Before a No Fly Zone

Now I know the image is the flag of Afghanistan but before we start thinking about no fly zones and humanitarian intervention in Libya we need to look at the aspects of ‘learning lessons’ from the previous post on Afghanistan.

Emotionally, it’s a no brainer isn’t it, Gaddafi is bombing civilians with his aircraft and the morally right thing to do is step in and stop it.

But a no fly zone means that we have to enter another nations airspace uninvited and and that nation has the right to defend itself, whoever we might be right. Realistically, we would have to precursor that operations with a destruction of Libyan ground based air defences for example, that means killing Libyans.

Are we thinking twice, hopefully all the talk is measured to achieve an effect, a slow ratcheting up of pressure designed to convince those with most to lose that it is worth losing compared to the alternative.

If we do commit there will be consequences, lives will be lost, mostly Libyan but very possibly UK and allied service personnel. What are the political, long term implications of intervening in what is shaping up to be a civil war.

The question we need to ask is this

What is in it for the UK

If we do decide to intervene for humanitarian reasons or to to facilitate a change of government then what is our ultimate end objective, without an objective then there can be no strategy.

The role of Libya’s neighbours has to be fully articulated, if there is to be a no fly zone then they should be fully engaged, if not, the question as to why we are doing something should be ringing in the back of everyone’s minds.

Finally, the politicians need to be very clear that their mouths are not writing cheques the armed forces cannot cash and the service chiefs need to find the backbone to be very clear what the limits of our capabilities are.

Only then should we discuss the ways and means.

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Alex
Alex
March 2, 2011 10:46 am

I get the impression it’s no longer so much that he’s using the slack handful of Su22s that still work, as he’s using the substantial fleet of airlifters (Libyan Arab Air Cargo, which is run by their air force, has an Antonov-124!) available to him to support his war-effort by bringing in mercenaries and arms. It might be less an NFZ as in Iraq as an economic blockade.

Of course, the NFZ in Iraq didn’t work as a means of preventing the repression of the Shia (although it worked out rather better in Kurdistan).

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 2, 2011 11:44 am

Watching the news it appears the Rebels don’t want our help on the ground,however it appears Gadaffi is launching counter attacks so that may change depending on how successful he is. Although a NFZ would be more welcomed I don’t think they realise that will mean loss of Libyan life.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 2, 2011 11:45 am

I was aghast to hear Cameron banging on about military intervention when even the USA is being far more cautious. What on earth does he think he’s playing at? Being Churchill – or Tony Blair? What is it that gets into our politicians when they become PM? Why do they get such delusions of grandeur?

If he really wants to make a worthwhile contribution he should send our air transport fleet to Tunisia to help transport the stranded refugee Egyptians home. Apart from being worth doing on its own humanitarian merits, that would earn us lots of brownie points with Egypt and probably other Arab nations as well.

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 2, 2011 11:59 am

TW
To be far to Cameron, he’s just jumped on a band wagon.
He should of course have checked it was heading for the cliff edge first, but its simply untrue to say Cameron has come out of no where and strutted his stuff, or lack thereof.

He was several days behind the iPad Interventionists at the Guardian…

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 2, 2011 12:04 pm

My head nearly fell into my hands when I heard that William Hague had said, “We don’t need a UN resolution.” I fear that David Cameron is gaining Tony Blairs blood lust, I also fear that its the smell of Libyanoil that is the driver and not the humanitarian issue. If we’re such a friend of Egypt shouldn’t we be helping ship there people back home?

With regards to the no-fly zone, I wonder if the RAF upper echelons are pushing this from behind the scenes to reduce the impact of the SDSR.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 2, 2011 12:16 pm

@ Tony – A very good point and in my opinion reinforces the need for the RAF to focus on the support functions as well as the fast sexy shooty things.
Although tempted by the Liberal side and the idea of intervening directly it increasing appears that would be a mistake. We can, however, do a lot “around the edges” to contain the situation.

Jed
Jed
March 2, 2011 2:13 pm

It’s a civil war. I have also read that the ‘rebels’ don’t want our help, no problem. If at some point they do want our help, then send them some arms shipments, they hold enough ports.

