One of Our Principles is Missing

Reported widely today is the ongoing discussions on possible military action in Libya. A No fly zone seems the easiest option and one which which is gathering support. Some of the loudest calls for action are coming from an alliance of left wing interventionists who have obviously forgot the lessons of Iraq and the Balkans and indeed their opposition to them. Indeed the parallels between Libya and Iraq are striking, both are nations with a despotic dictator and both have had a brush with defeat. Yet as Sadam, post Desert Storm, was widely predicted to go down ‘in weeks’ it would seem Gaddafi is also widely predicted to go soon but has decided not to grant everyones wishes, ever indication is that he is going to hang on as long as possible.

The Libyan opposition movement in the east of the country would seem on the face of it to be disorganised, lacking in training and bereft of heavy weapons and aircraft.

Who knows what will happen, events might surprise us and Gaddafi could go soon or he could just decide a protracted civil war is his bet bet, against the lightly armed opposition, he might even be able to prevail. With news coming out of Libya that government forces have retaken Ras Lanuf the military momentum is clearly with Gaddafi.

The NATO meeting today was preceded by  Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying;

“Any operation we undertake needs to respect three key principles: firstly there has to be demonstrable need for NATO action, secondly there has to be a clear legal basis, and thirdly there has to be firm regional support,” he said, as NATO defence ministers met to discuss options to respond to the turmoil in Libya, including a possible no-fly zone”

I suspect NATO will continue planning for a no fly zone, increase stand off air and maritime capabilities but do nothing without a UN resolution.

Speaking on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme this morning, Dr Fox explained the principles under which a no-fly zone over Libya could be implemented:

“We’ve set out three principles that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made very clear, the first is that there would have to be a demonstrable need for a no-fly zone, the second would be that there was a strong legal basis for it, and third, that there is broad international regional support.

“I think it’s very easy to see the difficulties that there would be were we not to have our countries involved in any such operation. But I think it’s also fair to say that today’s meeting of NATO Defence Ministers is to look at all the options; it’s not there to take decisions on launching any specific operations.”

So that sounds like talks about talks about what we might possibly or possibly not do, maybe some time in the future.

I am with Lord Dannatt on this one, in the Telegraph today he said

I think just talking about a no-fly zone – Robert Gates in the United States said that was rather loose talk. I think it is fairly loose talk. We need to be quite clear what our national interest is as far as Libya is concerned.

Previous no fly zones have not been terribly effective, mostly just prolonging conflicts but there is one principle that Dr Fox and other’s seem to have forgotten in the rush to ‘get their gun on’ and it is this

What is the UK’s interest here

Have we really learned nothing from the vanity and hubris of Blair, putting service personnel in harms way, the same personnel the government is making redundant etc, so politicians can puff out their chests and bask in a bit of uniform love?

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Tubby
Tubby
March 10, 2011 7:48 pm

I think our national interests are as follows:

1) Our oil prices need to drop to stop a double dip recession
2) We need to reduce the number of North African refugees entering Europe as a good percentage will end up in the UK
3) We need to retain what little influence we have left after blundering in with public commendation of Gaddafi. Now we need Gaddafi to go, and I reckon a Gaddafi win could bring down the Coalition. Not that I am especially pro-Coalition, but I am anti looking like idiots, and that is what we will end up looking like if we do nothing.

As to how best deal with it I do have one idea.

Drop the no-fly zone, it is a sticking plaster designed to appease our collective guilt.

Instead my plan would be as follows.

Step 1 – set up naval blockade to stop weapons getting into Western Libya

Step 2 – funnel all of the frozen Libyan assets to the rebel’s in Benghazi, and use some of this money to buy ammo, food, water and medicines and ship to them. Also share all our real time intelligence with them, hopefully this will allow them to counter Gaddafi’s forces. See if we can shore up Eastern Libyan for 6 – 9 months.

Step 3 – set up in Egypt or some other nearby country a Free Libyan Legion, provide free flights for volunteers from Europe to join, and ship young men from Libya who want training to the legion, possible offer a very large (by Libyan standards) lump sum and turn a blind eye to the nationality of who takes up the offer. Train the Legion as a light mechanised infantry battalion, using Russian military surplus IFV and APC’s, plus a good number of support vehicles and personnel (such as recovery vehicles, fuel tankers, supply tracks and light patrol vehicles), once trained up, ship to Benghazi, with a cadre of Egyptian advisers and allow them to fight their way to Tripoli. This assumes that my limited understanding is correct, that fighting will mostly be urban, and that IVF and APC’s, with the infantry well supplied with anti-tank missiles and MANPAD’s is the best way to crack Tripoli, and the key will be a professional force with the logistics train to fight their way from Benghazi to Tripoli.

Sure it is expensive, but I better it is cheaper in the long run than a no-fly zone followed by a ground campaign when it becomes clear that the Rebels could not organise a tea party in a tetley’s factory (I avoided using the phrase a p!ss up in a brewery as I did not want to cause any offence :-) )

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 10, 2011 8:08 pm

Tubby,

Excellent comment. Should be a sort of reply post unto itself. Your last point is more or less what happened with the West in Croatia and Slovenia and, to a lesser and messier degree, in Bosnia-Herzcegovina itself. Beyond recruiting and training Libyans I do wonder sometimes where, to borrow the American name for them, the Abraham Lincoln Brigades are in these cases (there were *harrumph* more working-class Brits fighting for the Spanish Republic than Americans, but both contributed. And that’s me as a lefty, wondering when the comment-but-don’t-act usual left-suspects and the frothing neo-con foreign policy fundamentalists will both enlist in the cause now there are actual bullets flying ….) But it seems to me that these are answers that involve a prolonged conflict, which means more dirty deals and maneuvering within the resistance, more time to build up grudges, more martyrs on both sides, etc. That leaves the international community, whatever it is anymore, with an unpleasant reality. Trying Gaddafi and his senior sons (the top three, no one takes Hannibal seriously — no, seriously, Hannibal Gaddafi. Truth is always stranger than fiction) in the ICC has a nice ring, and getting them to step down to some Venezuelan hacienda would do in practice. But neither is on the cards. This is what police in most English-speaking countries would call an “active shooter” situation, where the crime is in progress and in no danger of stopping because your perpetrator says “it’s a fair cop.” What no one in power wants done, because of its legal and policy implications, and the only thing that would speed this process up to prevent more blood and grudges (concentrating minds on Libyan reconstruction) and that would ultimately leave Libyans in control of their destiny is this:

– Go in
– Kill Gaddafi and his senior sons: I don’t mean with drones, they have ADA and can hide, I don’t mean Day-of-the-Jackal style he’s dodged that for 40 years, I mean a couple of reinforced brigades of door-kickers brought in to their bunkers and some full-jacketed rounds in the center of mass.
– Then GET OUT on your landing craft/helos/whatever and leave Libyans to settle their own affairs. Yes, in twenty-odd years when you have a new generation that don’t remember the Revoluation of 2011 some of them may buy the lie that Gaddafi was a martyr to imperialism. There are people in Ireland and the UK trying to whitewash McGuinness’ years with the Provos, and people in the American Deep South trying to get Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name (founder of the Ku Klux Klan and Confederate cavalryman) on a license plate. The point is that swift action now gives a generation to build institutions and narratives that can combat that kind of nonsense. So, as the US Defence Secretary Gates put it (with a condescending Victorian reference …) no school-building by soldiers, no tea-sipping. Do something professional militaries are equipped to do. Get in, kill a target, go home. Beyond that does more harm than good. Feel-good action that’s not that decisive is even more destructive than that. (With the exception of some of what Tubby describes, if you’re willing to accept the long-war solution. And what Tubby’s offered up as a hell of a lot more useful than most of what’s publicly been kicked around in Brussels.) Now if someone can shut that school-tie t**t Cameron up before he disgraces Britain’s foreign-policy nous even further ….

