By Denise Simon
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
For decades, studies have been performed on what led up to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Beirut, all covering issues from forecasting the attack, to the motivations of the attack, to protecting further attacks to what went wrong. Thirty-two years later we are still in much the same feeble security condition as well as naming those behind attacks and what stimulated the attacks yesterday, today and tomorrow.
While the U.S. military is chartered with security of U.S. interests globally, the Rules of Engagement as susceptible to robust scrutiny by agencies outside the Pentagon, namely the State Department and the National Security Council. Winning the “hearts and minds” ethos did not work 32 years ago, it did not work with al Qaeda, the Taliban or even North Korea much less Iran. The sensitivity doctrine as practiced today by the White House and the State Department with regard to the wide talks with Iran have proven to be not only misguided but dangerous.
Knowing history is key so as not to repeat mistakes. After Action Reports are investigated and published to ensure more effective pro-active measures against all enemies. The Long Commission report on the attacks in Beirut was crafted such that Benghazi never should have happened and frankly neither should have the event in Garland, Texas. We repeat and repeat the stupidity and it stays bloody. There are National Security threats to America and those threats to do include Climate Change or federalizing law enforcement.
Summary of General Observations.
The Commission believes that the most important message it can bring to the Secretary of Defense is that the 23 October 1983 attack on the Marine Battalion Landing Team Headquarters in Beirut was tantamount to an act of war using the medium of terrorism. Terrorist warfare, sponsored by sovereign states or organized political entities to achieve political objectives, is a threat to the United States that is increasing at an alarming rate. The 23 October catastrophe underscores the fact that terrorist warfare can have significant political impact and demonstrates that the United States, and specifically the Department of Defense, is inadequately prepared to deal with this threat. much needs to be done, on an urgent basis, to prepare U.S. military forces to defend against and counter terrorist warfare.
2. Performance of the USMNF.
The USMNF was assigned the unique and difficult task of maintaining a peaceful presence in an increasingly hostile environment. United States military personnel assigned or attached to the USMNF performed superbly, incurring great personal risk to accomplish their assigned tasks. In the aftermath of the attack of 23 October 1983, U.S. military personnel performed selfless and often heroic acts to assist in the extraction of their wounded and dead comrades from the rubble and to evacuate the injured. The Commission has the highest admiration for the manner in which U.S. military personnel responded to this catastrophe.
3. Security following the 23 October 1983 Attack.
The security posture of the USMNF subsequent to the 23 October 1983 attack was examined closely by the Commission. A series of actions was initiated by the chain of command to enhance the security of the USMNF, and reduce the vulnerability of the USMNF to further catastrophic losses. However, the security measures implemented or planned for implementation as of 30 November 1983 were not adequate to prevent continuing significant attrition of USMNF personnel.
4. Intelligence Support.
Even the best of intelligence will not guarantee the security of any military position. However, specific data on the terrorist threats to the USMNF, data which could best be provided by carefully trained intelligence agents, could have enabled the USMNF Commander to better prepare his force and facilities to blunt the effectiveness of a suicidal vehicle attack of great explosive force.
The USMNF commander did not have effective U.S. Human Intelligence (HUMINT) support. The paucity of U.S. controlled HUMINT is partly due to U.S. policy decisions to reduce HUMINT collection worldwide. The U.S. has a HUMINT capability commensurate with the resources ad time that has been spent to acquire it. The lesson of Beirut is that we must have better HUMINT to support military planning and operations. We see here a critical repetition of a long line of similar lessons learned during crisis situations in many other parts of the world.
What we are facing today on our own soil is bubbling to the surface as noted by recent arrests leading up to the shooting in Garland, Texas.