As noted above Libyan Arab Air Force is hardly operational, so why not ship the rebels some second hand Russian MANPADS or some older version Stingers ?

I think the Egyptians are well organised enough, having moved field hospitals and other units to the border. Perhaps we should just offer Tunisia some assistance – engineers and airlift – that is of course if we actually have anything spare to offer……

But “no fly zone” – does not really seem necessary.

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 2, 2011 2:23 pm

RS
I think that getting involved in Libya is a bad idea, but believe me, theres no energy barrier that will stop the arms shipments that only a UN resolution can lift.

The Tories never had much truck with “International Law” or the UN, res 502 called for both sides to employ no further military action.

Its Labour and the Liberals who believe the world should be ran by self appointed judges.

Jed
“But “no fly zone” – does not really seem necessary.”
Sounds sexier though…

Phil Darley
March 2, 2011 2:28 pm

I too was shocked at Cameron’s bullish approach. My thoughts were with what would we be getting involved? The military cupboard is nearly empty and is getting close to breing completely empty.

It seems that the Tornado’s have had a partial reprieve it seems only two squadrons are to be axes not the entire fleet.

BBC news whilst covering a NAO report on tge poor value for money of the Typhoon, seemed to confirm that the total UK purchase will be 72 less than originally planned. This only makes sense if they can all be upgraded to T3. I have read and heard differing views on this from, they were and can be upgraded to they were never intended ti be upgraded.

I have publications from years ago that seem to indicate that they were supposed to be upgradeable! Is it that BAE is just asking too much to perform the upgrade more than it’s
Technically not possible.

160 Typhoons at full T3 spec especially if it includes the AESA radar and PIRaTE. Then fine, even better if it includes EJ230 or EJ270s with tvc.

I think there is a very strong case for retaining
At least half the Harriers to provide a carrier based capability and retain FAA skills. I also think that Boeing and BAE should be thinking about a new Harrier built around a fully developed/upgraded Pegasus engine but with all new airframe and avionics.

paul g
March 2, 2011 2:34 pm

Hmmmm just sit back and watch the fun methinks, any bloke who goes on international TV and says the rebels are been given arms and drugs by al-queeda has just assured themselves an interview with allah!

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 2, 2011 3:19 pm

Palg
Oh God, please tell me David hasnt said that.

Mike
Mike
March 2, 2011 3:31 pm

I dont think the UK should play any frontline part in any ‘no fly zone’ – if it goes ahead, as TD pointed out, the neighbours and closer NATO allies are far better suited for it, what we *could* do is leand much needed tarmac space at Cyprus and offer our AEW and tanking capability.

Re the Libyan air force, dont be so sure about ‘it being barely operational’, their F1’s have been upgraded, Su-22’s still operational and their Su-24’s still live-and-kicking…or bombing;
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12618367
Their rotary wing fleet is still operational too.

Of course a question of pilot skill and logistics etc, but remember, the Iraqi’s were supposed to be ‘not so good’ and so were the Serbs, and they claimed a few shoot-downs… in todays forces in particular, a single loss of an aircraft and crew would be pretty badly felt…hence the Americans urge to tell the public that you cant simply fly around, the AAA/SAM defences – although antique – are still a threat, it was a rather antique system in Kosovo that claimed an F-117 after all.

The general idea I get from the press is that most – if not all – Libyans dont want our boots on their turf, but want his planes swatted from the sky, could be done – but what of the airfields further south? – infact little has been reported about the south of the country.