Tubby,

Love both the references at the end. And based on BBC, CBC, and CNN (footage from all three) that seems about right.

Mark
Mark
March 10, 2011 8:21 pm

I think the operation we undertook in Afghanistan prior to our movement to helmand maybe an appropriate model for Libyan involvement however the great reluctance of the rebels for any foreign ground troops in Libya may mean we are tied to an operation more like that taken with Iraq between the 2 wars but with the intensity when we set up the Kurdish safe heaven, perhaps in the east around Benghazi to start with.

Wstr
Wstr
March 10, 2011 8:52 pm

You couldn’t make this up even if you were writing a comedy!

10 Mar 20:43
Two spy planes due to have been scrapped at the end of March are now to be kept in service for at least another three months, the BBC has learnt.
The Ministry of Defence has declined to comment on whether the decision is related to discussions on setting up a no-fly zone over Libya.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12707222

Tubby
Tubby
March 10, 2011 8:56 pm

@ Jackstaff,

I did read a potted summary on ARRSE of a longer blog post by some US staff officers which seemed to suggest what you are advocating. Basically pull together every helicopter, carrier and special forces & commando forces you can scrape together. Use the helicopters to insert your forces, slot Gaddafi and then fight your way to the port to be extracted. Not sure what the body count would be on either side, but I expect it is political unacceptable which is why I did not suggest, not to mention that I think we could just about get the Rebel’s to accept raising their own intervention forces, if we slot Gaddafi we likely cause the same resentment.

Mark
Mark
March 10, 2011 9:00 pm

Wstr

It seems the powers that be have just realize that strategic manned ISTAR assets gives them the information they need to make decisions weres that big light bulb when you need one.

Also there it was reported yesterday that 3 awacs and a couple of tankers have been deployed to cyprus for air monitoring. With these assets deployed to libya I wonder what assets are covering the UK SAR region as they appear to be the same ones being deployed.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 10, 2011 10:07 pm

Tubby,

What a good idea: Basically pull together every helicopter, carrier and special forces & commando forces you can scrape together. Use the helicopters to insert your forces, slot Gaddafi and then fight your way to the port to be extracted
… take “it” from the inside,

After that, the whole country will rejoice (even those who were with him!)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 10, 2011 10:26 pm

Now, going back to our contributions/ discussion before the Libya situation got “hot”
– everyone in power or responsibility has mentioned Article 7 of the UN Charter

Not one! of the following: Sec of State Clinton and Rasmussen of NATO has mentioned the RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT, only the necessity to get a “lawful” cover, for any action to be taken under Article 7.

Is it me being daft, or are the UNSC members (NATO not being one, but , heyy, 2 or 3 of the members being there… if you count the USA in, naturally acting in the interest of…), but read on, that was not the gist

So, that is not a barb… I like the line
1. Slovenia _Bosnia_Kosovo
– 4 years, you just sitting on your hands
– it was in your back yard
– still, we had to come in and sort it out

2. Since, we have been taking the action,deemed necessary (at the time) and mainly, you (Europe), have just been sniping from the “high ground”

3. BTW, we are back to your back yard
– how do you want to call it this time, having all your (not necessarily coordinated) principles?
– call us, when you know
– otherwise, we will hear it anyway (muddled) in the UNSC

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
March 10, 2011 10:46 pm

Funnily enough Libya came up in conversation with my mother at the weekend (don’t laugh!). Being naturalised Polish, she has a very european view on things – namely “why do we always get involved in these wars, it’ll only encourage immigrants and we should only look after our own borders”.

It does seem to be a curiously British thing to want to get invlolved in thankless foreign wars on “humanitarian” grounds. Especially since the people crying out for a no-fly zone are the very bleeding heart liberals (not to be confused with Liberals), who want a Gendarmerie style armed forces and the saved money spent on the NHS and the Welfare State. Ironic really.

As for what we “should” do. I prefer Jackstaff’s idea to Tubby’s. With longer mission’s there is too much scope for creep (after all, would we need air-cover for the Free Libyan Legion’s training area’s?)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 10, 2011 11:27 pm

Hi DD,

Yes,
It does seem to be a curiously British thing to want to get invlolved in thankless foreign wars on “humanitarian” grounds. Especially since the people crying out for a no-fly zone are the very bleeding heart liberals (not to be confused with Liberals), who want a Gendarmerie style armed forces and the saved money spent on the NHS and the Welfare State. Ironic really.

But let’s go and see abt Libya , and the interest in our near-shore

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 11, 2011 12:14 am

Wstr twice over,

That’s the sound of Geddes Axe 2.0 blunting on reality. Or, in the words of one Tezza Pratchett, the midden hitting the windmill.

Jed
Jed
March 11, 2011 2:34 am

DD – while you were talking to your Mum, I was skyping my Dad, who did a tour in Libya before moving onto two spend the best part of 3 years in Korea….. (yes, he is that old).

Dad was based near Benghazi, says he quite liked the Libyan people, but also stated more or less :

Has any party in Libya asked for our help ? No, then lets keep our bloody noses out of a Libyan civil war !

I have to agree. If rebels ask for weapons, we just need to secure Benghazi docks while they are being unloaded, otherwise we really, really dont need to interfere.

ss
ss
March 11, 2011 3:17 am

My question would be why did we not intervene against China when after Tiananmen Square or against North Korea or even Zimbabwe if we really cared how dictatorships dealt with their subjects. Our interest are the supply of oil to fuel our economies. The threats made against Gaddafi aren’t going to be helpful to us if he prevails in this internal dispute. As the politicians have stuffed up with their rhetoric they may have to be prepared to eat humble pie after the revolution is crushed. If they cannot then they may indeed have to up the ante and get more involved.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 11, 2011 3:58 am

I agree with those who point out that the rebels in Libya have specifically stated that they don’t want foreign troops – they just want Gaddafi’s planes off their backs.

Perhaps we don’t realise the extent to which the West in general (and, after the USA, the UK in particular) is regarded with deep distrust in the Arab world. The long-term support for Israel, and more recently the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, mean that they will always believe the anti-west propaganda.

They don’t want us getting involved in the ground fighting: neither our special forces, nor European volunteers to fight for them.

I think that if we are going to take military action, the best action we could take would be a surgical strike to take out Gaddafi’s air force on the ground. Then leave the rebels to sort the rest out themselves; we can supply them with arms if they ask for them.

Michael (ex-DIS)
Michael (ex-DIS)
March 11, 2011 7:08 am

In Libya, two groups of equally unpleasant Arabs are fighting for power. We should stand back and let them sort it out.

