With Tripoli's major airport coming under fire and a civil war raging in the streets, it's been clear for a while that the fighting in Libya was getting out of control and the evacuation of U.S. staff and troops would be necessary. How'd they do it? With a sneaky early morning convoy.
We've outlined how and why the Marines would help get Americans out of Tripoli if the State Department found it too dangerous to operate there, and that time has come and passed according to numerous reports, including this one from CNN.
About 150 personnel, including 80 U.S. Marines were evacuated from the embassy in the early hours of Saturday morning and were driven across the border into Tunisia, U.S. officials confirm to CNN.
CNN has learned the plan to evacuate the Americans was in the works for several days, but the decision to carry out the plan was made just in the last few days as the security situation around the embassy deteriorated.
Rather than bluster in with a huge force of Marines — as many expected — the U.S. decided to quietly drive out of the country in a convoy rather than risk drawing attention to their movements.
But just because they drove out of the country to Tunisia doesn't mean there wasn't a large force with them just in case:
. @PentagonPresSec : During movement, F-16′s, ISR assets and an Airborne Response Force with MV-22 Ospreys provided security.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 26, 2014
As we predicted, there was an Osprey (or multiple Ospreys) full of Marines ready to jump in if it appeared the convoy was about to come under attack, as well as two F-16s providing combat air patrol. The ISR mentioned was apparently a drone that followed them across the border.
Sometimes the best escapes are the quiet ones and it sounds like this one happened without a shot being fired.