I generally stick that the UK – although has oil and arms interests in the region (and perhaps why cameroon is so vocal? To hide the fact that we had a hand in gadaffis game?) – should be second line or out of this.
Cameroon is barking loud, but with our forces committed to many other areas, we have little bite (sharp and nasty still! But not as big as it was)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 2, 2011 4:15 pm

Interesting article on the Naval aspects of the situation – http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/8060/over-the-horizon-sea-power-and-the-arab-spring

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 2, 2011 4:18 pm

A “no-fly zone”is definitely a useless expense, just a Potemkin intervention. (Mike, it’s true there’s been an upgrade on the F1s, but how many pilots are loyal out of the total we still don’t know, the sample size on sorties seems about two-thirds, and I would like to be in a Libyan get at BVR with American F/A-18s or Italian Typhoons out of Sicily. But it’s still a strategically useless measure.) And there is both pride and sensible interest (don’t “intervene” and take our stuff a la Iraq) behind Libyan opinion. The attitude’s spread across the region — Turkish ministers saying it would be “ridiculous” for NATO to get involved are playing to a home crowd that thinks it’s the ex-Ottomans’ job! (And looks askance at Egyptian involvement, Turkey and Egypt fought two wars in the 19th C that might as well have been last year in Cairo and Istanbul.) Plus the rebels seem to be taking AAA in hand themselves, parading AA guns for Canadian and American news crews (not sure about what footage is on BBC these days), and Gaddafi’s pilots just tried and filed to hit an armoury full of MANPADS outside Benghazi.

What could the outside world do?

– Be sensible, for once, and sort of transparent, and respectful by getting in a conversation with the rebels about how they plan to form an alternative government and (a nudge to remind them) secure the oil fields to the south before Gaddafi does. The French plan of aid is not bad, it’s face saving after the disaster of their Foreign Minister, and it also goads the Italians into getting off the pot about what they plan to do rather than “lose” Libya to French influence. (I’d love to Wikileaks the last 15 years of Quai d’Orsay correspondence and drop it on the FCO’s doorstep with a note that says “Learn, Guys.”)
– If the UN screws up its courage, blockade. Old-fashioned, not as sexy as no-fly zones, but as a couple of people pointed out already the main danger is material and mercs getting in through porous borders/sea lanes to boost Gaddafi.
– Lean on the Tunisians to make sure those borders are open, so the international community can help the Egyptians et al. get home before Egypt decides to do it themselves and makes a real mess. And that, truly, is just about getting the fairly professional Tunisian army to open the border crossings, from their own soil, by deterrence. That American uncle of mine had experience of same, alongside the Bundesgrenzschutz, on the Czech border in ’68. They quietly let the Pact border security guys know, “look, this is the IGB so we *really* don’t want trouble, but if you shoot at refugees who’ve managed to get to the border itself, we’ll shoot you.” Thousands upon thousands of Egyptian de-facto hostages is the nightmare scenario. Egypt would crush Gaddafi like a bug, but the Libyan public would never forgive them for stepping their big boot in. Get the Tunisians to grease the wheel, then sort everybody out when they’re over the border.
– In the worst event, the only actual military intevention that makes sense is very simple: kill Gaddafi and his senior sons. Now this isn’t a job for underwater knife ninjas, they’d be trying to infil and exfil through a small army and rabbit’s-nest city of two millions. Not really a job for bombs and missiles either, the Gaddafis move around a bit and explosions in building structures are unreliable, as the July Movement guys in Nazi Germany could tell you. Really you’re talking about at least a brigade’s worth of “initial entry” hard men with perhaps some SF killer teams attached, to isolate and wipe out whatever palace they’re having a confab in. Then get on the helos/ships and **go home** and let Libyans sort out the rest. Not to different from what should have been done in the Stan ….

Anything else is useless chest puffing. And God, CallMeDave looks worse than ever at this, a jumped up favorite-son with his school tie on at his dad’s board meeting.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 2, 2011 4:21 pm

John Simpson (of the BBC) reporting Gadaffi forces repulsed by rebels and town previously re-taken by them “free” once more. And I’m pretty sure I saw a pile of MANPADS lined up against a wall… Could be wrong…

Marcase
Marcase
March 2, 2011 4:26 pm

A no-fly zone can also be enforced by air defense frigates/destroyers.

A ‘string of AEGIS’ or equivalent ships (T45, Horizon, LCF) could protect the coastal cities. While vulnerable to artillery/SSMs, it would be passive (no troops on Libyan soil or overflights) and scaleable.

