Military Wire: Benghazi – the rest of the story

Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler

As America gears up for another election in 2016, both locally and nationally, issues once thought to be yesterday’s headlines will resurface — and the truth will be dressed in perspective and spin.

On a national level, Benghazi will be a point of debate and one that all should research and come to their own conclusion. Leadership matters. There will be the differing political spins and then there is the emerging story of the inside account of what happened in Benghazi according to The Annex Security Team — CIA contract operators who responded to the September 11, 2012 attack.

“13 HOURS: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” by Mitchell Zuckoff, author of New York Times bestsellers “Lost in Shangri-La” and “Frozen in Time,” presents for the first time ever, the true account of the events of Sept. 11, 2012 when terrorists attacked the U.S. State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya.

As many Americans will recall, the attack in Benghazi was reported as being indirectly, or according to some “directly,” linked to a low budget movie that didn’t show Mohammad in the best light. However, to those who responded to the attack, the motives for the attack were unimportant — what was clear was that the attack was not totally unexpected, the security was lacking, and leadership had failed to act on requests. The result was four American deaths, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The book, “13 HOURS,” is very compelling. As the author mentions, the book “documents the last hours of an American diplomatic outpost in one of the most dangerous corners of the globe.” It is “not about what officials in the United States government knew, said, or did after the attack, or about the ongoing controversy over talking points, electoral politics, and alleged conspiracies and cover-ups.”

What I found so compelling was that this book, in addition to being written as a narrative and staying true to the accounts as reported by the main sources of the book (those being the five surviving American security force contractors), not only exposed me to what “happened on the ground, in the streets, and on the rooftops of Benghazi” but also to those who responded to the attack.

The Annex Security Team was more than just highly trained “operators” who served on the frontlines for six figure paychecks. They are husbands, dads and sons who struggled with being away from loved ones. They are the unsung heroes for helping extract and save lives not because they were paid but because they had purpose. They ran into battle, not from it. They didn’t hide behind rhetoric or indecision — they stepped up even when they were told to step down — not because of pay but because of duty and honor.

Bottom Line: “13 HOURS,” while tragic because from my perspective it could have been avoided or at least better equipped, is more than a true retelling of an event that has been shrouded in mystery and controversy; it is a reminder of two important points: why leadership matters in politics and why those who choose to serve must do so with honor.

– By Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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