Preparing Global Strike Insertion Packages: Missing In Benghazi

By Robbin Laird

The failure to come to the aide of an Ambassador under fire in Libya is a significant one.

The American election has moved on, but not the problem.

As I argued earlier:

And now we have the Benghazi incident, discussed and debated in the United States but in ways not congruent with how players in the region are looking at it.  It is not simply a prelude to the next movie about US actions in the region, it is a real world event with real world consequences.

For an Al Qaeda perspective on this event we have some recent statements provided by the Western media.

Deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, suggest American “awe is lost” in the region, a message from al-Qaida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said.

Zawahiri, in an audio message addressed to Somali militant group al-Shabaab, said U.S. influence in the Middle East was waning now that it’s military engagements there have ended.

“They were defeated in Iraq and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sanaa (Yemen),” a translation of the message published by the online Long War Journal read.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the FBI to investigate the Sept. 11 attack in Libya. Shortly afterward, she suggested al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb was likely behind the raid. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said it was “pretty clear” that the attack in Benghazi was an act of terrorism.

“Their awe is lost and their might is gone and they don’t dare to carry out a new campaign like their past ones in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Zawahiri.

What Benghazi may show is the strategic need for a global strike insertion force.

The Contingency Response Wing or CRW has two units ready to deploy worldwide when a runway needs to be repaired.

We may need a ready “global strike force” able to insert within a very short period of time to go up against the kind of enemy which the West faces on a very regular basis.

The focus on global strike has largely focused on a peer competitor; but the lessons of the last decade highlight the need for insertion forces which can do some of what was done in Iraq and Afghanistan without rolling out half of the deployable US military.

The recent Israel test of an offense defense enterprise against the Hamas and Iranian power projection included several elements: defensive anti-missile systems, strike systems against missiles and tunnels, and targeting of Hamas leadership.

The Israel version of insertable strike was demonstrated in Gaza as a key element of the package.

Perhaps the USAF and related elements can craft such a relevant capability organizationally.

The Ospreys and fighters bundled into an insertable strike package could prove a useful asset, but only if it is organized for and used.   UAVs rest on long periods of preparation for target determination.  Rapid reaction is just that and needs appropriate tools with man in the cockpit.

This is more Special Forces or USMC like, but the recrafting of USAF air capabilities into small tailored strike packages able to strike from anywhere in the world on short notice might well be a core capability to deal with a range of threats to be met in the period ahead.

Rather than baptizing the term “global strike” with ICBMs, why not focus on tailorable Osprey/fighter/tanker packages?

It might give the terrorists who plan a nasty future for us something to think about.


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