HNLMS Tromp – an LCF type – is patrolling Libyan waters and can look ‘deep’ into Libya with its SMART-L (+450km) and monitor air movements. It only takes pressing a few buttons (and an ironclad UN mandate) to launch its SM-2s…

paul g
March 2, 2011 4:27 pm

domj no it was colnel g himself that said it, he quoted the rebels were supplied with drugs from AQ to give them courage to attack, and now they were coming down off the drugs they were back to “loving their leader”!
by the way what will we call the NAAFI if he goes?

x
x
March 2, 2011 4:46 pm

I was surprised to hear amongst all the guff that the UK would have to move Typhoon to Cyprus. I thought one of the reasons the UK (along with providing GCHQ a listening post and as a Watford gap services for long flight) had the SBAs was because the weather allowed lots of flying time. So all the Typhoons are at home or in the Falklands? Gosh…….

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 2, 2011 5:26 pm

x,

Cheeky.

paul g,

I’d say just keep at it, people still call things “the mother of all …” well after Mr. Hussein’s sell-by date. And there’s probably still some granddads around who know about “mafficking” (Mafeking) at a celebration. Just hope they hold on rather than “QnetiQ”ing the NAAFI….

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 2, 2011 5:29 pm

Marcase,

True, particularly since there’s at least one American CVN likely to stay on station for QRF if Gaddafi got pissed and tried to flood-attack a particular vessel. And they have radar/sonar (well, everybody but T45 has proper sonar :( to help coordinate the northern side of a blockade. (To the south I’d say its the French/EU and AEW/helos out of Chad.)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 2, 2011 5:34 pm

@ Someone’s been listening to Tony, although it will be chartered flights, not RAF…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12625084

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 2, 2011 5:34 pm

Oh, and here’s a nice piece on the technical/operational obstacles to a Libyan NFZ:
http://www.acus.org/new_atlanticist/libya-no-fly-zone-idea-wont-fly

That leaves aside that Russia would veto the notion in the UNSC: they want to hold on to client rulers in the ex-SSRs even when they lose legitimacy and, while no one would NFZ Russian borderlands, it sends a message to dissenters that global opinion would be on their side.

Jennings
Jennings
March 2, 2011 6:01 pm

The military no fly zone Cameron is looking to introduce is one covering the UK judging by what he is doing to the Royal Air Force.

x
x
March 2, 2011 6:16 pm

@ Jackstaff

I was just surprised.

DominicJ
March 2, 2011 6:53 pm

Marcase
You’d have to have the ships right in close to shore to do much good, and thats about the last place you ever send a capital ship.
Half a dozen anti tank missiles could possibly sink it, they’d certainly write it off.

x
x
March 2, 2011 7:03 pm

@ DomJ

No. Type 45 can see flights going into Manchester while sitting in the Channel. AEGIS has similar performance. A destroyer could sit 30miles off and still do the job.

DominicJ
March 2, 2011 7:19 pm

X
The missiles dont have that kinbd of range though, and spotting a 747 at 30,000ft and a Mirage at 200ft are very different matters.

B.Smitty
B.Smitty
March 2, 2011 7:25 pm

x,

A Type 45 might be able to see high altitude aircraft from 30 miles off shore, but how far away can it be and still see helos flying at 50m? 100m? (assuming a mast height of 50m – 31nm and 38nm respectively)

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 2, 2011 7:53 pm

While Libyan pilots seem keener to bomb wasteland than cities, it would be foolish to intervene.
If they do start seriously bombing civilians, then a UN approved no fly zone may then be a good thing.
For the RAF to get involved, we would need an invite to operate from Malta.
Looking at the latest proposed version of Typhoon in Flight Int Magazine, with its conformal tanks, uprated engines with thrust vectoring, would be ideal for this sort of op. Sad Cameron will give the funds needed to third world dictators rather than the RAF.
Shame Davis did not win the leadership contest. Doubt he would have trashed UK armed forces the way “call me Dave” has.

Jed
Jed
March 2, 2011 9:00 pm

Horizon Calculator: http://radarproblems.com/calculators/horizon.htm

I would reckon the T45 foremast SAMSON antenna is more like 150ft / 50m above waterline ? Just based on my recollection of Sea Wolf Leander’s 967/968 foremast being about 100ft.

