Operation Ellamy

So unless you have been on the moon all day it looks like its chocks away and tally ho over Libya. The operation, from a UK perspective, is to be called Operation Ellamy.

I am not entirely sure there is a valid British interest here that warrants risking service personnel and I suspect there are a number of drivers such as vanity, basking in the glory of those in uniform and good old fashioned arrogance but we are where we are, the die has been cast.

There are as many questions as answers and no doubt the rules of engagement will become as clear as mud in due course.

David Cameron has suddenly realised what a terrible dictator Gaddafi is, after several months of selling weapons and doing oil deals and several years of saying precisely nothing. I checked Hansard earlier today, pretty slim pickings if you are looking for condemnation from the MP for Witney.

There are so many contradictions here, if we are concerned enough about the oppression of civilians by their government then surely we would be mobilising against Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe but of course we don’t care enough about those nations or realise which side our bread is buttered.

Read the full text of the UN Resolution 1973 (2011) here but in summary;

  • 10 for, non against, 5 abstentions (China, India, Brazil, Russian Federation and Germany)
  • Demands an immediate ceasefire
  • No fly zone across all Libya except for humanitarian support and to enforce the no flow zone
  • Tightening of asset freeze, ban on flights
  • Excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory and arms embargo
  • Authorises all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian population areas from the threat of attack
  • Excludes a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory

As with most of these resolutions there is room for interpretation, what exactly do all necessary measures actually mean, what is the definition of occupation?

Would a special forces team, coordinating air strikes actually constitute an occupying force?

Once the news filtered out it was obvious that the goal of Gaddafi would be to buy time, muddy the moral waters and drive a wedge between moderate voices and those who are up for a dust up.

Right on cue came a cease fire and an invite to those abstaining countries to come to Libya and report that the cease fire was being observed. No doubt these observers would duly stumble upon grisly scenes of crimes against humanity, all very convenient of course.

Playing for time, time that is to move up forces, consolidate his logistics and get his forces into built up areas and possibly stock up with in flight meals!

If he does manage to get in close to Benghazi he knows that target identification and likely tough rules of engagement will make interdiction from the air very difficult.

What Gaddafi’s end game is not certain, he has called the bluff of those wanting to get involved and from the strength of 1973 it would seem that bluff has been well and truly called.

What next is the real question.

President Obama has set down a number of ultimatums including restoration of utilities, withdraw several towns away from Benghazi and free movement of humanitarian aid.

Will air forces interdict air defences, command and control locations, fuel and ammunition stores before implementing the no fly zone for example?

For obvious reasons, US forces will play a supporting role, logistics, backup aircraft and maybe combat search and rescue from one of their carriers (USS Enterprise) currently be repositioned in the area. It is thought that European forces will take the lead with additional support from a number of nations.

The forces shaping up might include RAF Typhoon’s, Tornado’s, Nimrod R1’s, E3 Sentry’s and airborne refuelling aircraft. The Tornado GR4’s would probably be used for ground attack and reconnaissance with the Typhoons acting in the offensive counter air role but both can cross over into each others roles. The R1 will have course been flying off the coast mapping and analysing anything that emits an electronic signal, building up a picture of opposing forces. If we can muster one, a Sentinel R1 or two would also provide invaluable all weather ground scanning and target indication.

Submarine launched Tomahawks could also chip in.

We always tend to downplay the UK’s military capabilities but if I was an African mercenary or Gaddafi loyalist driving a Mig, Toyota or T62 tank I would be proper shitting myself. An AK, artillery piece or 23mm cannon might be fearsomely effective against civilians but they are not much use against AMRAAM’s, Paveways, Storm Shadows, Tomahawk and Brimstones.

Joining UK forces will be Belgian, Canadian and Danish aircraft with others such as Italy, France and Spain also likely to contribute. Also, lets not forget the considerable naval presence in the area which could provide naval gunfire support as a last resort and a range of other more likely used capabilities. All of these can operate at night, unlike Libyan forces. Not many signs of Arab League nations volunteering to chip in yet, despite the fact that they can actually muster between them a serious force, probably more than capable to do the job themselves, much better to stand on the sidelines and bask in the glory should it go well, or condemn it should things go tits up.

Lets see how much words are translated into deeds.

It will also not go unnoticed, should Arab League nations take part, that they will be supporting democracy abroad but not tolerating it at home.

Malta seems to have denied host nation support which will no doubt have the carrier junkies up in arms demanding that we reverse the decision to withdraw the Harrier GR9’s and CVS. The reality of carrier and land based aviation is that they are complimentary, it is a boring and non confrontational answer but it is the sensible one nevertheless. Ark Royal with a handful of GR9’s would have been extremely effective in the strike and interdiction role but without a radar, the GR9’s would have required support from others, again, a complimentary set of capabilities which we will no doubt miss both in this and other operations likely to occur in the future.

That said, Sigonella is about 280nm/40 minutes away from Tripoli and Misratah and to Benghazi, slightly longer, 300nm or about 50 minutes. These distances were routinely being exceeded on the Balkans and Iraq so whilst a carrier would have been damned useful, not sure they are essential.

It will be interesting to see what role Egypt and Tunisia play in basing issues.

After what comes next is what comes after the what comes next!

Do we actually know anything about the forces of Libyan democracy, what are they going to be like now that we have taken sides in a civil war?

Given that Germany abstained, what next for a common EU foreign policy, is the Anglo French military alliance starting to displace the Franco German political alliance?

So for now, its watch, wait and wish those involved the best of luck.

No doubt the law of unintended consequences is limbering up for a good outing.

In the meantime, have a bit of Brimstone and Stormshadow porn

 

UPDATE 01

French aircraft attacked a ground target and

112 Tomahawk missiles fired from US and UK surface vessels and submarines struck over 20 locations that were involved with command and control and air defence.

Targets based on a collective assessment of threats to pilots who will be enforcing the no fly zone and Libyan civilians

US is in command of Odyssey Dawn, the coalition operation to enforce UN Resolution 1973 (2011) but this will be transferred to a coalition commander for subsequent phases

MoD confirms RAF GR4’s fired Storm Shadow and a Trafalgar class submarine fired Tomahawk cruise missiles. Tornado GR4’s flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham to complete the mission, making it the longest range mission since the 1982 Black Buck raids.

RAF Sentinel and Shadow aircraft also involved, Typhoons on standby. HMS Cumberland and Westminster in the area.

Bomb damage assessment now being carried out

 

 

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jackstaff
jackstaff
March 18, 2011 11:22 pm

Because google is my friend, I’m told that one anagram for Op Ellamy is “loonier playmate.” Guess that’s got the Old Man of Tripoli covered ….

Actually there was action ref: Ivory Coast earlier in the decade, and there will be again at some point, but right now the combination (and often opposing interests) of France and Nigeria think they can game the situation to a successful conclusion (elected president in power, Gbagbo & thugs gone) since they don’t much care about some civilians shelled to death in the process. Zimbabwe’s too damn poor and Bahrain — well, this is the Arab 1848 so when you get to Sunni v. Shia cup ties all bets are off. As I said in the other thread, I think three of the main drivers in this that aren’t just hubris are:

– Concern, probably sincere (well-founded is debatable, but it’s sincere), in the West, about learning what they failed to throughout the Cold War (when you don’t back nationalist reformers, from Indochina to Cuba, they turn to your opposition for support) and trying to keep post-purge Libyan rebels from getting all al-Quaeda-y
– Keeping Gaddafi from lashing out both east and west (remember the mandate’s to “protect civilians,” the foreign-policy version of doing it for the children) against his own citizens and any poor wage-workers from the neighbours who get in the way, which might actually drag Egypt and Tunisia into a fustercluck of a regional war
– What I said in the Spectator thread, that France’s mandarins have seen an opening to re-establish themselves as the Western patron of democratic North Africa, with all the influence and energy goodies to go with. And they’ve made a pragmatic bargain with the States to do some lifting, dragged the crumb-grubbers in Whitehall along with, and offered to do the Arab League’s dirty work for them. Neither “Europe” nor Europe are really the EU-on-paper anyway. The French have always been keenest on using it as a final victory for Charlemagne, Franco-west German-Walloon dominance over the continent. So between (smart) German caution about bailing out spendthrifts all over the map and France’s desire for real-world power and influence (they’re the comeback kids of empire-building for the last thousand years) and there will be some dents or alternatives in that relationship, sure.

May the men and women under all those flags stay safe as they can.

Cheers for the Brimstone porn. Britain can still build stuff that goes boom.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 18, 2011 11:25 pm

“I was an African mercenary or Gaddafi loyalist driving a Mig, Toyota or T62 tank I would be proper shitting myself.”

In honour of Eighties Night down the local, word.

S O
S O
March 18, 2011 11:51 pm

I’m not sure either, but I guess the red line between occupation force or not is the exercise of administrative OR police powers.

Soldier stopping civilians on a road by pointing rifles at them = occupation
soldiers asking civilians to stop because of dangers ahead = no occupation.

