Testifying in front of a House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell said the military should have and could have done more to help Americans who were killed in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Lovell is the former deputy director for intelligence at Africa Command. His testimony today is the first testimony from a member of the military who was at Africa Command during the time of the Benghazi attack on the U.S consulate. [Bolding is mine]
"Many with firsthand knowledge have recounted the heroism displayed by the brave Americans in Benghazi that night. They fought the way they trained. That is in the record. Outside of Libya there were discussions that churned on about what we should do. These elements also fought the way they were trained. Specifically, the predisposition to interagency influence had the military structure—in the spirit of expeditionary government support—waiting for a request for assistance from the State Department. There are accounts of time, space and capability discussions of the question, could we have gotten there in time to make a difference. Well, the discussion is not in the “could or could not” in relation to time, space and capability—the point is we should have tried. As another saying goes: “Always move to the sound of the guns,” Lovell said. "It is with a sense of duty as a retired General officer that I respectfully submit these thoughts and perspectives."
Lovell also confirmed again that the 9/11 Benghazi attack was not a result of a demonstration but instead was a well planned out assault and said the situation of holding back help made the military feel "desperate."
"The military should have made a response of some sort," he said.
Further, Lovell said people on the ground that night knew it was an attack from al Qaeda almost immediately.
"We didn’t know how long this would last when we became aware of the distress nor did we completely understand what we had in front of us, be it a kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above," Lovell said. "But what we did know quite early on was that this was a hostile action. This was no demonstration gone terribly awry. To the point of what happened, the facts led to the conclusion of a terrorist attack. The AFRICOM J-2 was focused on attribution. That attacks became attributable very soon after the event."
When asked by Congressman Jason Chaffetz if the attack was related to the video as the White House has repeatedly argued, Lovell said, "No sir."
"The facts do not point to a video, that is only coming from the White House," Chaffetz said.
"Did they ever tell you to go save the people in Benghazi?" Chaffetz asked Lovell.
"Not to my knowledge sir," he answered.
You can watch the hearing live here.
This post has been updated.