By Jon Harper
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee singled out Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of exhibiting poor leadership and insufficient planning in their report on the Sept. 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
The committee on Wednesday released a declassified report on the attacks by al-Qaida linked militants that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
“The tenure of … General Martin Dempsey, has been marked by what we view as significant deficiencies in command,” the report states. “From Syria to Benghazi, there has been either a profound inability or clear unwillingness to identify and prevent problems before they arise. Given the known operating environment in Benghazi, much less North Africa, a strong military leader would have ensured there was a viable plan in place to rescue Americans should the need arise.”
In Congressional hearings held in the wake of the Benghazi incident, Dempsey and other senior defense officials argued that a rescue operation was not feasible after the attacks began due to poor intelligence about the situation on the ground and a lack of sufficient quick-reaction military assets in the region that could have gotten to Benghazi in time to save those who died.
“General Dempsey’s attempts to excuse inaction by claiming that forces were not deployed because they would not have gotten there in time does not pass the common sense test. No one knew when the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi would end, or how aggressive the attacks would be. That is the whole point of a pre-established emergency rescue plan — so that the length of the attack alone does not dictate the rescue or survival of Americans,” the committee said. “General Dempsey should have ensured that plan was in place, but he failed to do so … The fate of United States personnel serving in dangerous areas of the world should not rest on ad hoc rescue operations, no matter how heroic, simply because the United States Government and its civilian and military leaders have failed in their collective responsibilities to provide security and potentially life-saving assistance.”