This, of course, would mean that no forces with AFG or Iraq experience are useful for surface actions in Libya any more.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 12:13 am

Just a nit to pick (you knew one of us Dark Blues would ;) the reason the GR9s would have been less useful because of the RAF-and-bean-counter led effort to kill SHAR. The sensible thing — sorry it’s not ruthless commonality, that’s what “Seaphoon” would have been for and it will never happen — would be, on CVS and CVF alike, to have RAF aircraft aboard optimised for a strike role that can leapfrog ashore, and FAA jets aboard for fleet/forward air cover that stay on the flat-tops.

jed
jed
March 19, 2011 12:52 am

TD that qoute may go down as a site classic, as may jackstaff’s response :-)

Actually seeing as u mentioned ROE you might find that a GR9 with a couple of ASRAAM under AWACS would be just fine against Mig 23 and Mirage F1 – not a perfect solution for every scenario obviously, but if positive visual ID is required………..

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 1:38 am

Cheers, Jed, I was chuffed about how that worked out at the time :)

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 1:41 am

And the boss — well, he’s the boss, isn’t he?

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 2:22 am

On the subject of great quotes, I just have to cut and paste this beautiful bit from commenter “Dee Illuminati” over at Information Dissemination’s newest Libya thread:

“If the Chad/Libyan conflict or the “toyota war” is any indicator, intelligence supplied by the US along with UN resolution forces should prevail. If France has adequate SIGNIT then I can imagine a phone call being made to any communication device that Gaddafi is close to an a conversation such as:
(Ring-Beep)
(hello in arabic)
(Nicholas: “Muammar this is Nicholas”)
~~ pregnant and uncomfortable pause~~
(Nicholas: “I just wanted to call about the monies you want returned from my election”)
(Muammar: “starts ranting~~”)
(Nicholas: “Well I don’t want to interrupt but I just wanted to call and say that I sent a check by air courier”)
~~ pregnant and uncomfortable pause as the sound of an unmanned drone in the background can be heard~~”

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 2:36 am

Ello chaps just thought I would pop in and share my thoughts on the news. Well first of all is this really a surprise to anyone now with all the waffling that the politicians have been doing in the media. Would look rather bloody stupid if we or the yanks abstained and would also look stupid if the abstinees voted it down as that would be serious PR blunder for all to see.
From a monetary point of view my main question would be who is going to pay for the RAF operation will it be additional funds from somewhere or more buggering around with the core budget affecting other areas. What I would like to see if we actually do go for a no fly zone is the RAF possibly doing one fighter CAP over wherever and providing E-3D since ze Germans don’t want to contribute NATO AWACS crews (About a third of the NATO AWACS crews are German). We could probably just about provide our own tanker needs depending on the utilisation of aircraft supporting the airbridge. There is probably also the guarantee that if we deploy a dozen or so Typhoons to do one of the orbits the majority of the remainder not needed for UK QRA will be sitting in bits.

Having hopefully put our resources where the Governments rather large and noisy mouth is we could try and get everyone else to fill the holes which they should manage without too much bother. Anyhow random waffling over with carry on lads.

El Sid
El Sid
March 19, 2011 3:18 am

Actually Euan, there’s quite a good argument for the US _not_ to be seen interfering in the Arab world for once, although what happens away from the cameras is another matter.

TD – the big UK interest in all this is primarily Saudi, not Libya. If Saudi descends into chaos then the world economy is utterly screwed, like really properly screwed. Obviously there’s been a deal which has allowed Saudi to send a pretty brutal message to its own citizens via the Bahrainis, in return for Arab League support (at a diplomatic if not practical level) for action in Libya.

The big question that occurs to me is – where is Greece? Crete – and in particular Souda – would be a rather handier base for Benghazi. I know they’re broke and slashing their military spending, but surely they could just open up Souda to visitors?

“I was an African mercenary or Gaddafi loyalist driving a Mig, Toyota or T62 tank I would be proper shitting myself.”

Can we extend this to Lexus as well?

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 3:41 am

El Sid,
“Can we extend this to Lexus as well?”

The dealership has a special on.

Dead on wrt Saudi. Like in 1848 when the powers were terrified (for military, not economic, reasons) of the Hapsburgs coming unglued, it does come back round to Saudi. (That and the French being smart enough to make lots of new friends in N Africa, but everybody’s got to be tired of me beating that drum.) As for Greece its hard to say. I don’t think they want to slash military spending even if they have to b/c of Turkey, but if someone could get the Gulf states to “reimburse” them for Souda like the GW1 deal writ small, it would be handy.

Solomon
Solomon
March 19, 2011 5:43 am

i guess i’ll be the ugly American on this one.

i’m glad that the UK and France are leading on this. it’ll be interesting to watch the European way of war vs. the US solution.

Godspeed and the after action reports should be intriguing.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 19, 2011 6:49 am

Hi jackstaff,

RE “the Arab 1848 so when you get to Sunni v. Shia cup ties all bets are off”
– Bahrain is exactly like Qatif or Safwa in the eastern provinces of Saudi
– it is easier to use the strong arm (for demonstration effect) in the neighbour – especially when the world’s biggest oil terminal is not right next door (there)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 19, 2011 7:02 am

Hi Euan,

RE “From a monetary point of view my main question would be who is going to pay for the RAF operation will it be additional funds from somewhere or more buggering around with the core budget affecting other areas.”
– as the PM is keen for this to be counted against his name (in history writing), this time “boy” George will get clear marching orders re: the use of Treasury reserve?

RE ” What I would like to see if we actually do go for a no fly zone is the RAF possibly doing one fighter CAP over wherever and providing E-3D since ze Germans don’t want to contribute NATO AWACS crews (About a third of the NATO AWACS crews are German)”
– read somewhere that the Germans have agreed to compensate in A-stan for what needs to come out of there, for the current op

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 19, 2011 7:08 am

Hi El Sid,

RE “although what happens away from the cameras is another matter.”
– in ex-Yugoslavia, prior to the Kosovo phase, what solved the stalemate was a well-armed ground army of locals (not the air campaign)
– the same is “on the go” already, with the Egyptians acting as proxies (for the supply, may be some training, too)

DominicJ
March 19, 2011 7:11 am

you’ve so missed it….
‘any actions to protect civillians’
we’ll bomb tripolinian forces back to tripoli with benghazi forces an sf doing the ground push.

Think toppling the taliban.
300 miles is nowt, the typhoon should have an hour unrefueled on station, even with a full war load.
Short sharp war, just as strategic raiding intended….

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 19, 2011 7:35 am

Add Hillary to this [Washington Post piece]
“Obama’s decision to participate in military operations marks a victory for a faction of liberal interventionists within the administration, including Rice, Rhodes and National Security Council senior directors Samantha Power and Gayle Smith.

Some of them were shaped by U.S. inaction in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s — as officials in previous administrations or as journalists — and saw in Libya’s civil conflict a moral imperative to prevent mass killings as Gaddafi retook rebel-held areas and threatened reprisal against those who did not surrender.

The internal divide

Among those most skeptical of another military commitment for over-stretched U.S. forces were Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon and his deputy, Denis R. McDonough, who are known within the administration as pragmatists”
and it seems that Gaddafi “got” his arse kicked by women (mainly)

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 19, 2011 8:44 am

After watching the rebels down a Mig-23 over Benghazi on Sky this morning, I pondered this:

The rebels have allegedly captured a number of aircraft including a/some Mig-23(‘s). Was this an Libyan Air Force (Official) aircraft or Libyan Air Force (Provisional)? If the rebels have just shot down one of their own aircraft, how will they tell the difference between NATO’s and Ghadaffi’s?

I’m guessing that the aircraft recognition skills of your average rebel is minimal to say the least and they will probably fire at anything that passes overhead, including high altitude Seagulls.

This doesn’t bode well…..

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
March 19, 2011 9:04 am

What shot it down? I didn’t see a missile track, and couldn’t hear any heavy artillery.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 19, 2011 9:17 am

Hi Tony, its difficult to see on the footage, given the altitude, but there is definitely an inflight explosion. The later still shots show flames coming from the jet-pipe which suggests significant engine damage.

Accepted, it’s no guarantee it was shot down, although it would be very unlucky to have the engine disintegrate at such an in-opportune moment!

Fat Man
Fat Man
March 19, 2011 9:48 am

Looks like the much denigrated and ‘unnecessary’ MBDA Brimstone might finally get the chance to plink some tanks. So much for ‘we don’t need Cold War capabilities any more’. This is the trouble with SDSR; so much of it has been determined using short term financial criteria to select which capabilities are retained that the tail is wagging the dog. The Force 2020 decisions are an attempt to predict what sort of wars will be fought in future and to drive force structures and equipment holdings downwards to match. Well there is only one person known who can reliably predict the future and His name is not David Cameron.

The UK is going to lose capabilities like the Sentinel ASTOR aircraft to save money on the justification that the sort of future conflicts coming along do not require them. With the world getting more unstable this is hardly the time for the UK to be dispensing with such capabilities, not least because we can almost certainly expect more Libyas in the next 10-20 years. Time for SDSR2, despite Liam Fox’s opposition?

Michael (ex-DIS)
Michael (ex-DIS)
March 19, 2011 9:53 am

I read somewhere the other day, that of the “foreign” fighters that went to Iraq to kill a few infidels, on a per capita basis, the most numerous were Libyans. Of these Libyans, 85% of those who identified their place of birth were from Benghazi or other places in eastern Libya. And we are asking our people to risk their necks for these people. Mad.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 19, 2011 10:07 am

Michael, we shouldn’t forget either that it didn’t take long for coalition forces in Iraq to go from liberators to occupiers.

