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11 March 2011


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Mike C

Ken Hoop-

I have to say I am as completely divided on what to do about Libya as I can be.

I believe absolutely that we could do some good there, and that our leadership is certain to screw it up. I'm neither a dogmatic anti-interventionist, nor am I a blinkered neocon/ neolib hawk. Col. Lang and TTG have a good plan, and I have little confidence that it's the one we'll use. If Qathafi and his spawn hold on they'll create problems for years, if we help get rid of him there's no guarantee it will be better. Blowback is a given either way.

It's a fork in the road kind of situation. Time's wasting. What's the right option?

Prof. Kiracofe, TTG, Charles I-

Thanks. I should be a little more clear about my concerns. My understanding of our current CAS doctrine (which I'm not a big fan of) is that we'll depend on precision-guided weapons dropped from about 15 thousand AGL or higher to stay clear of the "trash fire" AAA and MANPADS. Spotting targets from that altitude, even through a EO/IR pod (which F-22s do not carry btw), is terribly difficult by all accounts. The more I think about this, the more positive I am we'll need eyes on ground level to do much good. There are too many tricks MQ can use to keep our uncertainty high, and political reality isn't going to tolerate many mistakes. Per the AvWeek article, we very well might have those eyes in position- if we jump in, I hope that's the case.

The Twisted Genius

Mike C,

I believe our air options are broader than you think, especially against targets deployed along a coastal road in flat desert terrain. F-22s are not the only option. F-16s and FA-18s are both capable of shooting down Qathafi's aircraft and destroying his tanks and artillery from low altitude. Just imagine what a few A-10s would do if they were available. The French also have an array of effective aircraft. Of course suppression of the air defense systems is a necessary concern. Our ECM capabilities are probably fairly effective to assist in this matter.

Another option is naval gunfire. I can vouch for the effectiveness of a barrage of five inch shells in stopping an assault. It worked in Lebanon. If, as your article suggests, we do have eyes on the ground performing a SICTA mission (strategic intelligence collection target acquisition), this would be an especially sweet option.

I just read of desertions from the Khamis Brigade now in front of Misrata. I'm now more convinced than ever that a series of limited attacks, aerial or naval, would cause Qathafi's frontline troops to collapse or at least become offensively ineffective. The rebels taking Tripoli... that's a whole different problem.

Clifford Kiracofe

"A strategic town is lost in the east with another expected to follow soon. In the west, a symbolic centre of resistance is about to suffer an onslaught that it is unlikely to survive. With no international action to stop Muammar Gaddafi's fierce offensive, the survival of Libya's revolution hangs in a precarious balance.

Just four days ago the picture was very different: the rebel fighters were seemingly on a march to the capital, Tripoli, and the enemy was in disarray and retreat. But a series of misjudgements, and chronic lack of planning and organisation, have resulted in a dramatic reversal. The regime's troops are poised to strike at Benghazi, the capital of "Free Libya''....

Mike C


I do appreciate you taking the time. And I agree, our air power has more options available, they just need to be let off the chain. The crews know the threat systems, they don't take stupid chances with their lives or the taxpayers' planes.

I need to understand something a little better: The point of air power and naval gunfire is to take back the initiative... how's this going to look from the perspective of the rebels? Is there a wrong way to do this? -This relates to that T.E. Lawrence quote "Do not try to do too much with your own hands. (etc)."

I'd like to add this to my comment for Ken Hoop. I'm still divided about what's the best course here, but the President pledged our support to the rebel cause. That was an ill-considered thing for him to do, especially because he wasn't ready to follow through. Turn him out of office in a year and half, then. The only thing worse for the Libyans than knowing they have no help, is to be told it's coming when it never will. This seems like a weak thread to grab onto, but helping the Libyans might give us a little heart as well.

The Twisted Genius

The limited application of air and/or naval power as I suggest would not take back the initiative. It would hopefully provide the rebels some needed breathing space so that they can take back the initiative. It would encourage FUD and further desertions among Qathafi's units. Even the insertion of several ODAs to assist the rebels is in line with T.E. Lawrence's admonition not to do too much with one's own hands. That concept is inherent in the UW mission.

A further note on history. The North African Campaign in WW II was characterized by extreme fluidity of the front lines. The constant chase back and forth along the coast of Libya was known as "The Benghazi Handicaps." The rapid advances and retreats we are seeing in this revolution do not guarantee victory or defeat for either side.

Patrick Lang


Richard O'Connor. I have long thought he and Slim the best Brit generals of WW2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_O%27Connor

I suppose I am prejudiced because he said that he learned much from Henderson's "Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War."

I believe the back and forth was caled something like "The Benghazi Stakes." pl



"A further note on history. The North African Campaign in WW II was characterized by extreme fluidity of the front lines. The constant chase back and forth along the coast of Libya was known as "The Benghazi Handicaps." The rapid advances and retreats we are seeing in this revolution do not guarantee victory or defeat for either side. "

With respect, I don't think that applies when your family happens to be in close proximity to the fighting, instead of being a few thousand miles away in Germany or Britain.

As an aside, vast areas of the Egyptian and Libyan deserts are still mined from WWII.

Charles I

TTG my forest friend, I wish the A10's had been sent in immediately, as I've been touting for weeks.

Imagine how heartening for the rebels, how legitimating for the US news shots of 2-4 A10's shooting up the planes, tanks and depots in Tripoli. Would have taken 15 minutes to almost certainly tip the scales from the outset. they might even have been too stunned to mount much AA the first sortie.


Ken Hoop,

Larison was better in his first writings:

"The abuse of language invites moral turpitude and abuses of power.

Craven fear, lack of principle and desire for advancement all play a part in why so many collaborate with the introduction of meaningless language and the double tyranny of nonsense and despotic political power."


Clifford Kiracofe

From the field Sunday:

"The rebel commander, Gen Abdul Fattah Younis, reminded a news conference on Sunday of the special nature of desert warfare...." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12732613

Mike C


The picture is a lot clearer now, thank you.

And I'll see your A-10s and raise you two pair of AC-130s. But they'd better get in there soon.

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