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Gen. Ham's "retirement"

November 03, 2012
TRR: Is a General losing his job over Benghazi?

By James S. Robbins - The Washington Times

October 28, 2012, 12:32AM

(Updated 10/29) Is an American General losing his job for trying to save the Americans besieged in Benghazi? This is the latest potential wrinkle in the growing scandal surrounding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that left four men dead and President Obama scrambling for a coherent explanation.

On October 18, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared unexpectedly at an otherwise unrelated briefing on "Efforts to Enhance the Financial Health of the Force." News organizations and CSPAN were told beforehand there was no news value to the event and gave it scant coverage. In his brief remarks Mr. Panetta said, "Today I am very pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command." This came as a surprise to many, since General Ham had only been in the position for a year and a half. The General is a very well regarded officer who made AFRICOM into a true Combatant Command after the ineffective leadership of his predecessor, General William E. "Kip" Ward. Later, word circulated informally that General Ham was scheduled to rotate out in March 2013 anyway, but according to Joint doctrine, "the tour length for combatant commanders and Defense agency directors is three years." Some assumed that he was leaving for unspecified personal reasons.

However on October 26, "Ambassador" posted the following RUMINT on TigerDroppings (h/t Jim Hoft):

I heard a story today from someone inside the military that I trust entirely. The story was in reference to General Ham that Panetta referenced in the quote below.

"(The) basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place," Panetta told Pentagon reporters. "And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation."
The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.

General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.

The story continues that now General Rodiguez would take General Ham's place as the head of Africom.

This version of events contradicts Mr. Panetta's October 25 statement that General Ham advised against intervention. But so far there is nothing solid to back it up. Maybe Ham attempted to send a reaction force against orders, or maybe he simply said the wrong thing to the wrong people. Perhaps he gave whomever he was talking to up the chain a piece of his mind about leaving Americans to die when there was a chance of saving them. At the very least U.S. forces might have made those who killed our people pay while they were still on the scene. The Obama White House is famously vindictive against perceived disloyalty – the administration would not let Ham get away with scolding them for failing to show the leadership necessary to save American lives. The Army's ethos is to leave no man behind, but that is not shared by a president accustomed to leading from that location.

The question remains why the repeated requests – which is to say desperate pleas – to send a relief force were refused. Perhaps Mr. Obama and his national security brain trust thought the terrorist assault would be a minor skirmish and quickly blow over. When it became clear that the attack was something more serious, they may have had visions of the rescue team getting involved in a Mogadishu-like firefight, a "Blackhawk Down 2." This would have been too much for the risk-averse Mr. Obama, particularly in a Muslim country, and less than two months before the election. Instead they simply watched the live video hoped for the best. If there were American fatalities, they felt they could shift blame for the circumstance to the supposed Youtube video which they had already blamed for the riot at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo hours earlier. In fact the Embassy had sent out its "apology" tweets even before the Cairo riot commenced.

Hillary Clinton's freakishly bizarre statement on September 14 is also worth noting. At a memorial service to the fallen she told Charles Woods, father of slain former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, that "we will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted." In that situation one would expect her to vow to take down the terrorists who killed Tyrone, not the supposed instigator of the spontaneous mob action that never happened.

But since when does the Secretary of State feel it is her duty to promise to have an American filmmaker who has committed no crime arrested? For all the bowing and scraping to Islam that has gone on in the last four years, blasphemy against that or any other faith is still not illegal in this country. The First Amendment still exists. It is strange that Mrs. Clinton believed that the parents of the slain Americans would empathize with her outrage at the filmmaker, rather than reserve their anger for the extremists who actually did the killing. But as Mr. Woods said, he "could tell that she was not telling me the truth." Indeed the truth has been the fifth casualty in this entire tragic affair.

UPDATE: On Sunday October 28 I received the following communique from Pentagon Press Secretary George Little:
"The insinuations in your story are flat wrong. General Ham is an outstanding leader of AFRICOM. Future leadership changes at this important command have absolutely nothing to do with the attack on American personnel in Benghazi. The leadership changes have been long planned."
Of course I never suggested that General Ham was anything other than an outstanding leader of AFRICOM and in fact said as much. But why is an outstanding leader of this important command leaving after less than two years when all other combatant commanders have longer tenures? General Ham's predecessor stayed in the job much longer and was generally less well regarded. Further discussion of these issues may help begin to restore the administration's credibility on the Benghazi issue.

UPDATE 2: On Monday October 29 General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, released the following statement:

"The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been on going since July. He continues to serve in AFRICOM with my complete confidence."
Regarding the timing, a Defense official told The Washington Times, "The decision was made by General Ham. He ably served the nation for nearly forty years and retires after a distinguished career."

UPDATE 3: To put another perspective on the story, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said that General Ham told him during a visit to Libya that he had never been asked to provide military support for the Americans under attack in Benghazi. Former United States Ambassador to the U.N. John R, Bolton also mentioned Mr. Chaffetz's account, and contrasted it with Mr. Panetta's statement that General Ham had been part of the team that made the decision not to send in forces. "General Ham has now been characterized in two obviously conflicting ways," Mr. Bolton concluded. "Somebody ought to find out what he actually was saying on September the eleventh."