So, 150ft mast, gives a radar horizon to 1000 ft high target of only 66 nautical miles

x
x
March 2, 2011 9:17 pm

@ DomJ

Considering the SeaViper is designed to tackle hypersonic sea-skimmers and that Sampson doesn’t suffer the same problems as old radars with ground scatter I should hope it would have no problem clocking a Mirage at 200ft. And it was you who was talking about using a ship not me…. ;)

@ B Smitty

See Jed’s post. And as I said it was DomJ who mentioned the ship. A good chunk of Libya lives within 30miles of the coast. I only chose 30miles as it was far enough of the horizon. If all we wanted to do was avoid DomJ’s ATGW we could come into 10miles.

As for missiles. Well surely the ROE would be eyes-on. And that would mean using aeroplanes not missiles.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 2, 2011 9:29 pm

RE “avoid DomJ’s ATGW we could come into 10miles”
– Spike ER 8 km range, so w/o the Iran/ Hizbollah boost to the arsenal (not likely), DJ & his ships should be safe from whatever was designed as AT, or extended from there

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 2, 2011 9:48 pm

Gareth @ 5:34 above,

Well played, Sarko. The Mistrals are not a great choice for a fighting LHD (Australia was smart enough to see that) but they are brilliant for what they do in practice, being a big frakking “C2-brand” platform (command/helo base for anti-piracy, NEOs, delivery of aid) they do very well. Lots of Cairo intellectuals see themselves as more a part of “le monde francophonie” than they do the anglophone world (which has alternately occupied them from London and jerked them about from DC — in their view, no one likes responsibility for their own sins) and having a favour the size of tens of thousands of expats in your pocket is handy with the masters of Suez.
Everyone else since then,

Nice discussion of the “pure” naval option. Does help that Libya’s a deeply coastal nation. And there seem to be a few others of those, I remember ….

x
x
March 2, 2011 9:49 pm

I would like to clarify I did mention early contributing a T45 to the no-fly effort. But that was because I didn’t see us contributing planes. And it was purely from air traffic control not interdiction with missiles.

(Knowing the RN’s luck these dasy you could bet the first thing they shot down would be a plane full of orphans…..)

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 2, 2011 11:29 pm

x,

Too true. But this is, broadly, the sort of mission where sending a T45 would make a considerable difference: brilliant AAW and radar, big platform, decent gun up front (better when they get the 155mm mounted), if you did a UOR end-run around the Treasury and put Phalanx (or maybe got sneaky and asked the Yanks to trial run a pair of SeaRAM, they have their own radar and are plug-and-play with the Phalanx spots “fitted for but not with’) and Harpoon aboard, you’d have a grand setup. Plus your helo’s a big fat Merlin and you have room for flag staff or emergency surgical team/civil affairs folk or SBS dteachment or whatever you want to bring to the party to look useful. Ideally it’s your ship-of-the-line carrier escort, but it could double as the heavy-mob end of “we need a big, versatile platform that can sit out on patrol.” Maybe more should’ve been built ….

Also, nice little comment in the USNI thread Jed linked to that freedom-of-the-seas sallies in the Gulf of Sidra might be useful, infuriate Gaddafi & Sons and make them send gear (planes, missile boats, etc.) out to come play safely offshore to defend wounded pride rather than keeping them in shielded by the very civilians they might end up used against. Plus it makes any potential blockade-runners wary of the risk.

Again, there’s a simple center of strategic gravity here. Gaddafi and his boys (his actual sons) need to die. Until they do, Tripoli doesn’t fall (except slowly and messily and with Libya falling apart around it, even the rebel-held areas.) Unless Tripoli falls, it’s not the Romanian Revolution of the Arab Spring, it’s just Bosnia on sand. So much as the international lawyers blanch, with some justice (you’re greating an entire new political model that some powerful folks won’t like) the operational requirement is for what W.H. Auden called “the necessary murder.”

x
x
March 2, 2011 11:45 pm

@ jackstaff

Um. It isn’t me saying that T45 wouldn’t be useful……

This popped up when I was looking for something else. A flight of fancy but………

http://editthis.info/themarshallwiki/Royal_Navy_Ship_Profiles#Type_45_Guided_Missile_Destroyer

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 3, 2011 1:04 am

x,

Oh, I didn’t mean to say you were (saying that, or whatever makes grammatical sense in this now messy sentence :P Mostly I was just talking about your reference to RN bad luck.

