Tactical Lessons from Benghazi’s Heroes

In July, Americans celebrate the birth of our great nation, the greatest nation in the world. We as Americans are both privileged and blessed to live here. Our national anthem proudly depicts the fight men and women have endured, as well as the sacrifices made with a nation in the making.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key has powerful verses of what he was witnessing as the British attacked Fort McHenry so many years ago.

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“O say can you see, by the dawn’s
early light,
What so proudly we hailed as the
twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright
stars through the perilous fight
O’er the rampart we watched
were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the
bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that
our flag was still there
O say does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the
home of the brave?”

Sadly, many Americans do not know there are many more verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I wish to share the last stanza with you, my fellow Americans:

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“O thus be it ever when freemen
shall stand
Between their loved home and the
war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace may
the heaven rescued land
Praise the power that hath made
and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our
cause it is just,
And this be our motto: In God is
our trust,
And the star-spangled banner in
triumph shall wave,
O’er the land of the free and the
home of the brave.”

Americans have had a long history of standing their ground in the firm belief in righteous causes for the love of God, country, family, and for the freedoms of their fellow man.
So strong in all of the above attributes, noble Americans pushed to violence become the fiercest warriors on God’s planet in internecine conflicts.

ONE SUCH STORY of magnificent bravery and absolute heroism was conducted on the night of September 11, 2012. On this day, a group of terrorists attacked the U.S. State Department Special Mission compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya.
Unless one has lived in a cave for the past couple of years, the majority of Americans are fully aware of this story, as depicted in the best-selling book and popular movie by the same name, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
From the book: “Against overwhelming odds, Mark ‘Oz’ Geist, Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto, John ‘Tig’ Tiegen, Jack Silva, Dave ‘Boon’ Benton, and Tyrone ‘Rone’ Wood went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale.”
I have personally had the honor of meeting with Oz, Tig, Tanto and Boon at several different functions. And when I was given the personal opportunity to train with both Tanto and Boon through their newly formed training company, Battleline Tactical, well, that was a no-brainer.
Some may ask, other than the fame and notoriety of the Benghazi heroes, what reason would the average American citizen pay hard-earned money to learn from these experienced gun fighters?

My answer to that is plenty! These men were and still are highly trained personal protection specialists, aka bodyguards, who protect high valued government diplomats.
Bodyguarding means protecting.
Protecting means defending.
Defending means it could lead to fighting. Fighting is a prime requisite for toughness.
Fighting is a sanguinary affair of the highest order; naturally this proclivity will be associated with a lifelong understudy of the most advanced weaponry on the market, and in the business of self-preservation, adds to aid in the longevity of protection and survival.

So, my question to the average American citizen is, do you not have the same duties and responsibilities protecting your own loved ones? Of course, the answer is a resounding yes. So wouldn’t any training session from some of the best and most elite bodyguards in the world and the lessons they learned in their hardfought
exploits be of value to your family?
Can you even put a price tag on such good training? And aren’t you and your family worth every penny? Of course, the answer is damn right!

WITH AN INVITATION from Bill Orndorf, Bruce Corey and Israel Matos of Defense Marketing Instructors, LLC (more on them later, as these men deserve their own article), I along with around 23 other seasoned responsible gun owners received some very intense handgun and rifle training from Battleline Tactical at the Nail Ranch in Palm Bay, Florida.
As one would assume of any professional trainer, Battleline Tactical’s dynamic duo of Paronto and Benton emphasized safety.
-Topics of the pistol course for day one included different carry positions in holsters and advantages of each, drawing the weapon from said holster positions from concealment, repeating the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship, target acquisition, how to engage threats from 3 to 25 meters (once again from concealment), close-range shooting from concealment, shooting from simple cover, strong side and support side shooting on the move, multiple target acquisition, low-light shooting, as well as a discussion on pistol ballistics.
-Day two focused on the rifle with pretty much the same kind of topics covered with more detail in loading and unloading the rifle under stress, sight alignment, sight picture, discussion of various optics, breath and trigger control stance, grip and
points of contact, and follow-through.
What impressed me was Benton’s classroom and range presentations.
He demonstrated great patience with all of the students, as there was a range of skill levels. Benton worked assiduously to the late hours of the closing day, ensuring everyone met the qualifications to the instructor’s standards.

