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25 February 2011

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VietnamVet

Walrus and Fabius points are well taken.

If ever there was a call for intervention, Libya is the place; First, Oil to keep the world economy going, and, Second, a tyrant’s reign of terror using foreign mercenaries. [Why is this week the first I’ve heard of Black Africans for hire in North Africa; maybe, because Gaddafi was our Boy?]

Special Forces could do their thing. A no fly zone is viable if there is an exit plan unlike Iraq. My Concern is can the American Government to anything competently and where’s the money to support the Operation. The Boots on the Ground have to be trusted by the Libyans not to steal their oil and women and belong to the True Religion. That leaves Turkey with European logistics.

The experts here can tell us if it will happen or not.

citizen

To William Cumming,

Nobody, pro or anti-intervention, is denying the charges against "MQ" or what he intends to do, which is to crush his opponents using extreme methods, although how extreme remains to be seen. But he has crossed a line, the case is clear, clear to the point that this part of the argument can be put aside. May sound callous but there it is.

(1) What forces should we send? What's necessary to have a substantial impact?

Luckily, as was pointed out above, foreign entities could supply Eastern Libya with aid from the ocean without too much trouble from MQ's forces. I'd add it's nice that this region shares a border with Egypt. The Libyans have already cleared a basis. But aid without a no-fly zone makes little sense. This civil war appears to be conventional, if asymmetric, no? I speak in terms of tactics by both parties. I'm no expert, but with this in mind, for any sort of parity air power is a must.

A battalion of blue helmets? Re-deploy our over-extended special ops groups from Afghanistan? Send the USS Kearsarge ARG with the 26th MEU (now in the 5th Fleet's AOR)? Larger forces?

No, but it depends on who wants to own this war.

3) How long will they stay?

See above. Also, nobody can answer that. Any answer, using any metrics, would be suspect. Also, we can't even leave Germany! We have a tendency to hang around even when a good many of us don't want to remain. I could see a political scrabble over leaving Libya.

4) They'll be uninvited infidel foreigners. Will they stabilize or destabilize the situation?

Do we know that? We know, or are told, so little about the oppositional forces that it's hard to say. See comments below and above.

5) What precedent does this create? Civil wars are a dime a dozen. How do we choose in which ones to play? Are we there to keep the oil flowing, or for humanitarian reasons? The first makes this a special case (of esp interest to the Saudi people); the second makes us global cops."

I agree, precedent should always be kept in mind. Our legal and political system is based on precedent. With that in mind, these revolutions may offer the US a way to make a semi-graceful and beneficial exit from the bind we find ourselves in. I go back to a Turkish headed initiative. If such a thing could go off well, I see it as strong plus for the US, a blow to Al Qaida et al and neoconservatism, and a chance for improved US relations with the Muslim world.

Much of this boils down to what US political and economic leaders would make of the war. Remember, we are not a homogeneous entity. Everybody will have their own political, institutional, ideological and economic agendas, some of which may overlap, going in there. One of the critiques is that Libyans were left out of the loop, they want a piece of the action, that means redistribution. But they are poorly educated and our m.o. has recently been privatization and neoliberalism. I'm not arguing for or against nationalization of natural resources. I'm just saying that Libyan and US desires and goals could easily come into conflict with each other. I'm assuming a dominant US role, which might not be the case.

Could Libya afford to run the country Emirati style, pay the people off and continue to use foreign expertise? Got to love the potential Homeric Irony here, land of the Lotus eaters and all that.

They could scale back on military purchases which would free up cash for domestic spending. But how would that impact foreign aid that they would most certainly require? I ramble, short answer, from my vantage point, nothing is certain at this point.

The Twisted Genius

I suggest the goal of any military operation be primarily to neutralize the mercenary forces employed by Qathaafi with the neutralization of those forces firing on unarmed Libyans as the secondary objective. Enforcing a no fly zone would be the first action followed by insertion of a Ranger battalion or two to focus on the two goals above. AC-130 gunships and drones could support the Rangers. Insert SF teams to contact the "Free Libyan" forces to explain our actions, coordinate our actions with the Free Libyan forces and offer assistance as requested... the classic UW stuff that we all did in ROBIN SAGE.

