Pentagon on Libya: First Provide Security, then ‘Deliver Justice’ (Update)
Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little briefs reporters at the Pentagon, Sept. 13, 2012. Little responded to questions about protests in Egypt and the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
UPDATE from the American Forces Press Service:
A Marine Corps fleet anti-terrorism security team, called a “FAST team” is now on the ground in Yemen to help with security at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
This is the second FAST team, consisting of about 50 Marines, authorized by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to bolster security at U.S. diplomatic installations in the past two days.
The first team was sent to Libya after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed four State Department employees, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.
The FAST platoon was dispatched, Little told reporters here, “partly in response to events over the past two days at our embassy in Yemen, but it’s also in part a precautionary measure.”
The American Forces Press Service reports that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has authorized deployment of a Marine Corps fleet anti-terrorism security team to Libya to protect U.S. citizens there and to secure the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
During a Pentagon news conference today, Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little said Panetta strongly condemns the recent attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East.
From the news article:
“The secretary extends his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and to the entire State Department family,” Little said. “The department has been working with the White House and State Department to provide resources to support the security of U.S. personnel and facilities in Libya.”
Additionally, Little said the Defense Department supported the evacuation of American personnel and casualties out of Libya and is supporting the repatriation of the remains of the four State Department personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who were killed in the attack late Tuesday on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also have worked over the past 48 hours with combatant commanders throughout the region to conduct reviews of their force postures, he said. They also are working “to ensure that we have the flexibility to respond to requests for assistance or orders as directed by the president of the United States,” he added.
Little said the focus of the Defense Department is now on supporting whole-of-government efforts to provide security to American personnel in Libya and elsewhere, working closely with the State Department, “and then supporting any efforts that we may be called upon to assist in the effort to, as the president said, ‘deliver justice.’”
“The FBI and Department of Justice have opened an investigation into this tragic event,” Little said. “Obviously, we will cooperate fully if called upon to support their investigation.
“Rest assured that this department is going to work very closely with our interagency partners to help investigate [and], if we’re called upon, to assist,” he continued. “And we will play our part in getting to the root of what happened.”
From a news article by Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service