Tubby
Tubby
March 11, 2011 8:39 am

I think we can only to agree to let two groups of equally unpleasant people fight for power when it does not affect us economically. Once it affects us economically then it is in our interest for it to be over as quickly as possible and for things return to status quo. Sadly our politicians backed the wrong side, and now are going to have to either back the Rebels with more than words or look like idiots, with the consequences being an early general election followed by Labour government.

Personally I do not give a damn about the actual humanitarian side of it, all my empathy is tied up with my family, friends and colleagues, and what happens if oil hits $200 a barrel as some economists are predicting. Unfortunately too many people do care about the humanitarian side which is why our politicians have to spin the reasons for all the UK’s recent interventions, (Iraq was about oil and keeping the US from questioning the point of NATO, the second was just about keeping US sweet and if we go into Libya it will be about our oil and economics), which then gives a rather distorted position of our actions – after all if we really cared about humanitarian issues we would have intervened in the Second Congo War before an estimated 5 million people died from the fighting and the impact of the war.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 8:56 am

Hi Tubby,

Yes, oil was $20 when that idiot Bush decided to go into Iraq (his father was much wiser). Now you are talking $200…

On that topic, my Stratfor news alert included this (about the shots fired in Saudi Arabia: “There is a strong potential for clashes to break out March 11 between Saudi security forces and protesters, particularly in the vital Eastern Province. Saudi authorities have taken tough security measures in the Shiite areas of the country by deploying about 15,000 national guardsmen to thwart the planned demonstrations by attempting to impose a curfew in critical areas. Energy speculators are already reacting to the heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf region, but unrest in cities like Qatif cuts directly to the source of the threat that is fueling market speculation: The major oil transit pipelines that supply the major oil port of Ras Tanura — the world’s largest, with a capacity of 5 million barrels per day — go directly through Qatif.”

Exactly the same place which was cut off on 28 November 1979 (when the eyes of the world were on the Mecca uprising, so no one noticed) and a day later there were 20 dead there, all Shias, of course, who had been calling for a revolution. So no fundamentalist wahhabis as in Mecca; those also overstepped the line, but with a different rhetoric, and met their end).

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 11, 2011 9:11 am

I heard a rather interesting comment on the TV this morning, “If Libya’s major export was broccolli, would there be this much coverage and involvement?”

There’s a civil insurrection kicking off in Ivory Coast, anyone want to impose a No Fly Zone there? Should NATO forces debate going in support of one particular side? Or because its a poverty ridden country on the West coast of Arica no-one gives a fat rat’s ass?

Tubby, you said: “set up naval blockade to stop weapons getting into Western Libya” then you said: “funnel all of the frozen Libyan assets to the rebel’s in Benghazi, and use some of this money to buy ammo, food, water and medicines and ship to them.” When you say stop weapons getting into Libya, do you mean just to pro-Ghaddafi forces? Or do you mean we should be the only one’s shipping weapons and ammo in country. A contradiction? I’m sure there’s an article in the UN charter that maintains that arms shouldn’t be supplied in situations like this.

Michael (ex-DIS)
Michael (ex-DIS)
March 11, 2011 9:27 am

Since 1990 we have spent billions of pounds and lost hundreds of military lives in military interventions of one sort or another. I find it hard to think of a single advantage to this country.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
March 11, 2011 10:02 am

“What is the UK’s interest here”

Having a near-abroad that whose various peoples have legitimate government, in that they percieve it to be both accountable and representative, as a harmonious civil society will be of great benefit to Britain’s own prosperity.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 11, 2011 10:13 am

They have a democratically elected, representative and legitimate government in Gaza. However, this creates a great deal of anxiety for US foreign policy.

Also, what if the harmonious Libyan civil society wants nothing to do with the UK and US? The UK and US would rather have a dictator they can deal with than a democracy they can’t, especially when oil is involved. That unfortunately is the crux of the matter, and that’s where UK and US interests lie.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 10:32 am

Jedi,

You hit the nail on the head: “Having a near-abroad that whose various peoples have…”
– I think I’ve used that term but now it is “official”
– it covers other places, not just those that are separated from “us” by the Med: Turkey, Ukraine (who cares about the tin-pot dictator between Russia and Poland, though), even the Caucasus states (the Americans have spoilt the adjective Caucasian)
– Russia is far from democratic, but at least the gvmnt in power acts rationally on the world scene (I wonder when the BBC reporters will actually refresh from Wiki what they learned at school re: who they call the world’s biggest oil producer?)

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
March 11, 2011 10:58 am

@Jed-02:34am

heh, interesting about your dad, mine was with the RA in the 8th Army, From Tobruk all the way to Monte Cassino.

I agree that this is a war we can “do without”. I even called into the Jeremy Vine show to say that with the defence cuts in progress we no longer have (or soon will no longer have) the capability to prosecute a “no-fly-zone” over Libya.

Unfortunately joint statements from the PM and the French President, plus Franc’s recognition of the rebels, plus recent (this morning) press releases from the Gubbmint about needing to “do something” seem to be pushing is this unwanted direction.

So, who in the General Staff will have the balls to stand up and say that we *cannot* do what the bleeding heart liberals want, as we don’t have the wherewithall?!

Jon
Jon
March 11, 2011 11:11 am

What would the political implications be of western government actively taking part in toppling a Middle Eastern dictator? I would imagine that Saudi Arabia, and others would go ape. As retribution they would at least cancel defence contracts with the west and be much less co-operative, as well as subduing their own citizens even more. There is also the danger of them threatening Isreal as a response. Britain and the USA then says they will support Isreal and if it comes to it, help defend it from any attack. Things could get tense very quickly.

Mike2
Mike2
March 11, 2011 12:07 pm

Michael-(Ex DIS)
I agree entirely with both of your posts.
Not so long ago we appeased Ghadaffi and returned the Lockerbie bomber.
We then had Blair on a mission to Libya hugging and kissing this dictator.
This all seems shades of Saddam whom during the Iran,Iraq wars the west was backing and supplying with arms until he upset us by threatening our oil supplies.
Ghadaffi has been in power in Libya for decades and has been both vilified and courted by the west in equal amounts.
These so called rebels only as recently as last week were stating categoricaly that they had no wish to see any outside interference in their revolt.
That of course is when they were gaining ground,now the government troops are pushing them back they are crying out for western military help.
What did they expect to happen when they decided to attack the ruling party,unlike Tunisia and Egypt where the uprising was mainly carried out by mass unarmed members of the public,they decided to take outright military action. Big mistake and now they want their nuts pulling out of the fire.
Leave them alone to sort it out,we will get no thanks whatsoever from them or from other Arab countries.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 11, 2011 12:29 pm

It’s a civil war, we shouldn’t get involved.

We don’t even know what we would get in Libya if we did; it could end up as a new Turkey, it could end up as the new Iran, or the country could descend into 20 years of inter-faction fighting with Libyan civilians taking the brunt of countless acts of terrorism – car bombs, shootings etc.

Whatever the outcome for Libya, once we get involved we’ll think we have the right to influence who takes power after Gaddafi -which has been at the origin of our problems with many other countries.
And we will be percieved by many arabs and muslims -rightly or wrongly- as being responsible for every little problem that the next regime has.

Also, if the government is concerned about any intervention being legal, surely regime change is not a legitimate aim. I thought that was why we made such an effort to convince people about weapons of mass destruction before changing the regime in Iraq.