It would be interesting to see if any NATO airmen shot down are assisted by rebel forces or ‘captured’ by armed gangs. I don’t believe that the rebel forces are a unified force, but a number of armed gangs with a common enemy. The problems will start when and if Ghadaffi steps down and then finding out who’s in charge of which area.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 19, 2011 10:57 am

I was reading reports yesterday of the market place shelling in Ivory Coast that left 25 dead; and the shootings of protesters in Yemen that left 30 civilians dead and possibly 200 injured.

Not quite the same concern from the US and Europe for protecting the civilian population of these countries at the moment.

Maybe if the current operation in Libya is a little too successful, and Gaddafi goes without too much fuss, Cameron might get a real Tony Blair war hard-on and begin trying to bomb the whole worlds problems away.
———
I heard Obama saying how we had a clear mission in Libya – to protect the Libyan people. This seems to me to be the most wishy-washy mission statement we could possibly have.

Plenty of room for escalation of our involvement. And just how long does our mandate to protect the Libyan people last, and how many need to be at risk – if Gaddafi goes next week, and in six months, twelve months time the replacement regime kills a hundred people, are we still committed to protecting the Libyan people?
———
As raised by SO, what constitutes an ocupation force? Small teams on the ground for targeting couldn’t realisticaly be described as an ocupation force. What about a battalion to secure a port for humanitarian aid? Or a brigade or two to block the main routes east? If you’re not holding or administrating a population centre, you have an argument for your troops on the ground. Plenty of grey area there.
———
Regarding the delay for the start of the operation. It was reported yesterday that the Charles De Gaulle would not be ready to sail until tomorrow at the earliest. That could be part of the reason.
———
I didn’t see all of the PM’s commons anouncement yesterday, but there didn’t seem to be many MPs not towing the line. Only a couple expressed doubts. I hope someone is keeping track of who, incase this all goes pear shaped.

Mark
Mark
March 19, 2011 11:43 am

Why is Libya different from yemen bahrain etc well as far as I know those countries havent been using fast air and helicopter gunships on it own people. Libya is also north africa right on europes back yard and in the end they have asked the UN for help. A no fly and navy blockade will allow containment of the situation and let its people sort it out on the ground themselves.

It does show we still need sufficient fast jet numbers (which we no longer have) manned recon assets(awac, astor ect) and navy ships all the thing SDSR proposes to scrap. Afghan is the exception to the rule I believe. This type of operation has been used a lot in the past to varying levels of effectiveness. Its obvious with the reaction here boots on the ground is very much out of favour now.
As for is a carrier vital here probably not as has been mentioned lots of friendly airbase provided we have lots of tanker aircraft to get them there how many does the arabs and europe have? With only 9 in raf service in the future this doesnt look a health position if you want to mount round the clock caps. So maybe a carrier with proper aircraft would make it much easier to mount this operation with less logistics as im sure the US will show.

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 19, 2011 11:51 am

Some random thoughts.
In 1989, I had a letter printed in Flight International saying the MoD should have bought Harrier II Plus rather than FA2. I was mocked at the time, but I cannot help thinking that 16 RN Harrier II Plus could do the swing role stuff , still be in service & operating off Illustrious now.
Typhoon needs the conformal tanks to do these sorts of missions. Will they now get them?
Will any extra money for defence be in the upcoming budget? All that extra VAT on high fuel prices would allow it.
It is too late for Nimrod MRA4, but for heavens sake, keep Sentinel in service.
Both new QE carriers should be kept & given proper airgroups.
RN Destroyers/cruisers with 155mm or 8 inch guns would be handy for shore bombardment.
Astute should have a precise lighter weapon such as Triton, as well as the heavier Tomahawk.
Since 2003, it has been obvious that Britain needs to be more energy independent. Our useless politicians of all parties have just faffed. We need new nuclear & clean coal power stations. There are no magnitude 9 earthquakes in the UK. Largest recorded 6.1 on the Dogger bank 40 miles offshore.
Norway builds oil/gas platforms in the deeper parts of the North Sea, so why can’t we?
Asylum should only be for the innocent, not the guilty.
Perhaps the nations that abstained could host peace talks?
A Russian/Chinese hosted meeting in Malta perhaps?
Even if it means temporary partition of Libya. West Libya under Gaddafi, with East Libya under the rebels.
We need to look to a political solution.

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 19, 2011 11:56 am

Extra random thought.
Something needs to be done about the dogs breakfast of the RAF A330 Airtanker PFI. We need 14 to the same standard as the RAAF & forget about leasing them to airlines, or we will end up with half equipped planes to heavy for the airlines without massive subsidy, while being too lightly equipped for the RAF in war zones.

sk
sk
March 19, 2011 12:01 pm

Thanks guys, very interesting info.

I think greece mentioned that they will Souda to be used. However i am not sure if they will place any restrictions.
They will offer 4 aircrafts but suspect that these will checking the airspace in the nearby coffee-shops.

Regarding Ivory Coast, the situation looks to be managed ok by the neighbour countries. What his name (Gbagbo) has not got access to any cash, cannot sell any cacao, banks have frozen money. For the moment he has been given support/cash from the big men in Angola but this will run out..

Gabriele
Gabriele
March 19, 2011 12:48 pm

I’m officially a Carrier Junkie it seems, then.

Anyway, as a news of interest, US has a carrier in the area, France fetched Charles De Gaulle for the operation, and even Italy, even being “so close” has first of all sent the Garibaldi out with its Harriers.

I guess they are all morons who waste money on “unnecessary” assets, while the RAF is smart…?

There might be “carrier junkies” that are excessive in their calls: the operations over Libya are possible even without carriers (wasting a lot more flying hours and fuel flying from far away bases, though), but that’s because there’s Italy and Akrotiri just close.

Because save for Italy’s bases, i do not see much availability of foreign, allied airbases.
Egypt said no.
Malta said no, and so along.

Libya does not weaken the role of the aircraft carrier and its relevance in any strategy and situation. Like it or not, it actually makes it stronger.

A pity that NATO can’t put engines under Italy and move it around! Next time, trouble might not be so close.

As to the Harrier GR9 not being an “air policing” asset, true. But that’s because the Harrier with radar was killed in the Uk back in 2006.
Italy’s AV8B Harriers have radars, AMRAAMs, and are sailing on the deck of Garibaldi towards Benghazi.

As to the interests of the UK and Europe, i think there’s plenty of them: Libya is too close to the door of house not to intervene, first of all.

The arabs called for help themselves, and south-africa countries also called for it.
Ignore their call would have been diplomatically very dangerous a move.

Europe and US have also readily condemned Gheddafi from the start of the rebellion.
Anyone has tried thinking of the consequences of calling him a enemy and then letting him win…?
Result in short: Gaddafi hates Europe for calling him an enemy and obstacling him. Rebels hating Europe for being destroyed without getting any real help but just words.

Again, hot air talk without serious interventions, or even sanctions alone, are RIDICULOUS. They literally make people like Gaddafi laugh.
A real intervention is another kind of message sent to everyone, Iran included.

And for once, we have to HOPE the US stay out of it as much as possible.
This is the chance for Europe to show the world it is (at least partially) a credible power, with the proverbial military strick at the ready when words fail.

Lastly, economical reasons:
Have you heard Gaddafi’s foreign minister on Sky News this morning, calling for India and Brazil and China to “come and take our petrol” in place of France, Uk, Italy and the west in general…?
Well, i did. Not that i don’t expected it.

Europe has a chance, now, at creating a different Libya, one with which business can be done, and which will hopefully be no more a danger/embarrasment just out in our home’s garden.

Gabriele
Gabriele
March 19, 2011 1:04 pm

Also, i don’t know what Germany can really do in Afghanistan.
Deploy more combat troops? Long time, high cost, high risk.
Deploy more Tornado to relieve the air forces of the Uk and company…? This too might take time. Germany’s Tornadoes in theatre so far only do RECCE, no shooting, if i recall correctly.
To be of any use, Germany would have to allow its air force to do attack missions as well.

I think Germany screwed up on this one.

McZ
McZ
March 19, 2011 3:19 pm

Regarding the “smart” german decision: Mrs Merkel needs to survive the next regional election (three in the next two weeks). Her campaign is going down the toilet due to her nuclear power policy.

The german gov shows a pretty poor picture by getting a non-permanent seat on the UNSC and then not being able to find a clear statement.

The franco-german political alliance is relegated to second line by Sarkozy, who is anglophile. As soon, as a new government is in power, this will certainly shift back.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 3:24 pm

Eaun;

Last I heard, we had around 3 of our own E3D Sentry’s scoping out Libya from Cyprus, not the NATO ac.

I too am not sure about this, already the French have had Rafales (from mainland france, not their flat-top tub) have already done one or more CAP’s over Libya…and a MiG-23 has been shot down over Bengazi…all dramatic stuff.

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
March 19, 2011 3:57 pm

In the light of Michael (ex-DIS)’s info about Iraq, why did our Gov. push for a UN resolution to allow everyone to intervene?