As for your link, Shazam. It’s now on my favourites list :) Yes please and I’m buying after she’s christened.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 3, 2011 8:16 am

Hi jackstaff @ close to midnight,

RE “decent gun up front (better when they get the 155mm mounted)”
– they won’t, the project was terminated by SDSR, the gun was already on the firing test bed

Good analogy “the Romanian Revolution of the Arab Spring” for the state-within-the-state security forces on a rampage. The dictator’s end in a cellar was not ‘pictoresque’ enough, though; somehow the image of Mussolini upside-down is playing back in my unconscious thinking (that poor guy got more than he deserved; Gaddafi has made much bigger installments towards his “balance” to account for).

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 3, 2011 9:31 am

Despite the strength of the Libyan airforce on paper, it seems to have played a relatively minor role in Gaddafi’s recent attacks on rebels.

Creating a NFZ would only be of limited practical benefit against the mad-dog’s forces, but would allow him (and all the usual Islamic Revolutionary propagandists around the world) to make further claims that the uprising is externally influenced, or an attack against Islam, or an act of Western Imperialism.

Getting involved with a NFZ could also lead us down a slippery slope of further involvement. Perhaps next, arming rebel groups, then favouring a particular group, finally deciding that we should have direct influence over what flavour of regime will follow Gaddafi’s.

No matter how bad things might be inside Libya, or how unpleasant the current regime may be, the present uprising is an internal affair. The 1986 raids were in response to Gaddafi’s sponsorship of international terrorism; unless he is shown to be threatening his neighbours or the wider world community, then we should -if at all possible- stay out of it.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 3, 2011 9:37 am

As a counterpoint to my own previous comment.

Typhoon purchases are being considered by a number of countries. Having Typhoon involved in a successful air operation over Libya -its first operational outing- could be a considerable benefit to the UK’s marketing position.

RichardW
RichardW
March 3, 2011 10:37 am

There is a maxim that if you ask a military person for advice you’ll inevitably get offered a military solution – the inference being that military will offer military even if it’s not the best solution.

If you can evacuate people in chartered 747s with hired crews, and the FCO pays for it rather than the MoD, why would you want to use up the hours on your military planes to do it?

I’m supportive of a no fly zone if it was practical and effective, and equally a T45 if one was available. I think there is a negative reaction rooted in a perception that a no fly zone is how Iraqi got started, so, the logic goes, a few sorties over Libya will somehow commit us to years of ground warfare. It doesn’t have to mean that if you don’t want it to.

a
a
March 3, 2011 12:17 pm

I can’t help thinking that “attention all Libyan air force pilots: bring your Su-22 to Malta and trade it in for $5m in unmarked bills, a new identity, and free citizenship of the NATO nation of your choice” would be a rather good message to be putting out on guard channels via Compass Call. It might also be a lot cheaper than waging war on Libya. And, worst case, we don’t kill anyone.

McZ
McZ
March 3, 2011 12:22 pm

“Let’s just call a spade a spade: A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses.”
— Robert Gates —

Hits the nail on the head…

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 3, 2011 12:44 pm

Interesting developments: New rebel council calls for NFZ, arms embargo, precision air strikes on Tripoli (!) – no troops on the ground, they don’t want to be Iraq 2.

