There was one team that headed from Tripoli to Benghazi, arriving at around 1:15 a.m., Hicks said.
Phillips, Hicks recalled, "worked assiduously all night long to try to get the Libyan military to respond in some way." The Libyan prime minister called Hicks and told him that the U.S. ambassador had been killed, after which "the Libyan military agreed to fly their C-130 to Benghazi and carry additional personnel to Benghazi as reinforcements."
Hicks said that four U.S. Special Forces troops in Tripoli -- led by the leader of the U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, SOCAfrica -- planned to hitch a ride on the Libyan plan to travel to Benghazi to help.
"We fully intended for those guys to go, because we had already essentially stripped ourselves of our security presence, or our security capability, to the bare minimum," Hicks recalled.
But the four were informed by someone with SOCAfrica that they didn't have the authority to go, Hicks said.
"So Lt. Col. Gibson, who is the SOCAfrica commander, his team, you know, they were on their way to the vehicles to go to the airport to get on the C-130 when he got a phone call from SOCAfrica which said, 'you can't go now, you don't have authority to go now,'' Hicks said. "And so they missed the flight."
"They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it," Hicks said. "I still remember Col. Gibson, he said, 'I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.' A nice compliment."
The C-130 left between 6 and 6:30 a.m., so the four Special Forces troops would not have arrived in time to fend off the 5:15 a.m. attack on the CIA annex in Benghazi.
Hicks said he recalled asking Phillips again if any military help was coming. "The answer, again, was the same as before. It's too far away, there are no tankers. ... There is nothing that could respond. ...
"I guess they just didn't have the right authority from the right level," Hicks recalled.
Panetta, in his February testimony defending officials' actions, said, "The bottom line is this, that we were not dealing with a prolonged or continuous assault, which could have been brought to an end by a U.S. military response, very simply, although we had forces deployed to the region. Time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.
"Despite the uncertainty at the time, the Department of Defense and the rest of the United States government spared no effort to do everything we could to try to save American lives. Before, during and after the attack, every request the Department of Defense received we did, we accomplished."