Fine, Gaddafi is a nasty piece of work & everyone has wanted to give him a kicking for ages for all of the things he’s been involved in but why are we going to pick sides in this thing & actively help people who went to Iraq on Jihad?

I don’t care who you are, that does not make sense!

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
March 19, 2011 4:07 pm

One other thing, it’s probably obvious to you all already……but we are once again taking military action while cutting defence capabilities, personnel & the budget.

Aren’t this Gov. doing exactly what the last Gov. did?

Foxbat
Foxbat
March 19, 2011 5:00 pm

Michael (Civ.):

Aren’t this Gov. doing exactly what the last Gov. did?

And the government before that and the one before that and so on. I can’t think of a government since the end of the Second World War that has not cut defence capabilities at the same time as taking military action in various different locations.

DominicJ
March 19, 2011 5:05 pm

Michael
Maybe we’re calculating that if we bail out the Bengazi, they might appreciate it enough to stop volunteering and stop anyone else who tries to.
Its not like more libyans are going to jump up and go.

Probably not a line of thinking I’d pursue, but there is thinking at least

Sunny Dave
Sunny Dave
March 19, 2011 5:16 pm

Gentlemen, like it or not there are going to be Western deaths attached to this little adventure. These will fall into two categories, the poor sods that “Dave” has sent by air or as intelligence gathers on the ground, and the second will the Jihad backlash against the west.

Looking at the capabilities binned as part of the SDSR it is blindingly obvious that in 18 months time the political classes (and dont get me wrong the last lot are not fit to be members of the human race in my book) would have flapped their gums, come to the same conclusion, and the services would then be in an even worse condition to carry out their political masters desires and return safely.

The problem is not the UK services or the equipment (I work for a death peddling outfit so I do have a clue) but the blindingly obvious fact that politicians have no moral fibre to say “ I want to help but I am not willing to pay for the capability to get involved”

The UK needs to makes it mind up across all the parties that, this is what we want to do in the world and not “I want to be Mr big shot” and then, when they have that worked out, fix it for 7-10 years so you can have a plan with a usable timefence. Work out the cost, not a cost down model a real one with contingency in case you need something through UOR, and FUND IT. If its 2.167% of GDP or whatever tough, find the cash. Go out and sort DE&S once and for all, or what ever they are calling themselves this week, kick, drag, evict, the elements that are known to play games with budgets, and put in a performance culture that is accountable over a 7-10 year period.

Learn to say I want that, with these killing bits attached, on the 1/1/xxxx put some liquidated damages in the contract then SOD OFF and let the contractor deliver. A lot of risk on contracts is added because 1. you know the MoD affordability figures are guesswork & 2. you know what is wanted day 1 is not what is contracted for so you have to protect your business from taking a bath. If you were dealing with someone who it there for more than 5 minuets, is accountable and has a clue you could take a fair bit out of the price.

In simple terms the problem lives in Whitehall & the palace of Westminster, the tricky bit is how do
we sort these buggers out, and ensure the services are resourced to support the grand strategy and not forever chasing pennies to pay for capabilities they cant afford any more.

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 5:26 pm

Hmm! the French have started blowing shit up.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 6:12 pm

To echo Euan’s update, I’ve been told that Al Jazeera has quoted a source saying French War planes have destroyed 4 tanks south west of Benghazi

Kinda streatching the ‘no-fly’ part of the rsolution? Or is this with SF marking the targets or what?

Like TD said,more questions than there are answers, if we do hit land targets as part of the mandate, then the Tornado would be good with its Brimestone warload. But, I would think its streatching the original idea of getting rid of the air elements, not giving the protestors CAS.

Confused :/

Mark
Mark
March 19, 2011 6:40 pm

Mike

Listening to the people on the TV the UN resolution allows more than a no fly zone indeed we can do pretty much any thing to protect the civil population bar a ground invasion and occupation.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 6:48 pm

Richard S and Tony,

Be interesting to see later on, whether that downed Flogger was hit by some of the stuff the Egyptians are now shipping over the border, or whether it was in fact Rafale’s first A2A though the French haven’t said so. Something got her — as Richard said the timing was a little unfortunate even for the very-bog standard of Gaddafist ground maintenance.

John Hartley,

All good thoughts, I’m even willing (as a pretty staunch if eccentric sort of lefty) to go with deep drilling in the short-to-medium to help keep domestic oil supplies more secure. Sentinel is one of the most valuable things the RAF flies along with its transports and knackered old F3 (such a long patrol time would be useful now.) Cutting it is more proof of the service being hijacked by a “fighter mafia” American-style, like the Nimrod fiasco (and no replacement), possible loss of R1 if cuts keep biting, drop in A400M buy, etc. Yes these are cost driven but good God look at the galloping fiasco of Typhoon costs. Absolutely should have gotten a British license-build on Harrier II+. Lots of conversations would have been very different for the last 25 years.

DominicJ,

I think that’s exactly part of the thinking. And I think the French mandarins have got as far as helping get all these economies up on their feet so there’s less immigration and more French companies with feet in the door of a cheap labour market in the process.

Michael (Civ.) and Foxbat,

And here we have one of the two fundamental contradictions in British policy since, well, 1918 really, forget 1945. The other one is running down “expensive” domestic industry to protect the banking/financial sector and thinking the public fisc can still get blood from a stone (esp. when it’s taking what it can get from the healthy sectors to buy quiet from the un/underemployed with welfare.) And the third (bring in the comfy chair!) is the irrational intra-governmental power of HMT. No one except maybe the Germans have a treasury that ridiculously powerful, and they have other economic virtues.

Mike,

The full resolution’s much more than no-fly, it’s “protect civilians, but not with an occupation force.” And that last part is really the exit strategy that Quai d’Orsay and Obama’s folk were smart enough to insist on — we have no mandate to hang around putting sticking plasters on your violent body politic once we’re done breaking Gaddafi’s stuff and killing him, so we won’t. It’s actually a sensible place from which to start, but since no plan survives first contact we’ll see where it goes from here.

Euan,

The French are indeed blowing shit up. On les aura, guys. I’ve already said it but the French really want this as a coming-out party for France as Europe’s indispensible nation. (And yes I’d like everybody to think about who strange and awkward that would sound if Brussels actually took its brief seriously, instead of being a Holy Roman Empire structure for the German economy and French nationalism.)

Alex
Alex
March 19, 2011 7:01 pm

The rebels have claimed the MiG-23 kill, if “claim” is the right word for an own goal.

L’avion de chasse abattu samedi au-dessus de Benghazi, était un appareil des insurgés et a été touché “par erreur”, a déclaré Azeldine al Charif, un militant de l’opposition. “Il n’y a pas de communication au sol”, a expliqué Charif, dirigeant de la British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign.

Apparently the French have deployed 20-odd aircraft so far, with an E-3, 4x Rafale and 2x Mirage 2000D being over Libya at the moment.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 7:02 pm

Jackstaff,

Indeed, the media using the term ‘no fly zone’ implies just the swatting of jets…not the tank plinking and such…
It’d interesting how it goes when the RAF come on scene, and the others…

This episode I just pray, will remind Cameroon how inportant it is to have a healthy RAF, as it they whos gonna match his words with action, and may have to for a while… whilst retaining commitments elsewhere.
Ditto with a healthy RN and logistics/support structure.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 7:06 pm

Alex;

I read that the MiG-23 was actually a rebel aircraft shot down by Gadaffi’s forces? O_o

Also we have our own E3’s snooping around from Cyprus.

lol the fog! It approaches… I think for now its best to watch and disseminate how it goes.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 7:10 pm

Mike,

“lol the fog! It approaches…”

Truer words, truer words.

x
x
March 19, 2011 7:13 pm

I knew it was serious when Sky rolled out Francis Tusa; it ain’t a proper war without the Boy Fran.

I fell off my chair with laughter with all this talk of “it won’t affect the front line in A-stan.”

I wonder if the RAF will get there first air-to-air kill since WW2?

paul g
March 19, 2011 7:22 pm

right it’s bloody serious now delayed the rugby for an address, skating on thin ice messing about with my rugby!!

oh and mike i think you mean remind him he needs all 3 services to be healthy!

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 7:27 pm

Paul,

Amen!
Yep… though Afghan has ensured the Army be pretty Sierra Hotel at what it does!

Word is the US has 3 or so subs with cruise missiles…and the Danish apparently sending some ’16s, its deffo warming up to the boil now, with the french carrier due to arrive in the Med tomorrow.

“This was the day when the patience of the international community with Colonel Gaddafi finally snapped” And the first to slap Gadaffi was Frenchman Sarcozy! lol perhaps stood on a box…

Alex
Alex
March 19, 2011 7:28 pm

French mini-airpower summary: 1x E-3, 8x Rafale (4 in air-air, 2 in recce, 2 in strike config), 2x M2000D (2 seat, strike version), 2x M2000-5 (i.e. air-air), 6x C-135FR (tankers) one “aircraft from another country”.

Alex
Alex
March 19, 2011 7:32 pm

CdG due in area of ops tomorrow, with 1x Lafayette AAW frigate, 1x ASW frigate, and a tanker. 2 French frigates already there. CAG consists of 1 Rafale flottile, 1 Super Etendard flottile, E-2Cs and plane guard/CSAR helis.

