Marines responding to Benghazi were held up by debate on weapons and uniforms, commander says
Spain-based Marines trying to respond to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, were delayed for three hours as U.S. government officials debated whether they should wear their uniforms and carry weapons, according to Tuesday's report from the House Benghazi Committee.
The platoon commander of a fleet anti-terrorism security team, which can be dispatched to embassies and consulates in times of crises, told the committee that his Marines changed into and out of their uniforms four times on the plane before taking off for Libya, the report states.
The team did not arrive there until 23 hours after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
"We were told multiple times to change what we were wearing, to change from cammies into civilian attire, civilian attire into cammies, cammies into civilian attire," the platoon commander, who was not identified, told the committee. "There was also some talk of whether or not we could carry our personal weapons.
"I was basically holding hard and fast to the point where we were carrying our personal weapons. Like, we’ve got a very violent thing going on the ground where we’re going, so we’re going to be carrying something that can protect ourselves. But as far as what the Marines were wearing, that continually changed, and we had to make those changes inside of the aircraft."