few 17 Feb members follow[ed] behind on foot to support the team/' according to the informal CIA notes provided to the Cornmittee.19
When the security team from the Annex arrived on the grounds of the Mission facility, "the officers exchanged fire with the attackers."20 The CIA team carried After pushing joined in the search for the Ambassador.
At approximately 11: 10 p.m. Benghazi time, an unarmed, unmanned DoD Predator surveillance aircraft, which had been diverted approximately one hour earlier by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from another intelligence collection mission in eastern Libya, arrived over the Mission compound and soon after 17 Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, Statement for the Record, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR), Hearing on the Security Failures of Benghazi, October 10, 4012, p. 6.
18 SSCI Transcript, Hearing on Security Issues at Benghazi and Threats to U.S. Intelligence and Diplomatic Personnel and Facilities Worldwide Since the Attacks, December 4; 2012, p. 67. However, on page 47 of its classified report, the ARB concluded: "While none of the five DS agents discharged their weapons, the Board concluded that this was a sound tactical decision, given the overwhelming degree to which they were outgunned and outnumbered: A decision to discharge their weapons may well have resulted in more American deaths that night, without saving lives. The multiple trips that DS agents and Annex security team members made into a burning, smoke-filled building showed readiness to risk life and limb to save "
19 See attachments to e-mail from CIA staff to CIA staff September 23, 2012.
2° CIA TRIPOL-I 27900, September 19,2012, p. 3.
21 SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, p. 72.