Anyone know how big a Marine Nationale air “flotilla” is?

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 7:39 pm

X, I think the RAF might try and get some Air to air kills but it’s highly doubtful I would say as you would be pretty stupid to go up against a Eurofighter or Rafale with AWACS support.

Mike the yanks have USS Florida somewhere in the med, or at least she was when she visited Italy a week or so ago. USS Florida is a converted Ohio class that carries 154 TLAM in vertical silos as well as extensive special forces support and IIRC she was carrying a dry deck shelter when she was photographed.

Alex, thanks for the information. AFAIK the CdG will probably deploy with around a dozen Rafale and a dozen or more Super Etendard the same as when she has deployed before to the Indian Ocean. A ‘flottile’ I would imagine is a typical squadron of around 12-14 aircraft. I would also guess that the one foreign aircraft could well be a Nimrod R1 to provide the French with a ELINT support capability with better capabilities than their Atlantiques.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 7:47 pm

paul g,

Ref: rugby, amen. Getting it with less faff on BBC Americas out here, not so great if you’re an England fan though I have a couple of old friends from the Province who’ll be smiling. Even Italy’s won this year, up is down, dogs and cats living together ….

Euan,

Bang on with SSGNs, no wonder at all the USN parked one there and are already mulling over a next generation of cruise. Sod F35 to the bank and back: the real future of “first-day” SEAD is integrated EW, decoys and feints, and then levelling your emergent targets with SSGN “arsenal ships.” Also right on CdeG. Let’s hope her turbines play nice, be a shame to lose her when she’s in full flow b/c of the sortie rate.

Mike,

He probably did stand on a chair. Beware short French leaders, they’re often as dangerous as Russian leaders with hair (Lenin had the beard so it counts.)

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 7:49 pm

Jackstaff just reported on BBC news that they have just been informed of TLAM strikes in Libya. I wonder if that is the USS Florida opening up or one of the other subs reported to be in the area.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 8:02 pm

Euan,

Yup catching it on Overseas Auntie, CNN, CBC, all the usual suspects. Lockheed Martin taking it in the pants as we speak. TLAMs and Storm Shadow first on menu.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 8:26 pm

Anyone round Barrow in the next week buy one for the Babcock boys — British SSN(s?) in on the volley. Like we’ve said before, if you absolutely need to give someone a bollocking overnight, dial an SS(G)N….

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 8:30 pm

Yeah Jackstaff, Holy Fluck 110 maybe 112 TLAM in the one go from a variety of sources including a Royal Navy SSN (Singular I would imagine). That’s going to hurt in the morning for sure especially as it’s likely to be crawling with coalition airpower not allowing them a chance to breath.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 8:40 pm

Euan,

Doing our usual fag-packet maths on an after-Astute (Britannia-class? If you sell the LPDs for more versatile phibs I rather like Bulwark-class ’cause they would be) that are basically Astutes with 8 big tubes in twin rows, then you can figure a dozen cruise through the torpedo tubes, and ability to get 7-8 in flex tubes when the boat’s not assigned to deterrent duty. That’s 68-76 TLAMs in one go from someone flying the White Ensign (well, more likely the Jolly Roger at that point, it may not be a sinking but it ought to count.)

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 8:40 pm

Anyone thinking it may turn out like the Gulf I? I mean, in terms of the amount of air and sea power being used… its pretty large and growing by the hour it seems.

As we speak, US, UK, Italian, French and Canadian aircraft are out there, along with the already commented naval assets, Heard that Frigates are also unleashing or watching close by the coast.
But with the state TV talking about ‘Crusader Enemies’.. gotta be careful.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 8:41 pm

That’s 7-8 in flex tubes per each ballistic tube. Seems to be current plans based on the Ohios’ SSGN mod, YMMV.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 8:48 pm

Mike,

At the very least like Kosovo and possibly more like the Gulf — hopefully very like the Gulf in a useful way with the Arab League doing that thing they do, namely writing checks to the folks who make things go boom. Gaddafi’s lot will talk the full talk, put unarmed loyalists in sensitive places to try and gin up war crimes, etc. The difficulty of doing an operation where they see you coming means it will look more like early days in the Stan than, say, the Israelis’ “Spring of Youth” mission in early ’73 (boat hard men into Beruit harbour in the middle of the night, kill the enemy leadership of your choice, go home.) But the point here is winning in the end, so that there’s a counter-narrative from all those rebels about how bad forty years of the Colonel was compared to a few days/weeks of “crusaders” blowing stuff up. The doughty Danes should show up soon too, and the Dutch when someone tells them what’s needed (as someone else said, their KDC-10s would be best for starters. That and a Zeven Provincien-class or two for radar/AAW cover offshore.) I think everyone in Paris would very much like it to turn out like the Gulf (overwhelming air and naval, lots of Saudi/Gulf states dosh) with the added benefit of local poor bloody infantry.

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 8:53 pm

Jackstaff, do you mean a next generation attack sub or the next generation of ballistic missile submarine? It’s unlikely to happen although if we could go back it would be nice to have included vertical silos in the bow like the Virginia class or late block Los Angeles class. I personally in fantasy land would like to see a flexible next generation SSBN with a class of 4 we should be able to arm one with cruise missiles and surge it when needed while maintaining one on patrol.

Mike it’s quite like GW1 with the use of naval and air power but also could turn out like the Balkans with air power and missiles strikes being not as effective as we would like. However on the flip side NATO mainly the US could possibly establish UAV’s orbits above areas of interest to strike anything that appears. Or at least pass on huge amounts of useful intelligence to the rebels and anyone else against the current leadership.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 8:57 pm

Indeed, the hammering is more on the GulfI and II stakes, I dont think his forces are good enough to escape or handle it like some of the Serbian forces did in Kosovo.

Lots of talk about how we are hitting things that’ll effect the people…but in the end its going to make Gadaffi and his stooges very concerned about where they are going to sleep…and make those mercinaries and loyalists think again.

Apparently, rebels are helping co-ordinate these strikes, which is good to hear, though still no Arab state contributing yet, though I’ve heard the Saudi’s have had a lot of air movements wih their E3’s and RE3’s.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 9:00 pm

Euan;

Good point with the UAV support! Interesting… what is the available UAV types that can be launched from sea? Never really heard or read about that.

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 9:12 pm

Mike, Agreed about the Libyans probably not being as good at surviving the air and missile strikes but it depends on our intelligence and in what stage of mobilisation the Libyan armed forces are at. In regards to UAV’s there are not many that can be launched from sea but I do believe that the US Navy does have Scan Eagle on some of its destroyers that could fly around the coastal areas. The US marines have also launched some smaller fixed wing UAV’s off of ships in the past the specifics models escape my memory at present.

More likely to be used and already mentioned by the USN Vice. Admiral is Global Hawk which will be doing bomb damage assessment alongside other surveillance and intelligence gathering. Predator and reaper would be ideal but I would think they are reasonably well tied up over Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 10:10 pm

Euan,

I mostly meant that, in a world where a lick of sense could be found, those two sub classes would in fact be the same boat. Build 6-8, have one batch rotating on deterrent duty, one batch rotating an SSGN as APT-South (covering three cotinents, basically: sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and the rim of Antarctica, for when various nations decide to stop just doing scientific work there in the next 25-30 years.) Let the Astutes work the carrier groups.

I think you’re right about the assets.

Mike,

Yes, definitely making people nervous about where to sleep. With the Americans so involved in the planning it’s all about “OODA loops” and what they feel they’ve learned from what were essentially military manhunts (OBL, Hussein & sons, insurgent-leader flavours of the month) for the last decade. Here, with defined targets and the opportunity to do the only kind of insurgency-related work that pans out — taking the winnable side in a two-sided civil war — that experience could be very useful.

paul g
March 19, 2011 10:32 pm

‘kin hell was i the only one that wasn’t expecting that!! over 100 surprise surprise saturday night specials! Seeing as we were all talking about a few fly overs yesterday, can we still rule out a ground force, abliet even just to set up a neutral zone for a field hospital/observers.
2 things that worry me is that donkey felching madman has promised a lockerbie 2 on anyone who attacks libya and also there’s a chuffing big march in london on saturday by unite and students how easy would it be to infiltrate that and cause mayhem. Me if i was PM i’d get that march banned ASAP. Hey ho watching the 24hr news is going to be interesting for the next few weeks.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 10:37 pm

UAE and Qatar have reportedly offered aircraft (UAE 27 or so airframes) – I feel a bit easier now that we (may) have arab nations also on the fighting line.

This experiance will definatly help, so will our past experiance too.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 10:43 pm

Mike,

Quite right — Britain damn near invented the “military manhunt,” as I put it. And the UAE has 1) been working to build an actually-credible air force more or less since 1991 (seeing that they were in Iran’s firing line as much as Kuwait was in Iraq’s) and 2) done much of it partnering with Les Froggies.

paul g,

Interesting indeed. And at the risk of sounding cold-blooded on one hand (the other is my civil-liberties self which says, that’s what makes us the good guys when we do it right) better to let Gaddafi try mischief-making wrt the march and such because it puts him back in the villain role rather than the “heroic resister” bollocks. If he tries the whole Scuds-at-Toulon thing, though, I think he’ll find what happens when your name isn’t England or Germany and you piss off the French ….