Some people see a NFZ as a relatively minor level of intervention; but if that doesn’t work and the rebels suffer defeats, there will be an overwhelming pressure to increase our involvement.
Countries like the US or UK are hardly likely to put the effort into enforcing a NFZ, then just shrug our shoulders, pack up and go home if we see it fail. A NFZ could be the top of a very slippery slope.

As for protecting civilians; a NFZ does not stop artillery, tanks and small arms – which seem to have been responsible for more civilian casualties than the Libyan airforce anyway. Notwithstanding the defecting and ejecting pilots, there does not seem to be a great deal of firm evidence that their airforce have been involved in deliberate strikes against civilians; there seems to be more evidence concerning attacks on military bases, arms dumps, and against armed rebels though.

IXION
IXION
March 11, 2011 12:38 pm

There is a long history in ‘revolutions’ and civil wars of the smaller less popular forces which is disciplined and has the heavy equipment winning over much larger untrained ill equiped units.

Col Gadaffi will win this war unless we stop him.

Whether we should stop him etc is another matter. But without real intervention training equipment etc, he will win.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 11, 2011 12:44 pm

Can anyone explain why sustaining a NFZ is favoured by the UK and others, rather than just hitting the couple of key airfields in the west during an evening or two?

They’d be air defence hot-spots, but surely that wouldn’t be beyond NATO’s capability.

Andy
Andy
March 11, 2011 12:46 pm

‘Whether we should stop him etc is another matter. But without real intervention training equipment etc, he will win.’

Indeed IXION, and there are going to be some very silly looking governments at the end of all of this.

I actually wish our governments would come out in the open and say why it is in British interests, when other humanitarian conflicts are not. Infact, wasn’t the status quo before this trouble in our interest? We got Gaddaffi back ‘on side’ and we had our companies making money there and the oil was flowing.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
March 11, 2011 12:52 pm

@ Brian

I think and NFZ is preferred because it seems a more passive action (more a threat of action), to the people proposing it (they being ignorant of what is actually required).

Actively destroying the Libyan AF, however is seen as a more warlike action that, importantly, could draw criticism from other Arab countries (i.e. How dare the West intervene in this way?)

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
March 11, 2011 1:00 pm

I wonder what the Libyan Navy is doing in all this? Benghazi had a Navy installation, and elements of the Navy there declared for the rebels. What vessels are available to the rebels, I wonder, and could they be used as SAM overwatch on the coastal region – or even for offensive action in shelling Tripoli (Shades of Vincent Tsao’s “Junta” boardgame there!). Of course, loyal elements of the Navy in Tripoli could do the same to Benghazi I s’pose.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 1:04 pm

In the Guardian today, Ademiral Sir Trvor Soar: “The RFTG ( of 6 ships) is currently scheduled to leave the UK at the end of April.

“If some or all of these platforms were required for operations off Libya, then they could quickly be prepared for that.”
– what he broadly, without being specific about which 6 ships, explains about the planning and preparations sounds like TD’s LOG to me

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 1:22 pm

Hi DD,

They had 4 very powerful ships for the tonnage (the rest do not count);
WADI M’RAGH CLASS PATROL COMBATANTS

Hull No. Name
Builder

Launched Commissioned De-Commissioned Comments
134 Laksamana Hang Nadim
ex Kalid ibn al Walid, F216 Fincantieri, Muggiano 5-Jul-1983 28-Jul-1997
135 Laksamana Tun Abdul Gamil
ex Saad ibn abi Wakkad, F218 Fincantieri, Muggiano 30-Dec-1983 28-Jul-1997
136 Laksamana Muhammad Amin
ex Abdullah ibn abi Serh, F214 Fincantieri, Muggiano 5-Jul-1983 Jul-1999
137 Laksamana Tun Pusman
ex Salah Aldin Ayoobi, F220 Fincantieri, Muggiano 30-Mar-1984 Jul-1999
but the Italian sources (they were built in Italy) state that during the ’90s they became inoperable (did I get my Nixonese right with that term?)because of inadequate maintenance

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
March 11, 2011 1:32 pm

Rather than NATO, could the Arab nations put together something to solve the situation in libya. Egypt’s mitiary is intact and stable and most importantly very large and well equipped. A single armoured brigade (M1A2) and air cover (F-16C) would probably be more than enough to get the job done, acting in support of the forces opposed to the Regime. Why does the west have to get involved again?

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 11, 2011 1:33 pm

I believe the NFZ is utterly pointless, we could wipe the Libyan airforce off the map and churn up their runways, but it won’t stop Ghadaffi’s tanks rolling towards Benghazi.

Then what do we do? Politically, we’ve already nailed our colours to the mast. Ghadaffi was brought back into the world for the war on terror, Al Qaeda never got a foothold in Libya, just like it didn’t in Iraq when Saddam Hussain was alive. I wonder how things will change now the borders are a more porous?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 1:50 pm

Hi LJ,

Very true “A single armoured brigade would probably be more than enough to get the job done”, but
-the last arab on arab invation was in 1920’s, al Saud taking the much more structured kingdom on the Red Sea (the Hashemites were then found something else to do, like Iraq and Jordania, that were not considered very important).
– btw, Saddams story was always that Kuwait was a province stolen from Iraq (guess by whom?)

It just does not sit with the culture and the values, even when Egypt under Nasser was trying to annex Yemen, it was all about pan-arabic ideology (supposedly), and supporting one side (even if made up) within an existing political entity

… not to mention that the Egyptian top brass might have something else on their mind, just for now?

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 11, 2011 1:54 pm

Tubby
I’m afraid the situation is far more complex than you believe.
Gadaffi is being armed by Russia, via Belarus.
Unless you intend to board/shoot down russian craft, the arms will get through.

Step 2 is what we in the business call “stealing”.
The UK is a world financial centre precisely because we dont have a history of stealing one groups deposits and givng them to a group we deem more willing.

Option three has some merit, I’d go further and back them up with CAS.
The problem is, the Benghazis are no more “The People Choice” than Ghadafi.
When they get to Tripoli, they’ll find a strongman and spend the next 30 years oppressing Ghadafi’s tribe.

Jackstaff
Kill Ghadafi and his sons, and someone else steps up.
Al-Queda wont stop just because you kill Osama…

Jedi
“Having a near-abroad that whose various peoples have legitimate government, in that they percieve it to be both accountable and representative, as a harmonious civil society will be of great benefit to Britain’s own prosperity.”

And us bombing a rag tag band of rapists and murderers into power will accomplish that how?

Jon
Saudi wouldnt care, the RSAF would kick the RAF to death in a morderate afternoon….

Ixion
“Col Gadaffi will win this war unless we stop him.
Whether we should stop him etc is another matter. But without real intervention training equipment etc, he will win.”

Yep, they had a chance of overthrowing him if they struck quickly, but once he had time to get his artilery and armour into gear, it was just the slow methodical process of bombard until enemy breaks, advance until enemy stands, bombard until enemy breaks, advance until enemy stands.

BB
A no fly zone doesnt require a shot to be fired.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 1:59 pm

Hi DJ,

Any facts behind this “Gadaffi is being armed by Russia, via Belarus”?
– it would tally up with the longer term (normal)arms deals
– just that I have not seen anything on it

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
March 11, 2011 2:09 pm

“And us bombing a rag tag band of rapists and murderers into power will accomplish that how?”

