It has been a month since my original proposal to support the Libyan rebels with Special Forces ODAs. A lot has happened since then. At the behest of our host, I offer an update on the situation and my proposal. Let us not mince words. What I propose would actively aid the rebels in defeating Qathafi. There is nothing impartial about this. We should choose unequivocally to free the oppressed in Libya because it is both the right thing to do and well within our capability to accomplish.
The rebel forces are under equipped, under trained and disorganized. That is obvious. Yet they still manage to hold on in the face of mechanized onslaughts from Qathafi's army. They are a mobile force willing to give up ground rather than be cut off and destroyed when faced by vastly superior firepower. However, their mobility depends on light pickup trucks and late model sedans. This force is pretty much limited to the paved coastal road and not capable of cross country maneuver. Maintenance on this fleet of vehicles is probably nonexistent. Overloaded with rebel fighters, crew served weapons and ammunition, these vehicles will start breaking down in large numbers soon. Another danger facing this road bound force is Qathafi's use of land mines. They've recently been seen in front of Sirte.
The physical environment and available resources dictate that the rebels should remain a lightly armed, mobile guerilla force rather than trying to become a conventional mechanized army. To do this, the rebels do not need to be armed by NATO. They have the weapons they need. If anything, NATO could provide fuel and supply trucks - preferably full. That would be helpful. The Libyan Army units and soldiers that have sided with the rebels are probably no more familiar with creating a mobile guerilla force than the youth in their pickup trucks. This is where the deployment of SFODAs would do the most good.
Rather than taking the time to formally organize and train conventional rebel military units from scratch, I would very quickly send several ODA's forward from Benghazi to the front lines to work with what's already there. Some informal small unit leaders have no doubt already emerged on the highway between Benghazi and Sirte. Begin by working with these natural small unit leaders and their followers to form units similar to the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) of WW II fame. Judging only by watching news footage, it seems there are sufficient off road vehicles, 106 mm recoilless rifles, heavy machine-guns and light AAA to equip a number of small reconnaissance/raiding groups. The ODA's should deploy with vehicles (and possibly weapons) similar to what the rebels are already using, just newer with a lot less wear and tear on them. That way they can bring a lot more medical and communications gear than if they were just humping rucksacks. Whatever vehicles the ODAs bring in would be used to train the rebels and would not be part of any SF exclusive combat unit. Think of it as a small version of the lend-lease program.
Training of these mobile guerilla recon/raiding units would include cross country navigation, mounted and dismounted reconnaissance patrolling, communications, and EFFECTIVE long range use of the weapons carried by the groups. That includes conservation of ammunition. Maintenance and logistics training will be critical. There must be a lot of mechanics in Libya to maintain all those pickups and cars. They can help the rebel force more by turning a wrench than by firing a weapon. I doubt this rebellion will be over in a week or two, and the side without effective logistics will eventually grind to a halt. Employment of these mobile guerilla units would begin with what UW doctrine terms confidence missions - limited objective missions to to train the rebels to operate effectively as a team and to build their confidence in their abilities. These actual combat missions would begin in a matter of days of the arrival of the ODAs at the front lines. No graduation certificates. No badges. Just on the job training to defeat Qathafi's forces. As more rebel leaders develop or just surface in these initial units, new units would be formed around those new rebel leaders, trained and employed in combat. Special Forces soldiers will remain with the mobile units to train, advise and provide special skills such as coordinating air and naval fire support.
Recent reporting from the latest running of the Benghazi handicaps indicates that sandstorms may have hampered NATO interdiction of Qathafi's forces advancing from Sirte. Effective rebel LRDG-like patrols could continue to raid and harass Qathafi's logistical and fire support units when NATO aircraft are not available. When aircraft like the AC-130 and A-10 are available, they can be directed to targets by these patrols with the help of the embedded Green Berets. Qathafi's forces are apparently attempting to adapt to operate under NATO airstrikes. The creation and employment of mobile guerilla units will become a necessary adaption for the rebels.
I leave you with the NASA Pirate Code written by John Muratore, an engineer and NASA program manager renowned for his creativity and ability to get things done faster, better and cheaper. I believe his code describes how a mobile guerilla force of Libyan rebels trained, advised Special Forces professionals would operate and eventually bring freedom to all Libyans.
- Pirates have to know what they’re doing.
- If we fail, there is no mercy.
- You’re operating outside the normal support structure of society. It’s all about knowing all the details.
- You hit hard and fast. Pirates don’t spend months wandering around.
- Pirates live on the edge or just in front of the wave that is about to catch them.
- Piracy is about taking risks. Occasionally we’re going to fail and you’ll get some holes blown in you.
- Pirates don’t have resources to waste. You’re always operating on a thin margin, not in fat city.
- We’re all banded together.
The Twisted Genius