Euan
Euan
March 19, 2011 11:00 pm

Jackstaff, Again in fantasy land or a land with sense I would like to see 12 Astute class alongside 4 next generation SSBN’s. However 8 Astute class coupled with a class of 8 hybrid attack missile subs would be an option however there are as always problems especially trying to incorporate the differing roles. It would depend how much it costs over and above standard build and equipment costs to make a sub capable of performing a nuclear mission then there is also the political angle.

Paul, I had thought that it could happen when I found out last week that USS Florida was visiting Italy presumably to load up on food and supplies as well as Special Forces and their equipment. Still seeing or hearing it on the news is still pretty impressive especially with all the talk of a reactive policy in regards to military action. I agree with Jackstaff’s latest comment I would let the march go ahead as trying to ban it or restrict it would be a huge mistake politically and if something does happen then it happens.

I think it’s good that the UAE is willing to join in especially as they are one of the better trained and equipped armed forces in the gulf region and from a military technology point of view it’ll be good to see the F-16 Block 60 at work.

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
March 19, 2011 11:03 pm

As you say, i definatly wasn’t expecting that!

Aircraft & 110 missiles in the first wave, i bet the Libyans were not expecting that at all, along with everyone else.

According to Wikipedia he has lots of Tanks & loads of Artillery, inc. Frog-7 & SCUB-B missiles. Wonder if that’s what the cruise missiles were targeted at…..it would make sense to make sure they can’t be used in retaliation.

Mike
Mike
March 19, 2011 11:37 pm

Jackstaff and Michael,

Would then, be a similar hunt for these frog/scud missiles?
Very likely they were the first to go…the french did say airial recon was conducted of ‘all of Libya’ – I hope so, since Gadaffi could be one of the type to follow in sadmans example of lobbng missiles to try and muddy the waters, I really hope that isn’t the case.

Euan;

Ditto on their F-16’s,… but I think its also more of the credibility…you cant really call fellow arabs ‘crusaders’ ;)

Its been reported whole sections of the government forces have defected to the rebels… all sketchy, that fog I commented on is well and truely overhead now, but any news like that is just what the planners of this campaign wanted.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 19, 2011 11:52 pm

Mike,

Right in one. And the French with their almost-colony in Chad are well placed to deal with that sort of thing. Us rosbifs can make all the jokes we want abt the French armed forces, but having 1er RPIMa or some other bit of French SF show up at your pissant little missile campsite in the Libyan south where the supply trucks never send enough ciggies with sharp knives and unforgiving hearts can really ruin your night ….

And credibility’s exactly it, that was the magic of the RSAF in Gulf 91. I’d like to see the Omanis along for the ride too, get those Jaguars out of the boneyard and do some work.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 20, 2011 12:04 am

Odds and sods,

I’ve been combing the French MoD site with my fractured school French: they have Forbin and Jean Bart in the Libyan littoral now (new and old-model AAW destroyers) which seems in line with those folks who’ve suggested mopping up the coastal NFZ (especially rotary stuff) with offshore AAW surveillance. Of course putting them well forward also baits what’s left of Gaddafi’s strike capability (missiles, FAC, planes) to come play rather than hide, and could cover any raiding ashore. Wonder if this will encourage the French to just build a third Horizon so there’s two to go with CdeG on her occasional rambles rather than the “AAW FREMM” kitbash.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 20, 2011 12:05 am

Odds and sods wrt information, that is, not commenters. I’ve been called both but wouldn’t do so in turn.

Mike
Mike
March 20, 2011 12:08 am

Jackstaff,

Amen! And ditto on the Jags… flat sandy environments was what it lives for.

And that has got me thinking, I do hope your idea of their SF lads on its southern border, since little has been revealed at our plan for that part of the country… though if this ‘shock and awe’ style works along with the freezing of his funds and take over of oil facilities by the rebels, the number of, and money for, willing mercinaries should dwindle… even better if we could Chad onbourd to beef it up.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 20, 2011 2:17 am

Boss,

Robert was right, from the start, but since they’re after fixed sites right now b/c of their long range, Moammar obliged years ago by putting them at some distance from potentially rebellious plebs. And why the first thing he bombed in Benghazi (or tried to) was a cache of MANPADS. He’ll parade dead and wounded even if he has to do the job himself ….

As a sidebar, since I’ve been talking up French policy nous, *this* is how to do public relations for a weapons system you want to have when you have Franco-American refueling all the way there:

(from CNN)
[9:20 p.m. ET, 3:20 a.m. in Libya] Britain’s Royal Air Force the RAF has launched Stormshadow missiles from a number of Tornado GR4 fast jets as part of a series of coordinated coalition strikes against Libya, the Ministry of Defense said.

“We made clear that if Gaddafi did not comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, it would be enforced through military action. Our Armed Forces have therefore participated in a co-ordinated international coalition strike against key military installations,” defense secretary Liam Fox said in a statement.

“The fast jets flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham and back making this the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict,” he said. “HMS Westminster is off the coast of Libya and HMS Cumberland is in the region ready to support operations. Typhoon aircraft are also standing by to provide support.”

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 20, 2011 2:18 am

That should’ve read “want to save” instead of “want to have.” Even with the time difference it’s getting late.

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 20, 2011 3:43 am

One more, ruminative, thing for the night that I guess belongs better here than somewhere else. It’s interesting to go round various nations’ news feeds and see the hate-the-West commenters out (yes the West is run by a bunch of oligarchies these days but really, rooting for Gaddafi?) and to go to several, especially American, security blogs and see the grumpy conservative hawks’ sour opinions (“do-gooder wars”, what’ll it do to Israel, etc.) Interesting to watch the extremes retreat into their “isms,” because they need to. Because this whole unexpected Arab Spring thing is *actual* change, the messy, can’t reference what just came before, don’t have a roadmap kind. The sort that, 1989 and 9/11 aside, the West especially has mostly avoided since the Sixties petered out (and I’d argue that, among other things, the Sixties quietly kick-started the latest historical round of radical Islam. Just took until Iran and Sadat’s death to really notice.) I understand them, and the nerves or ambivalence of many people of all backgrounds and persuasions in this kind of historical “moment.” We most of us haven’t done it much — 1989 was “you mean we won without nukes? Ace,” and 9/11 was “let’s get the bastards,” fairly simple-minded each. Now our dads and granddads, basically all the folks who lived from around the Enlightenment to 1945 saw a lot more of it, and sort of got accustomed. Us, even though we talk about absorbing technological (especially telecommunications) change and a slow, messy expansion of social tolerance, this sort of change in political cultures and ideas and who’s capped to play for Us vs. Them like this, it’s more of a stretch. Maybe it’s one of the reasons the French are better at this policy-wise, they’ve had more than a usual number of ups and downs in their time. Britons? Mostly winning and being a bit smug about it or losing and brooding about it far too long. Germans? Let’s just say change was not their friend 1918-45 and they are not really at home to Mr. Change. The Yanks and Russians are good at being themselves, for better and often worse, no matter what. Interesting to see where this (and I don’t just mean chocks away in Libya) goes.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 7:41 am

Hi jackstaff,

RE”Because this whole unexpected Arab Spring thing is *actual* change”
– I would rate it (as one, rather than what it looks like – a light dusting across almost a dozen countries) as one of the three most important changes in the Middle East and N. Africa since 1973
– 1973 set a new direction for Egypt which is the “hinge” around which both parts of the region then move and (for other reasons, too) is arguably the most important Arab nation
– the Shah’s overthrow not only set a new direction for the country, but without those events the Sunni/ Shia business would still only be simmering on a slow boil rather than destabilizing the whole Islamic “half moon” crescent
– so “what’s” a couple of Oil Crises or a couple of Gulf Wars, when rated for their long term, lasting effects? However, the region’s history demonstrates that revolutions often result in new or renewed forms of despotism (but they have been country-by-country, rather than now fuelled by economic factors driven by explosive demographic trends). There’s the promise – for good or bad, we don’t know yet

DominicJ
March 20, 2011 8:16 am

ner ner ner ner :p

i just dont get how no one saw this coming….

Although i admit, the scale was beyond what i expected

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 20, 2011 9:55 am

Yet more random thoughts.
HMS Daring is not yet fitted with enough weapons to be combat ready, but its all singing radars might be handy for co ordinating allied action. At least a chance to try them “for real”.
I still think the UK needs 18 RN CSAR folding Merlins. Ideal for rescuing downed pilots.
I hope the “Arab Spring” leads to liberal democracy, but fear it will end up in a Shia/Sunni civil war.
If that is the case, Britain had better become as energy independent as possible. So deeper oil/gas rigs, nuclear & clean coal plants, methane/natural gas recovery from cattle farms/sewage works/composting schemes.
A Swiss style referendum on limiting the numbers of non European asylum seekers. Asylum only for the innocent, not the guilty.

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 20, 2011 10:00 am

Dear TD
I wanted the Nimrod MRA4 to carry Storm Shadow for long range strike. Sadly that option is gone.
I am curious if naval Merlins could carry/launch a Storm Shadow.
I appear to be alone in wanting Britain to join the USAF regional bomber program. British industry needs the next project. I think its extra range is needed to replace the Tornado GR4.

