Libya: Now What? (Two Updates)


Photo courtesy US Air Force Public Affairs on Flickr.

Twelve hours after the UN Security Council approved a No-Fly Zone over Libya, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa declared a cease-fire.  (Though some doubt Libya’s sincerity)

So everything’s over, right?

Well, not really.  For starters, the No-Fly Zone is still in effect, with the following NATO countries pledging assets:

  • Denmark–awaiting parliamentary approval to send six F-16s and one C-130
  • France–aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is on alert.  Rafales could operate from Toulon or Corsica.
  • Canada–six CF-18s
  • Britain–Tornado jets, Eurofighter Typhoons, and two frigates
  • US–unknown, but air assets are available in Europe, plus the USS Enterprise is in the region.
  • Spain–approximately four F/A-18s
  • Norway–preparing to take part
  • Italy–offered use of airbases

And, of course, success still depends on what one’s eventual goals in Libya are.

What could we realistically achieve with a simple No-Fly Zone?  Merely grounding–or destroying–Qadaffi’s air force won’t do anything to stop heavy armor.

If we decide to destroy heavy armor, how do we coordinate close air support with the rebels?  Give them radios?  Embed special operations teams?  Mission creep approacheth.

Finally, even if Qadaffi is overthrown, there’s no guarantee the rebel government would be any more friendly towards the West.  As Andrew Exum notes, Libya sent more foreign fighters per capita to Iraq than any other country in the Arabic-speaking world.  Especially eastern Libya, the last rebel stronghold.

In conclusion, the gains by the rebels are fragile and reversible.  Tell me how this ends.

(See, I’m ready for that fourth star!)

Update: Well, this explains that whole cease-fire…

Update 2:  Commander Salamander has current information regarding the order of battle for both NATO and Libya at the US Naval Institute.

About Crispin Burke

Major Crispin Burke is a US Army aviator qualified in the UH-60 and LUH-72 helicopters. Major Burke has served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, and Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras. In what is likely a sad statement on the state of humanity, Major Burke's writings, musings, and irreverent cartoons have been featured at Small Wars Journal, National Defense University, Foreign Policy Online, Wired Magazine, Egremont, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Great Satan's Girlfriend.
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