Libyans will liberate Libya. We wil assist by negating the outside influences (mercenaries). The Rangers should be pulled out as the Free Libyan forces (armed or not) move into Tripoli. The SF teams can stay as liaison to the Free Libyans and continue their UW/humanitarian support activities.

All this would have to be done now, not two weeks from now.

A Tunisian classmate of mine at the SF course in 1982 told me how Qathaafi would ruin every summer with his antics. He hoped someday we could together rid the world of that miserable bastard. I'm too old, fat and broken down to help now, but why not ask the Tunisians (and Eqyptians) to help.

Apologies to all for this off-the-cuff armchair generalship.

bth

I note that there are women in the crowds and that the signs are hand made and not anti-western.

I note that party loyalists are giving cars, cash and guns to thugs that will ride around with them shooting at protesters.

What would a few well placed gratuities do to flip some the remaining military base commanders, open the political prisons, cause the check points to become unmanned and remaining loyalists to find pressing business elsewhere.

Besides a tardy but inevitable naval presence and potentially an air cap and humanitarian aid, one might think a discrete but firm touch on the ground from the CIA might be in order.

William R. Cumming

Bth! Agree with all your comments except the one concerning MQ be immediately disposed of when found. The same arguments were made by those probably in the majority who had been fighting the NAZIs. Nuremberg was an interesting choice for the UN and Allies. It led to the very first time to a legal formulation that has proved to have some staying power. Trial and conviction and appropriate sentences for those individuals responsible for crimes against humanity. MQ I believe would be a very effective example for such a trial and its expected outcome. The problem for posterity and humanity is like the situation in Argentina when modern regimes are so skilled in the ability to making a blank of the past, including the disappeared. The real lesson of the 20th Century to the 21st is how skilled a bureacratic state apparatus can be in protecting itself from reform, defending itself from outsiders, and making sure that even if it loses history has a black hole of its worst activities and propensities. Look at those who would deny the existence of the Holocaust, or Wounded Knee, or Rape of Shanghia. And the events are often so awful humans necessarily don't want to have to relive them. But we must if we the people are to evolve into some form of higher existence on the water planet. It is a tough tough road to follow, however, as the temptation is to try and shorten it.

Twit

Regarding Fabius Maxiumus' Question #3 (They'll be uninvited infidel foreigners. Will they stabilize or destabilize the situation?)

One potentially relevant fact (if true): One of Libya's former diplomats (unfortunately missed the name of this particular one) said this morning on Al Jazeera that very little of the opposition is using cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, or any other electronic means to organize and coordinate its actions. Instead word of mouth among trusted communities and other 'old school' communication methods are apparently ruling the day.

Wouldn't this be an extremely helpful factor for any UW operation? In particular, wouldn't it would open up a realistic opportunity that SF soldiers could convince the 'Free Libyans' that they were there to help rather than invade, and also lessen the likelihood that after said convincing, it would not be undone by electronically-spread rumors to the contrary?

If so, that would help mitigate the infidel issue and the destabilization risk.

Clifford Kiracofe

"BAMAKO, Mali – His allies and even his own diplomats are abandoning him, but African fighters are pledging to defend embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "to the end."

The African fighters that Gadhafi is allegedly using against protesters come from several nations, representing a map of the Libyan leader's often contentious history with his neighbors.

Many young citizens of Mali and Niger who flocked to Libya in the 1970s and 1980s were ethnic Tuaregs and were recruited into an "Islamic Legion" modeled on the French Foreign Legion.

A Tuareg politician in Mali said he believes 16,000 Tuareg remain in the Libyan security forces, based in Tripoli and Sabha but not in Benghazi, a major city that has broken away from Gadhafi's rule.

"We've been getting updates from some of them by phone," Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh told The Associated Press. "They say their orders are to protect Gadhafi and they will defend him to the end."

"Witnesses in Libya have reported African fighters shooting at protesters or being captured by anti-Gadhafi forces. Witnesses have described mercenaries being flown in to put down the rebellion, but most fighters are already in the strife-torn country."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110226/ap_on_re_af/af_gadhafi_african_mercenaries/print

J

Colonel,

Neocon Hawks Take Flight Over Libya

The same group of PNAC (now FPI) individuals who helped pave the way for military intervention in the Balkans and Iraq are now trying to encourage U.S. military action over Libya.

