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A top military intelligence official at the time of the Benghazi attacks testified Thursday that U.S. personnel "should have tried" to help Americans under fire on Sept. 11, 2012, in an unprecedented public statement from a leading military officer. Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell, who at the time of the attacks was the deputy intelligence director at U.S. Africa Command, questioned the merits of the ongoing debate over whether U.S. military forces could have responded in time. Leading Pentagon and other military officials previously have argued that additional U.S. assets were not deployed to assist Americans under attack that night because they weren't close enough."The point is we should have tried," Lovell told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in his opening statement. "As another saying goes -- always move to the sound of the guns." He later said the military "could have made a response of some sort." Lovell, who was stationed in Germany during the attack, made clear repeatedly that the military was waiting for clearance from the State Department to intervene in Benghazi. Lovell also sharply countered claims that the intelligence community and military initially thought this was a protest over an anti-Islam video gone awry. He said U.S. officials knew this was a "hostile action" from the outset, even though they didn't know how long the attack would last. [Bold added]