I’m not saying that a no-fly-zone in isolation would accomplish much, but the question was; “What is the UK’s interest here?”

I’d go with:

“Having a near-abroad whose various peoples have legitimate government, in that they percieve it to be both accountable and representative, as harmonious civil society in the Med will be of great benefit to Britain’s own continued prosperity.”

How this is achieved is a separate matter. :)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 11, 2011 2:14 pm

I haven’t had a chance to properly read the article or this thread so will save my comments until I do; however, thought this might be of interest.

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/8162/the-realist-prism-libya-as-threat-du-jour

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 11, 2011 2:28 pm
ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 2:56 pm

Gareth,

Good sources you have, like the first one of your three links:

Quote first “Foreign policy is not a video game where a player can rely on an endless supply of resources and where there are no consequences for failure. Any military intervention should have clear-cut objectives and be undertaken with no illusions about the costs and risks.”

Nikolas K. Gvosdev is the former editor of the National Interest, and …is currently on the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College

Reminds me of my favourite book (had to go and get it from the shelf, for the spelling: Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice – Global Domination or Global Leadership

a
a
March 11, 2011 3:11 pm

What a good idea: Basically pull together every helicopter, carrier and special forces & commando forces you can scrape together. Use the helicopters to insert your forces, slot Gaddafi and then fight your way to the port to be extracted

So, the plan is an opposed amphibious/airmobile assault that turns straight into urban combat all the way through a city of two million people? Well, that sounds easy enough.

Some of the loudest calls for action are coming from an alliance of left wing interventionists who have obviously forgot the lessons of Iraq and the Balkans and indeed their opposition to them

That article’s by Menzies Campbell and Philippe Sands. Both supported intervention in Bosnia (though not the invasion of Iraq). You mustn’t let your instinctive hatred of the goddam hippies get between you and the real world like that.

a
a
March 11, 2011 3:15 pm

Jon: What would the political implications be of western government actively taking part in toppling a Middle Eastern dictator?

Well, what happened the last time we did it?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 3:27 pm

Hi again Gareth,

In your third link provided this Galrahn writes not-so-intelligently about the same situation, but just reading through the first three (like minded) comments to it prove my point, as contributed ArmChairCivvy
March 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm
– and I tried not to come across too opionated!!
(at a deeper level I do share the thrust of their argument)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 11, 2011 3:29 pm

From a Liberal (IR theory) point of view we can’t do jack directly because Libya is a sovereign state and we need legality/legitimacy to act. From a Realist point of view, we have screwed up big time by declaring against Gaddafi; He could now become a major threat on Europe’s Boarder but we lack the resources or the will to remove that threat. The US are not interested apart from a PR stand point and won’t give Europe the leadership (or patsy as the case may be) it appears we require.

From both a Realist and Liberal point of view, it would appear Gaddafi’s removal would be beneficial. Directly intervening would apparently be a mistake; too much anti-colonial backlash and getting bogged down in another war is not appealing. Food, fuel and even arms to the rebels might help (but might just lengthen the conflict).

What we (the west)appear to need is plausible deniability. Any arms sent should be Russian in origin, co-ordinates to fuel dumps in the desert should mysteriously find there way to rebel leaders; “Security Contractors” should be training the Rebels in tactics and weapon use (any resemblance to Green Berets and SAS are purely co-incidental…)

In fact, preety much what we did in A-Stan during the Soviet occupation. We just have to make sure the “EndGame” has a better outcome…

@ ACC – do you have a link for the RFTG story?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 3:38 pm

Hi a,

You must have directed your comment to me as it had the “What a good idea:” before the rest of the quote?

Do you not know that Gaddafi camps outside of Tripoli?

Why would that be (in normal circumstances)?
– so that this 32nd brigade can protect him from the loving supporters, all the 2 million of them near-by, 6.8 in all (can’t add the exiles, they must have a reason to go to exile)

So, another Stalingrad (or, in fact, Berlin was not being recommended).

The rest must be for someone else, I don’t recognise it

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 11, 2011 3:44 pm

Baring in mind my first link, the 24hr news channels are now full of the Japanese earthquake. I wouldn’t be surprised if those calling for intervention in Libya now call for help to be sent to the pacific… at the same time as intervening in Libya… and get quite irate when they’re told we don’t have the resources…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 3:50 pm

Hi Gareth, it is still visible on TD’s side panel (as per below); did not make much sense, but the printed (full) version might do so:

“Navy makes contingency plans to send more ships to Libya | UK news | The Guardian http://ping.fm/c4X9k

a
a
March 11, 2011 4:17 pm

ACC: Where Gaddafi lives normally isn’t really relevant. He’s (probably) in the centre of Tripoli now. I’m not suggesting that all 2 million Tripolitanians would take up arms against an invasion, just that a city of 2 million is a big place and a lot more difficult to attack than it is to defend.
Gaddafi doesn’t have many troops, true. But rule of thumb for the attack is normally 3 to 1: that is, if you’re attacking a position held by a platoon, you should have a company. Rule of thumb for the attack in a built-up area is 10 to 1: if you’re attacking a platoon, you need a battalion.

How many troops does Gaddafi have in Tripoli that are still loyal? It’s probably more than 1,000. So we’re talking about attacking with a division at least. If he’s still got most of the 32nd with him, that’s 10,000 men, and if they dig in to defend the Gaddafi clan – which is what they’re supposed to do – we’ll need an army. Literally an army, as in “multiple corps”.

And that’s not even getting into the issue of civilian casualties. We do that sort of attack into Tripoli and they’ll be stacking the bodies head-high. I don’t see a national interest there at all.

“The rest must be for someone else, I don’t recognise it” – it was for the author of the original post.

Mark
Mark
March 11, 2011 4:20 pm

A no fly will stop the air strikes on the rebels there. They certainly appear to have been able to hold there own against the land forces until the airforce and helicopters started to play apart. It will buy us time to either make a decision on arming rebels ect. It is much closer to europe and we are involved in the country. Would we be doing something or still talking about it if it was in latvia or poland.

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 11, 2011 4:21 pm

ACC
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/01/libya-received-belarus-military-shipment

Other stuff I’ve read, but cant currently find, implied the flights were ongoing.
Have any more “timber” ships gone missing?

A
Urban combat sucks when you’re 100 special forces without air support agaist 10,000 tribal militia and your black hawks are shot down.
I doubt it would be difficult if we deployed 20,000 soldiers with full arnmour support…

Its not just the old guard Lib Dems.
Papers like the Guardian and Mirror were demanding we invaded before the shooting even started.

GJ
We could arm the rebels enough so that they win, but what do we do in 6 months when they start wiping out Gadafis tribe?
Intervene again?

Unlike Afghanistan, we dont have a particular wish to see one side taught a very painful lesson.

a
a
March 11, 2011 5:11 pm

I doubt it would be difficult if we deployed 20,000 soldiers with full armour support…

Sure, it’ll be like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Fallujah

…only a lot worse; because it’s not going to be three thousand insurgents defending this time, it’s going to be ten thousand trained soldiers, in a city eight times as big. That’s if it’s just 32nd Bde defending: don’t forget all those mercenaries and tribals. Assuming that the Libyans only do as well as the Iraqi insurgents did, that’s over 1,800 friendly casualties, including 300+ dead.