IXION
IXION
March 20, 2011 10:19 am

JH

TD’s house TD’d rules, but from a personal veiw point Can we leave of the anti asylum seeker stuff, this sis a defence blog. If you want to get into that there are other venues.

Energy independance very good idea, Likewise I for one regretted the change in agricultural policy in the 80’s away from food independance.

I do not know if you are alone about the new bomber, But the F35, was initally proposed as using current technology to be cheaper than a new F16…. Just like the new bomber…

From my perspective some VERY warm places will freeze over before I would be supportive of getting involved at any partner level with a US aircraft program for a very long time!

IXION
IXION
March 20, 2011 10:21 am

TD

Yep but it’s all we got.

S O
S O
March 20, 2011 10:31 am

“Cast your mind back a few days when Robert Gates said to everyone calm down a bit, to do a no fly zone you are going to need to destroy Libyan air defences before you start. To which Liam Fox and plenty of other grown ups said no, we can do it other ways

Over 100 cruise missiles later, i would say Robert was right after all”

No he wasn’t. The SAM sites are unproblematic in regard to protecting the civilians against air attack. You can fly defensive CAP instead of offensive CAP. AMRAAM has enough range and those SAMs are no S-300s.

Taking out SAM sites was only (slightly) useful if offensive actions were planned. They’re now bombing the loyalist ground forces – not the same as the originally proposed NFZ.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 10:48 am

Hi JH,

Many valid thoughts… On this one “I still think the UK needs 18 RN CSAR folding Merlins. Ideal for rescuing downed pilots.” I agree that there is definitely a capability gap there
– I can’t quote a source straight away, but it would be sobering to have a look at what the US(MC, I think, mostly) send out on such missions

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 10:56 am

Hi TD,
RE “Does anyone else think a GR4 is not necessarily the most cost effective means of delivering a pair of Storm Shadows?”
– what other use we have for them? Plus we have lots of trained pilots, unlike for Ground Attack with Typhoons
– back to the sunk costs as a decision parameter (it only costs the fuel + 2 x 800k for the Shadows, or some incredible number of Brimstones for smaller targets, is it 16 x 80k)
– we also have (can still be changed) an end date for the use of that missile bus, so the question is really ” what then” – especially in the light of limited Typhoon numbers

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 11:05 am

This “You can fly defensive CAP instead of offensive CAP. AMRAAM has enough range and those SAMs are no S-300s” is what I have been saying all along
– but the overall situation has changed dramatically, including the consolidation of Gaddafi’s grip on the western half of the country… surprise, surprise, most of the targets have been there (and Sirte, which sits in the middle)
– a little bit of demonstrative strafing around Benghazi (a morale booster),too, but mainly sending the message that if need be, all of the heavy forces can be (now) blown up at will

I would still like to know why Gaddafi’s private jet did the round trip to Jordan? Not exactly one of those countries that he could count on – but a safe haven negotiated by the “West” and at least initially offered by Jordan
=> quickest possible end to the bloodshed (otherwise, even with Gaddafi gone there might be the slippery slope to tribal warfare, if the grudges get to be too deep)

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 20, 2011 11:16 am

IXION
I have no desire to go down the BNP route, but I do not see why Britain should not copy the measures that other European nations are taking.

IXION
IXION
March 20, 2011 11:49 am

JH

One of the problems with having an interrest in the defence of the realm and a belief that modern britain does not take it seriously enough; is that to certain people it qualifies you as either a Gun Nut or a BNP supporter or both.

Such critics love to find stuff on the more serious blogs like this and start waiving it around to discredit our musings.

I do not disparage you or your political views (and may even share them) and I appologise if I gave that apeareance.

However I strongly believe that whilst criticising and administrations defence polcy/ whitehall incompentence, and industry cupidity, is one thing; straying off into party politics and areas of policy that are not unequivocaly defence, is another.

I myself contribute to other gropups on politics and stuff and have set the world to rights on many subjects(even cats, but when commenting on here (unless it is a bit of humour to help the day along) lets do what it says on the tin and:-

Think Defence.

IXION
IXION
March 20, 2011 12:18 pm

RE The whole ‘Arab Spring’ thing.

I am sure there will be much reviewing of this, much later but I would like to comment now on few things:-

1) There has been a shocking failure by SIS, GCHQ FO etc in particular, in Libya. This is a country we should bally well be keeping an eye on – got to be in the top 10 such countries and nobody seems to have seen it comming.

2) When it did happen it is pretty clear we were behind the curb on events for at least the first week or so.

3) Once it became clear that a core of armed forces were remaining loyal to Col G what happened next was straight out of the Ladybird book of revolutionary history.

The relativly well trained motivated forces with heavy equipment proceeded to beat up the larger, but untrained ill equiped ill lead mass of the revolution.

Note I have not criticised any decisions made by HMG (see below) just the lack of any intellegence about what was happening and an appreciation of where this was going.

If I may quote the Colonel in “Something Big” when adressing his cavalry scout

“Why don’t you know bookbinder, you are paid to know”

MI whatever and GCHQ are paid sh*tloads of money precisily to spot this kind of thing.

4) I applaud the efforts of the PM over the Un resolution, in practical terms it was done faster than I would have thought possible, and is stronger than I would have thought possible.

5)However between here and COl G leaving with a camel flea in his ear is a long dark twisty road with many dangerous drops on each side.

6) Purely from a British interrest point of view, was it wise to go after Col G from day one, rather than just shut up and remain nuetral? As I said once it became clear enough troops were loyal it was obvious the revolution was in trouble. Should we not have considered a ‘How to live with col G Stratagy’ We are expending more blood and treasure we don’t have, did we need too? Many of the ‘experts’ who are say of this will finish Col G soon were the same ones saying he was finished 2 weeks ago.

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 12:24 pm

I think this operation has shown the flexibility of both air and navy assets above anything else. I was very surprised but the scale of the initial strikes by any stretch over 100 tomahawks is a large amount. I was also surprised we fly mission from marham I honestly didnt think we had the capability to fly that length of mission any more. I would also draw attention to what the US Admiral said in relation to UAVs that they were not able to use them here because they cant be used in a non-permissive environment. This shows the folly of removing are manned assets like astor, shadow and reductions in awacs. These decisions must be reversed. Also we do need to maintain fast jet numbers. If they want to reduce squadron numbers to reduce admin then fine but increase the number of aircraft per squadron and maintaining the current levels of force elements at readiness is also vital.

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 1:04 pm

I would add one thing accord to the US african command US marine corp harriers flying from the Kearsarge attacked libya im surprised mr cameron allow that after all we dont need those pesky harriers any more.

Euan
Euan
March 20, 2011 3:10 pm

I agree with TD the RAF strike mission albeit rather impressive they managed to pull it off seems a bit pointless and wasteful but hey at least it’ll get the fast jet mafia some media coverage. Any of the RN SSN’s could do the same thing and already have but they don’t exactly get air time not that you could really put a sub on TV and make it look sexy. However I do wonder if we managed to pull that strike mission off alone or if the US and France provided additional tankerage to get us there and back if so then it’s less impressive in my opinion.

Jackstaff, Personally from a political viewpoint I would rather our leaders kept their mouths shut in the first place and I would rather not have gotten involved beyond the initial evacuating citizens etc. In the background I wouldn’t mind deniable operations against the Libyan leadership and providing intelligence to the rebel forces but no training or weapons like the Mujahideen got. However we are where we are and I only hope that this helps the armed forces case for not getting salami sliced into tiny little useless bits.

Ron
Ron
March 20, 2011 3:11 pm

Just seen Typhoons blasting off from Coningsby! Dunno if they are on a ferry mission to Cyprus but seemed loaded out with full A-A load. 2 tanks + 4 AMRAAMS + 4 ASRAAM. Looks to me that the Eurofighter is going to pop its cherry!

paul g
March 20, 2011 3:20 pm

i’m compelled to shout “whooo ya master chief” but that would childish!!!

paul g
March 20, 2011 3:23 pm

by the way hope the libyan MOD don’t read this site otherwise we’ve just given them a heads up on incoming in the next couple of hours!!!!

Ron
Ron
March 20, 2011 3:35 pm

BBC saying that Typhoons armed with ‘anti-tank missiles’ (assuming Brimstones) have already seen action. Dunno if the MOD has confirmed this yet or not but it seems we are seeing full spectrum operations from the RAF already.

paul g, I think the Libyans already know shit is flying in their direction! The smoke is still visible

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 3:50 pm

Euan

Storm shadow and tomahawk are complementary they are used against different targets and there is no other asset available to deliver them in this operation. If they needed to do it from marham thats another point (indeed when was the last time a UK aircraft flew from a UK base to attack another country and then come back without landing anywhere?) but im sure politically it would have been difficult to start deploying aircraft prior to a un resolution being passed not an issue to the same extent with naval forces as its easier to keep that away from prying eyes.

Mike
Mike
March 20, 2011 3:52 pm

Euan,

I think it has a similar effect the ’82 Black Buck missions had… to proove to freind and foe we can reach targets at length.
The tornado mission was a ‘knee jerk reaction’ I think, to the french bombings, we obviously wanted to go in *now* rather than wait for the available bases to open up and be readied (takes a couple of days that, as the Canadians are finding out).
I think we managed it alone, but Spain did offer tankers earlier on, well placed to give support to the tonkas.