COMMENT: I and others who have served have asked the question since day 1 "Where are our military leaders?" All of the good ones, those you would have followed gladly into hell, like Washington, Lee, Grant, Stillwell, McArthur, Patton, etc. Most of our high ranking officers have become corporate desk jockeys and not military leaders. It is refreshing and educational that at least one General tried to do his duty without considering how it would affect his job or his future with some big lobbying firm.

This type of treatment of our leading military commanders, remember the General who was relieved because he disagreed with how the war was being conducted, is reminiscent of the Soviet Union or Hitler's Nazi Germany. Eventually the officer corps, in both governments, became puppets of the regime and only made decisions that they knew would be favorable. When this happens we have that wonderful situation where the blame for any transgression begins to roll downhill until it comes to rest at the feet of the first one it can be pinned on. When that happens the military no longer honors its oath to support and defend the Constitution. Four more years of this administration and our military will become just another arm to control the population. I used to wonder why some soldiers threw their medals away….. now I'm beginning to understand.

SMSgt George Schryer (ret.) is a 24-year Air Force veteran. He served as a B-52 tailgunner (see insert on the masthead) in Vietnam. Tailgunners were trained to not only protect the plane from the rear from enemy fighters but to also assist other B-52's following in a formation that might have experienced difficulty with their radar in locating the target. The tailgunner in the forward plane would use his radar to locate the target and then signal to the following plane where to drop its bomb load. The technique was called "The Bonus Deal." George and his wife Gail have lived in Beaufort County for the last 17 years and since his 'second' retirement from Grady White Boats in 2006 after 12 years there. He is a life-member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, currently serving as the Chief of Staff for the Commander of VFW District 2. George will be offering information for veterans and their families and commenting on issues he believes are important to all of us. He speaks for himself and not the Air Force, VFW or anyone other than himself. We thank George for providing this "Bonus Deal" to the veterans and their families in our readership. You can contact George at:
  1. reply print email
    November 04, 2012 | 09:53 AM

    I am a former Naval Aviator and am amazed and disgusted with our Commander in Chief who spent more time and attention on the Pizza Man who gave him the hug in Ft. Pierce, FL than he did the four dead Americans in Libya. I along with other vets have been picketing in front of the Pizza Parlor asking the owner to ask his friend that vets want the truth. This new policy of leaving Americans is a significant departure from our military history.

    George Sigler
  2. reply print email
    Benghazi Debacle
    November 04, 2012 | 04:44 PM

    I cannot get the nightmarish vision of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty fighting for their lives, doing everything in their limited power to try to save lives, all the while pleading for help that never came. How can any red-blooded America NOT feel outrage that they were left behind, that four Americans courageously lost their lives while those who held the power to send SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to aide them, lacked the courage to do so. How is that this horrible lack of leadership, whereever the core lies, is brushed over and ignored? Those were OUR sons America; four of our very best sons. They deserve to have the true story told.

    Mary E.
  3. reply print email
    Libya and the US Navy
    November 04, 2012 | 06:24 PM

    How about investigating why the Navy Admiral from Bremerton, Washington, was also relieved right after 9/11/12? Maybe these two are the scapegoats for Nobummer lying to the American people.


    Editor's note: Investigating will not produce anything. Former officers are prohibited from disclosing any classified information and in most cases even discussing it. That is why Obama classified nearly everything related to Benghazi. It effectively gag those who know the truth. Our best chance of learning the truth comes from the Mossad and Netanyahu. Keep an eye on him. The truth will not come from our retired officers for years to come but it will eventually come out.

  4. reply print email
    Retirement Orders
    November 05, 2012 | 01:22 AM

    If Gen Ham's retirement was planned then the Pentagon would have written retirement orders weeks or months ago. Ask them to provide those orders and look at the date they were written.

    The Administration blamed this incident on a video. If they are so overly sensitive to Muslims, then why did they give Hollywood unprecedented access to the Pentagon and the CIA to make a movie about killing Bin Laden?

  5. reply print email
    What Really Went Down
    November 07, 2012 | 04:20 PM

    And now for the r-e-e-est of the story. You'll get to Ham about half way through. Click on related articles for more details.

    Eric Reinhardt
  6. reply print email
    Solution to Benghazi
    May 10, 2013 | 05:44 AM

    As a retired military man I never thought I would see the day in this country when I would welcome a military coup to take over this complete mess we have running our country now. I would welcome it now.

    Robert Faunce
  7. reply print email
    July 21, 2014 | 05:10 AM

    how does general ham still be on duty if he is pushing some of the men to retrieve money from home family to come home? sgt Smith Luis is also in on invading some women's heart. Why does the usmc allow this to happen?

    Connie M Monsour
  8. reply print email
    unanswered questions ?
    January 15, 2015 | 01:21 AM

    Why can't we just get Congress to ask Ret. General Carter Ham directly? Is it FEAR? If reporters can take the risk and be sentenced to jail time, Maybe a Four Star General can gather up the strength to come forward and take the Risk, Freedom is worth stepping forward for..

    Ken Oldwin
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