And we won’t have the luxury this time of giving the population a month to evacuate first – and where would they go anyway? Two million of them? – so the civilian casualties will be not hundreds of dead but thousands, probably tens of thousands.

And all that is assuming we win! Like I say, ratio required for a successful attack in urban combat is 10 to 1. You’re suggesting attacking with 2 to 1.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 5:21 pm

Hi DJ,

SIPRI know their stuff; thanks for the link.

Also, it substantiates my original piece on a three-pronged approach to “no-fly”
– East and South first (South a CSAR problem, but the French are now in the tent, not pissing in – and they are also in Chad).

BTW, what was on that ship? I lost track of the story?

DominicJ
March 11, 2011 6:54 pm

a
except the rep guard were proper soldiers, whereas the libyans just arent.
We also secured fallujah, thats different than slotting gadafi.
Wouldnt be free, but no chance 300 dead.
I dont think its a good idea

acc
a guy who usualy knows his stuff reckons mossad intercepted it because it was shipping atgms to hezbollah.
Sounds mental, but he isnt often wrong

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 11, 2011 7:23 pm

Hi DJ,

I am not surprised at “atgms to hezbollah” except that they have plenty (and then they have the “specials” from Iran for a much longer range, as we know from the documented evidence… a pity that one hit the crane… and the crew were all down the hull, well protected, having their lunch!).

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 11, 2011 9:25 pm

Gaddafi armed the IRA, had a policewoman shot & an airliner blown up. If he has a fatal crash in his golf buggy, I will not be upset, but who are the rebels? Democrats or Religious extremists? Are we jumping from the frying pan to the fire?
So what should the UK do?
I suggest a watching brief. No intervention yet, but if the situation gets worse, be ready to play our part with the international community.
Osborne to give defence extra money in the budget.
Extra tax breaks for new oil & gas platforms in the deeper parts of the North Sea. Norway can do it, so why not us?
Start building those 2 new EDF nuclear reactors in the West Country today. Ram them through.
Copy the Swiss & have a referendum on limiting the numbers of non European asylum seekers. Make asylum only for the innocent, not the guilty.
More transport assets. Take the money from DfID. Handy for emergencies like the Japan earthquake/Tsunami.

x
x
March 11, 2011 10:38 pm

@ John

If the politicians took the International Aid budget, EU contributions, and the white elephant new high speed rail link budget we could all have a nuclear power station each.

Another thing to think about regarding the Aid budget and its increase from 7 to 11billion is that it has been calculated that to end child poverty in the UK would take 4.5 billion a year.

Mike
Mike
March 12, 2011 12:31 am

I agree with the ‘second line’stuff we may/may not be doing atm,but actively being engaged when we have somany other thongs going on,with too few resources, is quite silly…

If NATO does approve of Gadaffi’s moves then why doesnt the cloest (and in some areas, better equiped) NATO powers play the key role? Greece, Turky, Spain and Italy…hells bells, even the arabian nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia approve of getting rid of him…and the US 7th(?) Fleet is in position… We have the resources for second line support and special forces,but otherwise, I cant see it happening further.

…either way, with the Nimrod R1 carrying on…good…its not like those clapped out R1 airframes havent got a healthy supply of spares now, is it? ;)

Mike
Mike
March 12, 2011 12:32 am

I meant “if NATO doesn’t approve…” x) Soz lads, long shift…

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 12, 2011 10:00 am

A comedian summed up the UK government’s problem rather well:

“We can’t just stand by and do nothing,” said Cameron, while standing by and doing nothing.

As someone else observed, we seem to be adopting the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt’s advice: “speak softly and carry a big stick”. Our government speaks loudly while carrying a little twig.

As Gaddafi’s position strengthens and the revolt runs out of steam, I suspect that Cameron may already be regretting his advocacy of military intervention.

DominicJ
March 12, 2011 10:33 am

Tw
maybe, but we can probably get out of it cheaply.
France declared the rebels the rightful government, we just said stop bombing civies.
A silver tongued back room bloke can point out, gadafi didnt need his airforce, our threats were just internal posturing, give you a good deal on some used as90’s.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 12, 2011 10:38 am

DominicJ: “A no fly zone doesnt require a shot to be fired”.

That comment’s reminiscent of John Reid’s aspiration for Afghanistan (I believe the figure for rounds fired by UK forces in Afghanistan is running at around 4 million rounds/year).

Tubby
Tubby
March 12, 2011 10:50 am

This thread has moved on quite a bit, so rather than respond to some of the interesting comments raised I will ask a question instead – is it possible that Europe’s national interests are served by turning Gaddafi into a bogey man on their borders? Is there any advantages, such as using him to justify certain actions to their electorate (like increasing defence spending), of vilifying him and then letting him get on with wiping out the rebels while sanctioning him for a decade or so?

The reason I ask is that while I can buy Cameron jumping in with two left feet and alienating Gaddafi before it was clear the Rebels were going to grind to halt before being ground to bone dust, why did France recognise the government in Benghazi as the legitimate one, given by the time they did so it was obvious which way the wind was blowing.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
March 12, 2011 3:13 pm

@ Tubby – Could be a combination of things; humanitarian concern-tied up with trying to avoid even more North African Muslims trying to “visit”; ideological-this is the nation which gave us Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; and realist-France has always had a strong (Imperialist?) interest in (North) Africa, where’s we ran away as quickly as we could.

Geordiland Trini
Geordiland Trini
March 12, 2011 3:54 pm

Considering the countries in the immediate region of Libya have been hoovering up weaponry including advanced combat aircraft and ships, why do they not get together and take action. They have more to lose or gain than we do from this conflict as they will have to live with whomever wins.

I see no reason they could not set up a base in say, Egypt and use their F16s, F15s, Tornadoes,AWACS & warships etc on Libya. They have all been trained and equipped by NATO countries for years to operate to our standards.

The UK, US and France could provide the targeting data and logistics.

I suspect the regional powers know this wicket will be a sticky one so they prefer to keep their equipment intact and wait for us to do the job for them.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 12, 2011 4:31 pm

Tony, two comments above,

Part of the reason for that recognition (besides window dressing) is that the French know how to play the strategic game. They’ve just covered all the bases:
– Look friendly to the new governments/movements in Tunisia and Egypt (which has always been friendlier to “le monde francophonie” in its culture than to the anglos)
– Appear to be on the side of LEF (cf. Gareth above) when they needed to rehabilitate their image after their foreign minister crashed and burned
– Help set up a possibly-victorious Gaddafi as a bogeyman and reason for France to act as a “strategic umbrella” for reformers elsehwere in the Magrheb (same thing theyve done with the UAE so they could get a major interest in a world-league non-anglophone stock market/commodities exchange)
– Goad the Italians into being the linchpin for action, as they should be, if action becomes unavoidable (i.e. tribal genocide, using foreign refugees as, effectively, hostages, etc.) Italy wont budge right now b/c Berlusconi doesnt want his truly seamy relationship with Gaddafi blown up as he’s teetering already, and (have to get the sites from Economist and the American journal Foreign Policy) because money from Gaddafi-backed Libyan concerns are propping up Italy’s shaky banking system right now. But the French have pulled that off before (in Zaire a few times, for example, head-faking the Belgians into action to prevent the French gaining more influence.)