If Benton is the yin of the Battleline Tactical training group, then Paronto is the yang. After I had trained with these men for two solid days, many associates asked me to describe Paronto. I had remembered reading a book on Wild Bill Hickok by Richard O’Connor and his description of the shootist was thusly: “Wild Bill was one of the best revolver shots ever produced in the west. He certainly was the best shot in the fight. It is one thing to shoot accurately at a target and another thing to be able to shoot accurately at a man who is shooting at you …
He was devoid of nerves; his mind was clear, his hand steady and his marksmanship certain in the most desperate situation. He never became excited. A cool man is often a phlegmatic man, but Wild Bill was the reverse. He was not only perfectly cool, but he was always alert and nimble of wit, and in action as quick as lightning.”
One could easily substitute the name Kris Paronto for Wild Bill, and substitute semiautomatic pistols for revolvers, and that would be an accurate description.

WHILE ALL THE shooting was intense, the drills set by the hardened Battleline instructors all came from firsthand personal accounts of real-world
experience and not on theory or conjuncture. Benton and Paronto’s military
backgrounds are thoroughly discussed in the New York Times bestselling book 13 Hours, and if the reader thinks this is a shameless plug to buy said book, that would be correct.
Having been in this business for over 35 years myself, I was driven to get into the heads of these two modern Spartans and to understand what motivates them.
After rereading the book, the reasons why made perfect sense.
In the class, one drill was a stress-induced one, which required us participants to run a pretty good distance and then find our personal gun that we had previously placed on a table.
Only that was wrong, because of course the instructors mixed everyone’s guns up. So, you’re scrambling under time to get your gun, sprint back to the range, and
before you could shoot targets you had to put a tourniquet on yourself with one hand as if you were wounded, and get back in the fight.
Tyrone Woods was the Senior GRS Leader for Benton and Paronto’s Protection team in Benghazi. Not only was Woods a Navy SEAL, but he was both a paramedic and nurse.
He drilled this into his team’s heads and it paid off in huge dividends when fellow GRS teammate Mark Geist was badly injured by a mortar round, and that is exactly what he had to do for himself!
If you’re around guns, it makes sense to have as much medical training as you can get, which led to another discussion of carrying personal medical kits, with clotting agents, sterile Kerlix dressing and tourniquets. Of course, for the same
logical reason.
While shooting platforms at the range are different from real-life situations, it was drilled into the class that one can never practice too much in a variety of positions, as the flow of the engagement will dictate how and what shooting
position is used.
Students showed up with a wide variety of rifles, and I was happy to get a chance to shoot three different types of rifles that I have had my sights set on for some
time now: Knight’s Armament, Daniel Defense and Bravo Rifles.
I did marvel at Paronto’s Maxim Defense AR-Pistol Platform and Benton’s personal AR-Pistol platform from Veritas Tactical.
An entire book could be written about how great the training was from Benton and Paronto. All I can say is that in all my years in the field, it was one of the best training experiences I have ever had and would fully recommend Battleline Training to everyone.
Moreover I am proud of these fine men; they are true American heroes.
These gentlemen stand for everything America represents, honoring God, honoring their country, honoring their family and honoring their Battle Buddies with their mantra: “No one gets left behind, even if it costs them their lives.” Ladies and gentlemen, this is what type of men Francis Scott Key was talking about in his national anthem, and these men are why our country truly is the land of the free
and the home of the brave.

Editor’s note: For more information on Battleline Tactical, go to kristantoparonto.com.