William R. Cumming

IF the report of Tuareg forces fighting on behalf of MQ are correct this one will only end with total anniliation of that force. The Tuareg are serious fighters, like the Afghans.

walrus

Tweets seem to indicate that Libyans do not want foreign military intervention.

Humanitarian assistance and C3I are another matter.

I also note that Air Afriqyah is still flying into and out of Tripoli. I can only assume that a deal has been done to allow refugee flights out of Tripoli in exchange for this, otherwise European countries should have closed airspace to Afriqyah and/or grounded what aircraft they have in European ports.

Got A Watch

I don't think a large intervention is necessary.

A couple of cruise missiles take out Gaddafi's HQ in the middle of the night. Who's to say what caused the big explosion? A big crater is seen at sunrise.

An official "we neither confirm nor deny, shrug" if anyone asks who did it. Maybe somebody mishandled some munitions?

No need to send any boots in. Once Gaddafi and/or his high military command is eliminated, his "Government" would be gone within 24 hours, IMHO.

But that would take leadership from principled men. Instead, the alleged "free world" (cough)has O-don't-blame-me-a, whose only goal seems to be deflecting blame on every issue.

The Brits have probably had more success with their directly contacting Libyan military officers to tell them they will be charged with war crimes if they continue to support Gaddafi.

The UN won't sanction any intervention, I've read, as China and Russia would veto it - might create a bad precedent next time they use their armed forces to suppress their people.

Patrick Lang

Got a Watch

The targeting is the problem. We tried in '86 with this man and repeatedly with SH during the 1st Gulf War. No joy. pl

Medicine Man

Given the domestic issues the Egyptian military is dealing with (shepherding) at the moment, isn't the likelihood of an intervention spearheaded by them rather remote? I think you can make a pretty good case that it is in their best interests to help stabilize their neighboring state, but do they have the breathing room politically...?

Would it be possible, or useful, for the US to arm the eastern tribes/people?

J

Colonel,

Well it seems the losers of the AF Tanker bids are the 'silent partner' of the EADs/McCain, a one Seif bin-Islam Qathaafi. The winners are Boeing.

I have to wonder why McCain hasn't been investigated for his criminal malfeasance of his Senatorial office and Senate Armed Services Committee membership involving the EADs tanker deal.

William R. Cumming

PL! Are we watching the Tribes of Libya lining up to take on MQ and his loyalists?
What does that mean for a successor government if there is one?
Who is US DOD or STATE or IC expert on Libya's tribes? And I understand most of the black merks are Islamic and wonder if that is accurate? Is there a Sunni/Shia issue in Libya? I thought it was over 90% Sunni?

Patrick Lang

WRC

The tribes appear to be divided with some sticking with MQ. That is in the nature of tribes. If there ever was a USG expert on Libyan tribes he is probably in his 80s now. pl

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL! The seeds of the problem for the insurgents is contained in your answer and also the reason the US efforts to intervene if they occur may be a disaster for the US.

Charles I

France has landed humanitarian aid flights in Benghazi.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12599831

"Libya and Tunisia prompt France foreign policy changes

. . . Now comes a French move to win hearts and minds in the new Libya: the first consignment of humanitarian aid.

The two planes France sent to the eastern city of Benghazi carried doctors, nurses, medicine and medical equipment to ease the pressure on hospitals in the east of Libya.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon hailed "the beginning of a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of the liberated territories".

"And you will have seen that France was in the forefront of the decisions taken to sanction Col Gaddafi," he said.

"We were the ones who called on the European Council to adopt a joint position on this matter."
'Limited interests'

It is striking how quickly the Elysee Palace has moved on this latest crisis.. ."


Finally heard Clinton call for MQ's removal at the UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva.

CBC radio reported "reports of British and U.S. "advisors" on the ground in eastern Libya.

walrus

"The targeting is the problem. We tried in '86 with this man and repeatedly with SH during the 1st Gulf War. No joy. pl "

Agree 100%; the simplest most elementary precautions by Ghaddafi will frustrate us. What we would need is some good old fashioned treachery from someone in his inner circle, and even then we would need to be lucky.

I have to also ask, would it ultimately be cheaper to just "buy" the tribal supporters of Ghaddaffi and also his mercenaries? Could we also "buy" his potential recruits?

Are the CIA smart enough to execute a mission like that Col. Lang?