DominicJ
March 12, 2011 5:50 pm

Geordiland
Not sure how much faith to put it in, but was reading somewhere that Turkey wouldnt look kindly on Egypt seeking to reform Berber North Africa.

If Egypt rolled up Libya and Tunisia, it would suddenly be the biggest power in the western Arab world.
Algeria, Morroco?

Can France defend Algeria from Egypt?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Air_Force#Aircraft_inventory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_Air_Force#Current_inventory

It doesnt really look like it…

Scary stuff

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 13, 2011 3:52 am

Domninic,

It’s always a mistake to underestimate Egypt (see. Arab Israeli wars, 1973 version) but also a mistake to overestimate them. And that’s probably not the issue (Egypt-Algeria is something that woudl happen all on its own over the leavings of a broken Libya, and in that case you’d probably see the awkward case where the US has to make up its mind what to do as France supports the government in Algiers for fear of the demographic results of an Algerian collapse.)

As I’ve said before Egypt could crush Gaddafi like a bug, but the Libyan population would never forgive the big-brother neighbor for sticking their big boots in. I’d prefer the French backing the Tunisians, as when Tanzania gave Idi Amin a thoroughly unexpected hiding. But it is quite true, as Geordiland pointed out, that the Arab League has sufficient resources (given Euro-American AEW/ISTAR support) to run a no-fly zone themselves. Given Egyptian and Tunisian F-16s and Algerian MiGs and Mirages theres plenty of inventory to keep Gaddafi’s air force in its box. The problem remains — what to do on the ground.

a,

It’s quite true that killing Gaddafi is not a job for a few dozen underwater knife-fighters and therefore a bloody business. It’s also true that, thanks to a number of what the behavioral scientists call perception fallacies built into how humans usually do business that a nasty fight to kill him might reflect as badly as a notional long, messy, slowly-degraded, ultimately-despised outside intervention to displace the Gaddafi clan and set up a new system (a la the cluster-French Connection UK in Iraq, likewise Afghanistan.) But in a broader consideration, the former (killing the senior Gaddafis and accepting the casualties) is almost inevitably less awful than the latter (showing up in force and sticking around because of mistaken ideas from right and left alike that “it’s the decent thing to do”). Non-intervention is subject to honest debate.

DominicJ,

As to whether “someone else will come up,” that’s really the Libyans’ lookout. Based on the ground truth of Libya, this is a very different case from the “terrorism as hydra” analogy (cut of one head, three take its place.) Gaddafi deliberately built a system that is, by comparison, a snake, stovepiped up to a single leadership cell. Different even from Saddam’s model where he was much more involved in jobs for the boys for his al-Tikriti clan, and in creating opposing power bases for his sons so they’d fight each other and not him (like Stalin, Saddam had a certain peasant cunning.) Figuring out the post-Gaddafi mess is the Libyans’ own job, and they 1) might be able to do it and 2) if it goes too far south, Egypt, Algeria, and the Saudis all have interests in making sure he’s not replaced by something worse. Let them sort it out.

Was it Paul who asked this above? If not, ref the relevant comment,
Yes, in this case we should look to nothing more than second-line support, not just the UK but also the US and Canada and various other northern European sorts. In good post-colonial fashion its the Italians’ (and, after them, the French’s) job to lead the dance. Goodness knows after the bigoted mess of colonial Libya and the death of Omar Mukhtar the Italians owe the Libyan public a useful death. (They won’t get it from Berlusconi, for reasons in my comment above, unless the French head-fake them into it.) But you could see a situation like this in a place that *is* a “British problem”: Morocco goes south and affects Gibraltar, or — especially — the eventual Nigerian meltdown ….

Gabriele
Gabriele
March 13, 2011 8:33 am

By the time someone finally takes a decision, by the look of it, the rebellion will have been already crushed and destroyed anyway, with how things are evolving.

Europe, especially France and the UK, should have not recognized the rebel government without either
A) being ready to support it
or B) being sure the rebellion was going to be a success.

Now Europe (but US too, to be sincere) have put their bet on the losing horse at the race.
The Arabs are now calling for NATO help, and if they do not see it come, they will take it as a sign of tacit support for Gaddafi, and also as a sign of the decay of western’s power and control over the situation, just in the garden outside Europe’s door.

How much damage will this cause? Hard to say for now. For sure, it will not be pretty.
Just how nasty it gets, however, is hard to say at the moment.

And anyway, i do not think a ground operation is needed. Until a rebel army exists, air attacks from NATO forces would be enough: the UK alone, with a couple of Sentinel (ah, the irony!) based in Malta, could easily keep track of the movements of the Gaddafi’s forces on the ground, particularly of Heavy Armor, and a bunch of Tornado GR4 with Brimstone and Paveway bombs could stop the tank formations of Gaddafi relatively easily, allowing the rebellion to survive and advance again.
There’s already AWACS and tankers in the area: with a bunch of Typhoons, and assets from, say, France, the air policing part of the operation is done.

Leave the ground ops to the rebellion, and bomb savagely the tank formations of Gaddafi, when they are out in the open if that’s possible, so to really really avoid chances of hurting civilians.
It is the best thing NATO can (and should, after exposing itself so much with declarations and everything) do.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 13, 2011 9:24 am

Hi Gabriele,

No evidence of such formations yet “bomb savagely the tank formations of Gaddafi”
– rather, individual tanks used as fire support for infantry
– however, a transit between the dispersed battle locations surely would be made in a bigger formation

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 13, 2011 10:37 am

An interesting point was made by John Simpson (newly returned from Libya) in “am” this morning that the actual fighting was only involving a few dozen people on each side.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 13, 2011 11:07 am

“actual fighting was only involving a few dozen people on each side”
… and in built-up surroundings, or just on the fringe of them
=> air strikes no use, as you would level both sides in equal measure, and, there are no massed formations (other than perhaps artillery/ rocket launchers) to target

DominicJ
March 13, 2011 11:27 am

two packs of wolves fighting over who gets to eat the flock of sheep?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 13, 2011 11:34 am

Hi DJ,

You are not too wrong there, as it is the oil terminals (key to any future cash, if a stalemate is “declared”)
– without them, no cash flow from just being in possession of the oil fields
– just denying that source of funds to the other side could be a determining factor in the longer term outcome (mere survival is an outcome for Gaddafi & sons)

What do your sources say about that arms shipment from Syria (by sea). A rumour or a fact?

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 13, 2011 12:42 pm

Regarding the issue of tank formations and concentrations of armour; one report on BBC News24 the other day mentioned eight tanks being captured or destroyed during one advance of Gaddafi forces, before they were pushed back.

It’s never that clear what reporters are refering to though. Everything and anything with tracks often gets described as a tank.
————-
I’m still unsure as to how legal any involvement would be; or about why we should be actively invoved in action against Gaddafi forces.

If something is to happen, though; the politicians need to get their heads together and come up with something pretty sharpish – it’s all looking quite shoddy at the moment.

