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Minutes after Tate Jolly arrived at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a mortar hit the compound where an ambassador and another American had been killed and dozens more were trapped.
The Marine gunnery sergeant was one of only two U.S. troops with a small task force that rushed to respond to what quickly became clear was a coordinated attack on the U.S. State Department facility.
It was a remarkable mission. The closest military backup was hours away, which later led to fierce debate about how U.S. troops should be postured to protect Americans and diplomatic posts overseas.
"There was no one even remotely close to being able to go and get them in North Africa," a source familiar with the operation planning said. "The nearest airplanes were hours away and the nearest ground troops a day away or further."
The source spoke under the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the Sept. 11, 2012, incident, which remains a topic of controversy in Washington seven years later.
The scene was chaotic when the team arrived, and they quickly tried to restore order. There were nearly 30 panicked people who needed to be evacuated quickly, but the compound was under fire from multiple sides.
"Unfortunately, it was not a whole lot of offense; it was a whole lot of just holding guys off as long as they could to try and get out," the person familiar with the mission said.
Jolly, who declined a request for an interview, would ultimately be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism there. The soldier with him, Master Sgt. David Halbruner, received the Army's Distinguished Service Cross. The valor awards are exceeded only by the Medal of Honor.
One year into the Trump administration, what are the most complex challenges facing the U.S. military? This is the second installment of THREAT WEEK, our brief series spotlighting some of the Pentagon’s biggest obstacles ahead of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.
U.S. special operations forces have captured a “key” militant involved in the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic facility in the Libyan city of Benghazi that left four dead and sparked an ongoing political firestorm, unnamed U.S. government officials told the Associated Press.
The parents of two men killed in Benghazi, Libya nearly four years ago are suing former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, saying the attack resulted from her “reckless” handling of classified information.
Nowhere is the ugliness of politics on better display during election season than in our Facebook newsfeeds, that virtual arena where once every four years keyboard warriors duke it out with insults, accusations, hashtags, and empty promises of moving to Canada if their candidate doesn’t get elected. If you’re a veteran, your newsfeed is that multiplied by a thousand. Vets love arguing politics and hate pulling punches, and the result is total warfare. Thus, in the spirit of American democracy, Task & Purpose has produced this totally offensive guide to the different types of veterans who’ve traded in their M4s for keyboards to clog up your feed with really strong opinions on how our country should be run. Enjoy.