3 Dutch Marines being held by Gaddafi forces; were helping with the Dutch NEO.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 3, 2011 2:31 pm

RE ““Let’s just call a spade a spade: A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses.”
– Robert Gates –”

There are three different things here
– Eastern Libya, prevent genocide over the liberated area, no air defences to take out
– the South, the mercenaries get off-boarded here, and they are the part of the mix that has kept this going for so long; had there been a blanket order by Gaddafi for the Army to start firing, they would probably had said “no” – and he knows that would have been the end of it; far inland,though, v difficult for CSAR (the French COULD help for that side of the Libya borders, but does not sound like they are eager)
– the heart land; that would be an attack on a country that “theoretically is, still, sovereign”

Did not mean to sound like a lawyer (am not), but I am for 1 & 2, but not for 3 (onto you, Robert Gates, David Cameron et al)

a
a
March 3, 2011 3:29 pm

ACC: I think you need to consider also “what is the worst case here?” The worst case if you impose a BARCAP over eastern Libya is that they shoot down a civilian aircraft or a friendly military aircraft (maybe one evacuating civilians). Airliner lifting 250 Chinese engineers out of Benghazi, not squawking the right transponder code, some Hornet pilot sees it and misidentifies it. USS Vincennes all over again. Friendly fire losses will happen; they always do.
The same or worse could happen if you tried to impose an air blockade over the south of the country.
If we try OCA against the Libyan air force, the risks go up further, because then we will have bombs and missiles wandering off course and hitting civi targets.
The great thing about not imposing a NFZ is that, even if it goes wrong, we still won’t have killed anyone.

B.Smitty
B.Smitty
March 3, 2011 4:32 pm

a,

I wouldn’t be as worried about shooting down an airliner if VID rules are in place. I’d be more worried about misidentifying a helo carrying SPECOPS on a rescue mission, especially with so many foreign militaries in the mix (e.g. Op Provide Comfort shoot down of two US Army Blackhawks by F-15s).

a
a
March 3, 2011 4:54 pm

Good example, B. Yes, it’s risky enough with everyone trying to do their own extractions; add a lot of F-18s to the mix and it will get far riskier.
ICG has a list of possible actions here:
http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2011/immediate-international-steps-needed-to-stop-atrocities-in-libya.aspx

Crisis Group recommends the following urgent steps:

*
Imposing targeted sanctions against Muammar Qaddafi and family members as well as others involved in the repression, including an immediate assets freeze;
*
Offering safe haven to Libyan aircraft pilots and other security personnel who refuse to carry out illegal regime orders to attack civilians;
*
Cancelling all ongoing contracts and cooperation for the supply of military equipment and training to Libyan security forces;
*
Imposing an international embargo to prevent the sale and delivery of any military equipment or support to Libyan security forces while refraining from any commercial sanctions that could harm civilians;
*
In light of the intensity of the violence and its likely regional effects, the United Nations Security Council should:
o
strongly condemn Libya’s resort to state violence against civilians and call on the Libyan government and security forces to immediately halt all such attacks and restore access for humanitarian flights to Libyan air space;
o
call on member states to take the above-mentioned actions;
o
establish an international commission of inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity in Libya since 1 February 2011, tasking it to investigate the conduct of the Libyan government and all its varied security forces, as well as allegations concerning the involvement of foreign mercenaries. The body should provide recommendations on steps to be taken by national and international authorities to ensure accountability for any crime;
o
plan the establishment of a no-fly zone under Chapter VII if aircraft attacks against civilians continue.

Jed
Jed
March 3, 2011 5:28 pm

ARES blog reporting that Pro-Ghadaffi forces captured the Lynx of HNLMS Tromp on sunday, while it was attempting to pick up two NL Consular staff in Sirte. Civvies have been transfered else where, Lynx and crew still being held !

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog:27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post:9f172ca5-3b6b-4a34-8d99-9e82eb3b0745

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 3, 2011 5:32 pm

Hi a,

A good list, especially the last entry (fails to examine the pre-requisites for success with intended impact, but we have covered it, many other forums have touched on those same aspects).