Fred

Based on the comments from Fabius Maxmus (What forces, what timing, how long) and your request I gave this some thought. I think initially one needs to look at the logistics first, then the political ramifications then the forces required. First is water, food, fuel and ammunition, followed by other support elements. How long is a good question. I would hope 90 days, but remembering we are approaching ten years in Iraq, that may be far too optimistic.

As to forces, whose? US and who else? France, Spain, Italy and Germany seem the most likely countries. Perhaps Turkey. Any chance of Morocco would be willing to supply troops? Maybe Egypt on the Eastern border, at least for some kind of refugee assistance?

Once I started actually looking I realize just how little I know about each countries military capabilities, though there are lots of sources on the web. I think you could put 20,000 troops in pretty quickly if you could get the countries to agree. US, 173rd Airborne, the fleet marine forces in the Med. French and Spanish legion troops, Italian marine and parachute regiments. German support units, I don't think they can legally send combat forces. If reports are correct on the number of tanks in Libia's army then you'll want some armour.

Air and Naval support? Both the Spanish, French and Italians have carrier forces and escorts. US land based aircraft if no carriers are on station.

The next questions are who commands, where do you land and do you actively seek to engage Qaddhafi's mercenaries and supporters? I hope so otherwise you'll be tied down guarding 1,000 miles of pipeline and scattered oil field equipment.

How do you get the regular armed forces of Libya to change sides? What provisional replacement government is there? The example of L Paul Bremer should remind us of what not to do once the leadership of Libya is gone.

But the more I thought this over the more I realized this is a very complex task needing some real planning. Just the countries I mentioned gives you six or seven different languages to deal with. Getting there is probably the easiest part. Being effective in removing the butchers shouldn't be too difficult if the right forces are committed.

Fred

Based on the comments from Fabius Maximus (What forces, what timing, how long) and your request I gave this some thought. I think initially one needs to look at the logistics first, then the political ramifications then the forces required. First is water, food, fuel and ammunition, followed by other support elements. How long is a good question. I would hope 90 days, but remembering we are approaching ten years in Iraq, that may be far too optimistic.

As to forces, whose? US and who else? France, Spain, Italy and Germany seem the most likely countries. Perhaps Turkey. Any chance of Morocco would be willing to supply troops? Maybe Egypt on the Eastern border, at least for some kind of refugee assistance?

Once I started actually looking I realize just how little I know about each countries military capabilities, though there are lots of sources on the web. I think you could put 20,000 troops in pretty quickly if you could get the countries to agree. US, 173rd Airborne, the fleet marine forces in the Med. French and Spanish legion troops, Italian marine and parachute regiments. German support units, I don't think they can legally send combat forces. If reports are correct on the number of tanks in Libia's army then you'll want some armour.

Air and Naval support? Both the Spanish, French and Italians have carrier forces and escorts. US land based aircraft if no carriers are on station.

The next questions are who commands, where do you land and do you actively seek to engage Qaddhafi's mercenaries and supporters? I hope so otherwise you'll be tied down guarding 1,000 miles of pipeline and scattered oil field equipment.

How do you get the regular armed forces of Libya to change sides? What provisional replacement government is there? The example of L Paul Bremer should remind us of what not to do once the leadership of Libya is gone.

But the more I thought this over the more I realized this is a very complex task needing some real planning. Just the countries I mentioned gives you six or seven different languages to deal with. Getting there is probably the easiest part. Being effective in removing the butchers shouldn't be too difficult if the right forces are committed. Who is the government once you are done, how quick can the combat units get out? Can the US avoid being entagled by the desire to train, arm and equip the 'new' Libyan armed forces and police?

William R. Cumming

Fred! All NATO pilots must be proficient in English.

Fred

WRC,

Yes, but 20,000 or so infantry don't and aren't. I think the logistics are more of the problem, ammo etc doesn't come like manna from heaven because of whispered prayers into a radio. Not to mention what you'll need to feed 2,000,000 people in Tripoli. I rather doubt the normal shipping lines are delivering on schedule.

William R. Cumming

FEDING the Libyans both in Tripoli and elsewhere is huge problem for those with humanitarian concerns. Hey may they have copies of Harrison Salsibury's "The 900 Day" discussing seige of Leningrad in WWII by NAZIs! Not enough dates to go around!

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