Menu

Politics

Defense

What laser capability did Benghazi team have?

 

Sources who have debriefed the team that was at the CIA annex the night of the attack in Benghazi say that the CIA operators from the Global Response Staff, or GRS, were equipped with Mark 48 machine guns and had two types of laser capability. Each weapon had both a “passive” as well as a “visible” laser that could be used against the Libyan attackers.

The presence of laser capability on the roof of the CIA annex confirms what Fox News sources that night in Benghazi originally said, which is that they had laser capability and for 5 hours and 15 minutes were wondering where the usual overhead air support was, especially since, according to this source, they radioed from the annex beginning as early as midnight asking for it.

The presence of lasers raises more questions about why air support was not sent to Benghazi even protectively once it became clear that the fighting had followed the CIA rescue team back to the annex.

U.S. military officials say they "thought the fighting was over" after the team left the consulate and that there was a lull in the fighting.

Fox News has learned the guns were fitted with PEQ-15 lasers. The “passive” laser is not visible to the naked eye but can help team members identify hostile forces when the shooter is wearing NODS, or Night Observation Device attached to their helmet. The visible laser system places a red dot on the attacker and warns the attacker not to shoot, encouraging them to flee the scene. U.S. troops often use the visible laser to scare children or other civilians who find themselves in the middle of combat activity. When civilians see the laser they often back off in order not to be shot.

The GRS team that was present at the CIA annex provided security for the CIA station, as they do around the world. They are highly trained in countersurveillance, close target reconnaissance and in depth reconnaissance. Enemy fighters have learned in Afghanistan and Iraq to use their cell phones to follow or intercept these “passive” lasers without having night vision or NODS.

The Annex team also had Ground Laser Designators, or GLD. This kind of laser equipment emits code and signal when there is overhead air support, unmanned aerial surveillance, drones or Spectre gunships, for instance.

A source present the night of the attack says that the GRS team that was defending the annex asked where the air support was at midnight. Former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed 5 hours and 15 minutes later.

The military is preparing a timeline from the night of the Benghazi attack and plans to outline what assets were available to commanders in the region, including AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham, who was visiting Washington, D.C., on September 11 and was in the Pentagon overseeing the operation that night.

Pentagon spokesman George Little says, “On the night of the attack on American personnel and facilities in Benghazi, there were no armed unmanned aerial vehicles over Libya, and there were no AC-130s anywhere close.”

On Thursday, the CIA excluded Fox News from a briefing for a small group of reporters in which they provided a timeline from the night of the attack in which they explain that at 5:15 a.m. (7 hrs and 28 minutes after the attack on the consulate began) five mortars are fired at the annex, three of them striking the roof and killing Woods and Doherty.

The CIA told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius that “the rooftop defenders never ‘laser the mortars’ as has been reported,” a reference to an earlier Fox News report. The CIA added the “defenders have focused their laser sights earlier on several Libyan attackers, as warnings not to fire.”

The U.S. military says that two unarmed Predators were overhead Benghazi that night and providing one stream of video back to Washington beginning at 11:11 p.m. (1 hr and 24 minutes) after the attack began. 

U.S. military sources say that the second Predator was not armed even though it took off from Sigonella Air Base in Sicily after the attack began to provide back up to the first Predator which was at the end of its orbit and running low on fuel. US commanders say that in reference to the drones positioned at Sigonella: “Not all aircraft are armed. Ours are not.”

According to military sources, Libyan authorities have not given the U.S. military permission to fly armed drones over populated areas like Benghazi. However, for some time the unmanned aerial drones that have been watching Libya’s chemical weapons sites did have permission to be armed.

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent.