Skip to comments.Two Of Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers Speak
Posted on 09/28/2020 7:29:58 AM PDT by w1n1
Theres good reason to see the Paramount blockbuster film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Its the true story of a group of six former US military private security contractors who fight with awe inspiring bravery and professionalism to save the lives of their fellow Americans during the September 11-12, 2012 terrorist attacks on the American diplomatic compound and a CIA base (known as the Annex) in Benghazi, Libya.
In a battle that eventually took on the feel of a small scale Alamo odds against them may have been higher than 10 to 1 they steadfastly stuck to their guns, their duty as they saw it, and most importantly, they stuck together as team. They opened a can of all-American whoop-ass on the terrorists, won the firefights and made it possible to evacuate everyone to safety the next morning. A well trained, highly disciplined and motivated American warrior is a force to be reckoned with, and this comes out in the films heart pumping battle sequences.
Another good reason to see 13 Hours is that you probably dont know what you think you know about how America really protects her interests abroad. The State Department and CIA have their own private security organizations to identify, hire and manage security contractors. Tens of thousands of former American military and law-enforcement personnel work for them in some very dangerous places, even our own former American Shooting Journal executive editor and the web guy was one of them. You hear very little about these contractors because their work in the diplomatic and intelligence communities requires them to keep their mouths shut. That's how you keep a secret after all.
It might come as a surprise, but the typical CIA agent isn't very much like James Bond at all. The guys the CIA hires to protect their agents and staff abroad are the heroes of this story. Those private security contractors are called Global Response Staff (GRS) and they make around $150,000 a year. That may, or may not, be good money depending on your feelings about being killed on the job. Dying is a very real possibility in this line of work. During the battle 13 Hours depicts, two GRS men were killed and another gravely wounded along with a State Department private security contractor (DS).
One thought provoking and disturbing aspect of the story is that the Benghazi attacks could likely have been prevented if the State Department had heeded warnings and beefed up security at the diplomatic compound. It was amazing to me to learn that the security at the front gate and emergency alert responsibility was left in the hands of a few disgruntled Libyan militiamen and three unarmed locally hired Libyan guards.
It's more amazing that nobody there thought that was a problem. The attacking terrorists ran into the compound through the unlocked front gate, and caught the relaxing DS operators completely by surprise. Bear in mind, the attack happened on the anniversary of the most successful terrorist attack on US soil, and nobody bothered to check the gate before turning in for the evening. As a whole, the US State Department comes away from this affair looking complacent and negligently indifferent at its higher levels.
Here's the interview a while back with two of the five surviving Benghazi GRS operatives about the film and the battle. Mark "Oz" Geist organized the Annex for defense while his teammate Kris "Tanto" Paronto was part of the five-man group that retook the diplomatic compound. Both men fought off the attacks on the Annex that followed, and Oz was gravely wounded in the final mortar attack.
AmericanSJ Was there anything that the film 13 Hours left out that you think should have been included in the story?
Mark "Oz" Geist We sat down and discussed what should have been in and what shouldn't, as a group and individuals. I've thought about it a lot and there's not a lot that they could have put in that would make it any better. I really can't put my finger on any one thing. Of course it would have been great to see more of Max Martini in some of the set up scenes, but thats more of just a personal thing. He's playing me, and getting him more screen time would tell more of the lead up to the story. For example, what I was doing out that night [that kept me from participating in the rescue mission to the ambassador's compound], but that would have slowed down the movie, and I don't think it would work from a theatrical standpoint. As it is, I don't think you could have gotten better than what it was.
AmSJ Do you think the film captured the feel of that night?
Kris "Tanto" Paronto Wow. As far as getting emotions down, to me, it did get the emotional effect that we were looking for. Speaking for myself, I was re-living a lot of those emotions that I had that night and in other crisis situations or operations Ive conducted throughout the years. So that was important. It was basically a 13-hour event that the movie condenses into two. There is some melding of characters, and they had to skip some things, but the important [thing] that I was worried about was that it captured the feelings we had that night. The humor that goes into it you see a bit of that, and when you read the book. Its fun. Theres a lot of humor that comes into combat situations.
AmSJ At the start of the attack on the compound, five of you were waiting in the car at the Annex for the CIA base chief to give the order to go. When you finally just left without orders, I thought to myself, these guys are fired, they'll never work again. When you made the decision to go, did you realize it would end your careers as GRS contractors?
Tanto We really didnt worry. Put it this way, its on your mind a little bit, but saving other people, saving human life, is way too important. Just doing the right thing and that was the right thing is more important than a paycheck. When you see the movie, John Krasinski [portraying the GRS operative pseudonymously named Jack Silva] says, You cant put a price on human life, you cant put a price on how youre gonna live the rest of your life when you could have had the chance to save somebody, and you didnt because you were worried about your job. There wasnt anything that could have kept us from going.
AmSJ You've been pretty critical of your CIA team leader and Annex chief for lack of leadership. What was the crux of the problem?
Oz Our [CIA] team leader didn't have a military background. He was a full time employee. He was not a contractor. Thats why he didn't have the same military background that we do. He was the buffer between the knuckle-draggers and the intellects. Read the rest of Hell of Benghazi.
Bravery at the tactical level.
Cowardice and criminality at the operational and strategic levels.
Great article, with great men.
Now, to be a pissant. It’s LOSE not LOOSE your job. ( journalism/editing is a lost art _
In other words, about average for 'Am Shooting Journal'.
Par for the course, indeed.
I mean true.
at this point, what difference does it make.
series? i will watch.
obama and clinton and the rest of the democrats supported the terrorists. No on in the corrupt media will ask obama where he was and why the military was told to stand down when they already had assets going towards the battle.
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