A different Gareth
A different Gareth
March 13, 2011 1:38 pm

Tony Williams said: “As Gaddafi’s position strengthens and the revolt runs out of steam, I suspect that Cameron may already be regretting his advocacy of military intervention.”

Doubt it. Even if nothing comes of it there are an armful of targets Cameron can pin the blame on – EU, NATO, UN to name three. Previous Labour Government for not funding and equipping the MoD how the MoD wanted it. Maybe even the USA if Cameron were feeling particularly emboldened by the process.

Calling for a no-fly zone from the relative safety of not being able to do it alone was a no lose option for Cameron.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 13, 2011 3:32 pm

Except that if Gaddafi regains control, all of those nice fat contracts for British firms in Libya might suddenly dry up…

Gabriele
Gabriele
March 13, 2011 6:16 pm

@ArmChairCivvy

Think that the rebels would really be that disappointed and angry if Brimstone missiles destroyed those “lone” battle tanks used by Gaddafi’s forces…?

Because even a single tank is a bad news for lightly armed rebels which have RPG-7 at the most.
And even a T-72 is going to resist to those very well, even if it is far from a Challenger II or Abrams.
Tanks and aircrafts are the main reason why the rebellion is losing terrain, be them many or just a few here and there.
When your AT capability is an RPG-7 and your anti-air defence is a ZSU-23 twin gun trailed manually IIWW-style, you have little chances to resist.

@ air strikes no use, as you would level both sides in equal measure, and, there are no massed formations (other than perhaps artillery/ rocket launchers) to target

Not really. It depends on the weapon you use. A Brimstone can take out a tank with little to no damage to the surroundings. Even a Paveway IV can be used relatively safely.
Obviously, no one suggests using 900 kg MK84 bombs in the middle of villages.

Europe and US might want to decide how much damage a victorious Gaddafi will make.
What are the chances that, just to say one thing out of many, he retaliates for the declarations of support to the rebels by

-Selling its oil and resources to China instead of Europe. (bad, bad, bad news for Italy in particular, and alone a good reason to be “a little” less passive than we currently are, both because of an historically deluded and empty “Peace and Love” Left wing and because Berlusconi is our Right Wing)
-supporting terrorists actions against Europe (we Italians remember the Ustica bomb, you had Lockerbie… he could do it again.)
-spurring wild immigration towards Europe, with all its costs (and in this it will be helped by all the rebels that will flee when their rebellion fails. The ones that won’t be killed, of course…)
-Would he mess with merchant traffics in the mediterranean sea lanes…? Probably not. But it would not surprise me if he does. He could always throw the blame on Al Quaeda…
and use China’s veto, bought with the oil, to stop any action of the UN against him.

I think there could be some “interesting” scenarios opening in front of Europe in the near future.
Europe and US have chosen a side. Intervention or not, being on the loser side never is pretty.

Tubby
Tubby
March 13, 2011 6:58 pm

@Gabriele,

Just spotted your comment with regard to Gaddafi sponsoring terrorism if he loses. While I can buy selling his oil to China (especially if China pushes it as as condition of selling Gaddafi new weapons). I also suspect that a Gaddafi victory will see wide spread exodus out of Libya, as I am fairly certain he does not have enough men to occupy the East, and unless he kills every man of the age 16, he will be chewed up trying to occupy the East, so his best bet is to destroy their infrastructure and and cause them to flee from the area for fear of reprisals. However I am not sure he is stupid enough to sponsor terrorists, after all this is the act that is likely to bring America in on the side of the rebels, and it is game over then.

Still its interesting times for Europe (in the sense of the Chinese saying) and one that shows we need more resources if we are really are going to be concentrating our forces to respond to events in North Africa, Middle East (including Pakistan) and Eastern Europe – which is ironic, as the scenario’s that the MoD played out were both correct that they predicted trouble in North Africa (along with the Baltic states and Pakistan) and incorrect as they assumed a longer time scale and US involvement.

Of course if it gets bad in Libya and the rest of North Africa I would expect to see Europe pull forces from Afghanistan (I suspect that this will be excuse for most forces to leave by late summer) and for UK, France and Germany to quietly reverse some of their dumber ideas to strengthen their forces.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 13, 2011 7:19 pm

Gabriele,

Many valid points.

But the way to go is to lever Arab League’s participation (if any!) and do the Europe/ NATO part of the no-fly zone from over the sea, at a stand-off range.

In the mass atrocity case (how many thousand is the limit?) stepping in and setting up a demarcation line should be doable with small ground forces. Then manning most of it with Arab League countries’ units (??)and only providing the logistics.

… well, the League of Nations only managed one action (kicking out the USSR) before they disbanded as useless, so we will see

Gabriele
Gabriele
March 13, 2011 8:48 pm

@Tubby
“However I am not sure he is stupid enough to sponsor terrorists, after all this is the act that is likely to bring America in on the side of the rebels, and it is game over then.”

Valid point. But does Gaddafi is nearly as reasonable…? The way he acts tell me: “no, he is not.”
He did it in the past. He could do it again.

@ArmChairCivvy
“and do the Europe/ NATO part of the no-fly zone from over the sea, at a stand-off range.”

I’m not sure i get the right sense out of what you are saying. You mean… not flying over Libya?
I guess no, because there’s no missile with enough range, or a radar capable to target enemy planes into Libya with the fighters staying onto the Med. Too easy if it was possible! Even the old Phoenix/F14 couple could not do that.

Maybe you mean air policing but not bombing…?
That would be better than nothing, but with Tobruk reportedly having been re-taken by Gaddafi, simply keeping the sky clean won’t work now. Too late already for that.
Before the end of this week, the rebellion might be crushed already, at this pace.

“In the mass atrocity case (how many thousand is the limit?) stepping in and setting up a demarcation line should be doable with small ground forces. Then manning most of it with Arab League countries’ units (??)and only providing the logistics.”

We might see the “limit” in a few days if the rebels group inside Benghazy and try resisting into the town. Gaddafi does not have the strenght to clear the town house after house… nor he wants to, i fear. He’s not going to be as polite as we are with Talibans in Afghanistan.
He is likely to start bombing all over the place.

THAT might prove to be the limit.
But by then, a land intervention will be necessary… while NATO might still be in time for fixing things from the air only, with obvious advantages.

This, at least, is how i view things. I can base myself only on the images and reports coming from the press, obviously. What i see on TV about the rebellion is no good.
Their concept of mechanized infantry is a Toyota pick-up with a PKM… it just won’t work, and they are finding it out.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 13, 2011 9:15 pm

Hi Gabriele,

The “too late” is probably a reasonable assessment.

But all the fighting of any substance is within 20-30 km of the shoreline, so doing it from over the sea is perfectly feasible (thinking of CSAR here, mainly). Add Asters and SM-2s (plenty more of the latter)to the mix.

And if the Arabs don’t move, then no land involvement is a perfectly sound policy.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 18, 2011 2:39 am

I wonder if it is a mere coincidence that the UN has voted to permit a no-fly zone only when there won’t be enough time to set one up before Gaddafi’s forces win?

DominicJ
DominicJ
March 18, 2011 10:16 am

TW
The intervention also allows bombing ground units.
The only thing actualy against it appears to be occupation, so you can even land an army, as long as it, technicaly, answers to the Benghazi Government…

But yes, theres a good chance this will be effectivly over before anything really gets started.