The one thing that “the list” fails to recognise is that there is no shortage of arms in Libya (ref: embargo), just that they are mainly held by one side in the conflict

x
x
March 3, 2011 5:43 pm

@ Gareth J

Well that’s game over then. The Cloggies have got Col Daffy Duck surrounded…. :)

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 3, 2011 11:21 pm

BB @ 9:31,

Yes to your lead comments. I have to hope the increasing rhetoric on that front in Washington (where it actually matters, not Westminster because it can’t help, and Italy who has the resources but Berlusconi’s clearly afraid people poking into his cosiness with Gaddafi, plus the sex scandal, might actually finish him this time) is 1) to get out in front of neo-con critics and 2) if it leads to anything, is strategic misdirection for arming the rebels quietly or striking suddenly to kill Gaddafi & Sons, rather than running a long, costly, aggressive, mission-creep NFZ. Or maybe it is actually whatever-dimensional chess to keep the new Egyptian junta from scoring cheap points at home by invading on their refugees’ behalf. The last ten years are not a cheerful prospectus for the US and its partners avoiding “long, costly, agressive, and mission-creep” though.

a,

Loved your psyop suggestion. That plus baiting the Gaddafists (can we say that instead of “pro-Gaddafi forces”? More graceful) to come out and play in/over the Gulf of Sirte. Agreed that NFZs can get messy.

x and Gareth,

Bad luck, mostly, it seems. And part of the eternal dance in crisis moments between the political clout and operational authority of diplomatic and military services. If this was a discreet effort to nip in and taxi out a senior consular official who’d got lost or caught up in the chaos, seems more like Sod’s Law at work.

Stephen
Stephen
March 5, 2011 11:03 am

The Libyan situation is not good, but I cannot understand Mr Cameron standing up saying about a No fly zone and we can help.
Did someone not remind him of the Commitment in Afganastan/ Iraq and the fact that we have just lost Nimrods,Harriers and Aircraft carrier. Sorry we dont have the kit or the servicemen anymore.

And we dont have the aircraft to use anyone elses aircraft carriers.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 10, 2011 12:06 pm

Back to the there are no-fly zones and there are no fly-zones:

Liam Fox on BBC News less than 3 hours ago “Dr Fox said that, rather than “taking out” air defences in a pre-emptive strike, Nato leaders could say that, if an enemy locked its air defence radar on Nato planes, they could “regard that as a hostile action and take subsequent action”.”

There is a huge, empty gap in the middle (OK, Sirte sits within it and surely has AD) along the coast of the country.

Doing the eastern half of the country first, to protect civilians, would be easy.

Begs the question why the folks West and East of Tripoli don’t get protection – difficult to tell combatants and civilians apart is part of the (immediate) answer. That’s where the civil war is raging, France has already recognised Benghazi folks as the legitimate gvmnt (for the whole country, of course, rather than declaring a partitioning)

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 10, 2011 12:36 pm

ACC
Its still a decalration of War, replace Libya/Tripoli with Russia/Moscow and read just how daft it sounds.

We’re going to position bombers over Moscow, turning on your radars will be deemed an act of war….

Its also bloody dangerous, how long does it take a SAM site to open fire? Pilots get bored and goof off too…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 10, 2011 12:46 pm

Hi DJ,

You turned the context/ steps that I was advocating on its head in “Its still a decalration of War, replace Libya/Tripoli with Russia/Moscow and read just how daft it sounds.

We’re going to position bombers over Moscow, turning on your radars will be deemed an act of war….”

Your last statement is an understatement; with modern SAMs evading them is so difficult that you don’t wait until “they” open fire.

Fox statement = true, but only for the geography where Ghaddafist presence is sparse (i.e. terror bombings are truly that, rather than part of the tactical battles between civil war combatants)

Gates statement = true, if you go for the whole country straight away

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 10, 2011 2:33 pm

ACC
Sorry I though you were speaking in support of 13th Centurey Pox.
Gaddfists might be convinced to reign in long range strikes, but they may still be valid militarily.
If he bombs the capital of Benghazistan in attempt to kill whoever is in charge today, is that any different than our attempts to bomb Taliban/Sadam leaders miles from “the front”?
Or Israels wiping out of Hamas command every couple of years?

It looks like Russias arms shipments have turned the tide, the rebels are being ground down with artilery. Its all a bit academic now, either we destroy Libyas heavy gear or hand off ATGM to the rebels.
Neither is exactly low key…

Presumably it was all over as soon as France backed the rebels.