I doubt the typhoon has started tank plinking just yet…it isn’t brimstone cleared yet surely?
Either way, this marks its first ‘anger’ deployment.

The Arab league isn’t impressed though, so perhaps their backing may change? I hope not.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 4:35 pm

Hi Mark,

Yes, BUT ” I would also draw attention to what the US Admiral said in relation to UAVs that they were not able to use them here because they cant be used in a non-permissive environment”
– have you noticed Global Hawk in doing the damage assessment
– I hope, in due course, TD will post the “little brother” BAMS – an MPA surrogate – performance data on the relevant thread for its mission (not Libya)

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
March 20, 2011 4:38 pm

@TD

The advantage of using the GR4 or any aircraft (to my mind anyway), to fire missiles is that it can go back to base, be re-armed & then be sent to go hit a completely different target way away from the first one.

I think it’s probably at least as cost effective as fitting storm shadow (whatever other missile), to Navy ships or Equiping Subs to fire them.

@Mike.

Thinking of the planning involved, i bet those Tornado’s have been slated to do that bombing mission for a week or two now.

@everyone

I am not impressed by the mealy mouthed whinning coming from the Arab League now that the shooting has started. Also i think the fact that no Arab country took part in the first wave of strikes is going to have really serious negative consequences vis-a-vis the Arab street.

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 4:41 pm

ACC

Yes I have seen that he did mention in the same q and a that would be possible if the SA5 missiles were taken out first. And yes granted Global Hawk is a UAV but its a very expensive UAV (around 100m euro per system if you look at the german procurement) with significantly more capability than anything we currently have or indeed europe has.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 4:58 pm

Hi Mark,

All your points granted!

It is a pity that even the USA is too poor to keep the SR-71s flying.

I will now move on to the Maritime Domain for this discussion ( assuming the low-priced UAVs won’t turn up and start shooting up tanks… then I’ll be back!)

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
March 20, 2011 4:59 pm

X, “I wonder if the RAF will get there first air-to-air kill since WW2?”

Not quite true, what about the RAF Jaguar shot down by an RAF Phantom, 25th May 1982?

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1983/1983%20-%200123.html

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 5:01 pm

BTW, the Germans were v upset abt the Franch not sharing their satellite data, and “only” the UK having the privileged access to intel…
– so they decided to buy some of the Global Hawks, as they are not interested to stay on top of EVERYTHING on this globe, just what affects them

Euan
Euan
March 20, 2011 5:02 pm

Mark, I realise that TLAM and Storm Shadow are complementary especially Storm Shadow with its BROACH warhead that could be used on target with better physical protection but the French could take care of them. As for pre-deploying aircraft well it may be difficult politically but if there is support in the house then the RAF could have pre-deployed quietly and if nothing came of it call it a training exercise.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 5:08 pm

typos… make that ” abt the French not sharing their satellite data, and “only” the UK having the privileged access to [US] intel”

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 5:10 pm

Euan Im not sure that storm shadow (not sure what its called in french service) is fully operational with the French air force yet. But your last point is well made however with media camped outside each base with fast jets it becomes more difficult.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 20, 2011 5:10 pm

Hi Euan,

RE “the RAF could have pre-deployed quietly and if nothing came of it call it a training exercise”… how about
http://www.southern-mistral.cdaoa.fr/GB/ for that one?

Euan
Euan
March 20, 2011 5:30 pm

ACC thanks for that link interesting read, just skimmed it, would be bloody good cover for Op Ellamy seems rather convenient dosen’t it :) going to read the rest of it though.

Mark very good point about the media camped outside the bases but frankly they should have been told to keep it quiet for a while and the RAF could have done it at night and done the usual smoke screen. Also thanks to AAC we know there were exercises scheduled so if anyone had asked we could have said we are just going to play with the French as has been planned since whenever. In regards to Storm Shadow that would really surprise me if they were not fully operational with the French air force, maybe not fully operational on the Rafale.

El Sid
El Sid
March 20, 2011 5:52 pm

Too many comments to catch up with but on the Storm Shadow delivery thing – this would have been a perfect mission for the non-penetrating missile truck proposed for FOAS. Chuck a load of Shadows on an A400 or C130, and off you go.

Trouble with using Nimrod is that we only had 9 in the fleet, and they could probably only carry ??4?? Storm Shadow (I think they could manage 6 Harpoons, which are much smaller). Assume that the MAA has no longer grounded them, they’ve all been built and say 2/3 are available – that’s still only 24 Shadows heading for Tripoli.

It’s been a great advert for the Arsenal Ship concept (in revised underwater form) – as long as you don’t mind blowing up £50m in one go. It’s less of an issue for the SSGNs or Ticos, but the trouble with relying on SSNs and European-style frigates for your cruise missile platform is that you have a relatively small initial salvo and then replenishment is a real faff. Whereas a plane can keep going back for more for as long as the supply chain can keep delivering them. All platforms probably have their place though.

On the UAV thing – you can’t fly manned platforms in a non-permissive environment either! Although with current technology you have more chance of having enough range on your sensors to be further from the front line. Imagine though if they had some Flankers with these new 300km-range anti-AWACS missiles…

@Michael (Civ.) – some Tonkas were already due to go to France this week to practice long-range strike, the link’s been given here but see
Southern Mistral 11.

I suspect that the Typhoon “anti-tank missiles” are in fact Paveways on some Block 5’s, but I’m open to persuasion otherwise. Talking of that kind of thing… Anyone noticed that since we needed to lob Storm Shadow, Alarm and Brimstone around, Lord West and chums have been rather quiet on the need to keep Harrier and trash the Tornado? :-)) In fact so far this has been a textbook example of melding together different nations with capability plus in different areas – US SSGN (and allegedly B-2’s), UK ELINT and bombers and SSN Tomahawks, Frog carrier and fighters etc. OK, it’s all a bit muddling through, but so far it’s worked. So who cares if our T45’s don’t have sonar and the French are a bit light on bomb-carrying capacity, we’re all friends now, right? OK, don’t bank on it! :-)

Final thought – it would probably be a terrible strategic mistake for us to kill Gaddaffi. If we did, half the guests at the Royal Wedding will be rethinking their retirement plans. If the West can’t at least guarantee them seeing out their days on a sunny beach in proximity to a branch of a Swiss bank, then perhaps your average emir would be better off making friends with someone else like the Chinese?

El Sid
El Sid
March 20, 2011 5:55 pm

Hah, beat me to it on Southern Mistral 11. AIUI that’s a longstanding thing, it dates back to the entente announcement in the autumn, it’s just coincidence the way the timing worked out.

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 6:28 pm

El Sid

“On the UAV thing – you can’t fly manned platforms in a non-permissive environment either!”

Unless im mistaken the french jets were over libya prior to the air defence network being taken down and B2s yesterday and also US jets (including harrier) over libya today.

Mark
Mark
March 20, 2011 6:37 pm

TDm Fair point but where were the UAV flying yesterday for recon or strikes??

jackstaff
jackstaff
March 20, 2011 6:42 pm

IXION,

Nice one with the “Something Big” quote. Very nice. And entirely accurate.

And one clarifier on the actual revolt(on the “Ladybird book of revolutions” — again nice one — and esp. relevant with all the “Arab 1848” talk, that’s how it turned out in Hapsburg and Prussian territories.) I think that a number of folks, wrongly, thought that as in Romania in 1989, this would be the chance for the uniformed military, always a poor stepchild to the state-within-a-state security forces, plus some of the less-favoured flunkies, would seize the chance to keep their own goolies from the block and side with the rebels, ensuring success. This was quite wrong, even though it’s sort of happened, because the security apparatus bounced back with much greater effect. (We can probably thank the Cold War, and Warsaw Pact membership, for making the Romanian military strong enough to muscle over the Securitate. That’s irony for you.)

Various,

Yes it was an inefficient way to lug Storm Shadow around — El Sid’s quite right, if the RAF wants to get in on SEAD the fighter mafia approach is exactly the *wrong* way to go about it. Electronic warfare, decoys, them hammer the sites that pop up and shoot with FOAS missile trucks and SSN cruise. Just takes a moment to see that it’s significantly brighter than “chocks away and charge!” Especially since you can then fly extant types like Typhoon/Tonkas to much greater effect. But that’s a fighter-mafia mentality for you and it seems the RAF has been properly infected, like the USAF for many years.

El Sid,

Thanks for the SSGN advertisement, and the assessment of making ad hoc work. (It has, so far.) You need flat-tops for command hubs, at-sea/SLOC air cover (which will become an issue again I think), close air away from friends, etc. But you’re exactly right that subs, especially the big ones, aren’t just fleet-on-fleet capital ships anymore.

A terrible strategic mistake? Maybe. You’re quite right — and that was a great way to put it — that if enough other factors remain the same, it is. But between discreet Chinese muscling in abroad, the credit-bubble burst, the failure of a wide variety of states to do what states are supposed to do (you can even see it in very-efficient Japan as a private company completely botches a pretty straightforward reactor containment — sand, guys, the Russians figured it out, it’s not hard, you just don’t want public embarrassment — and the govt does likewise with caretaking of displaced persons), there’s a lot up in the air. Not clear the systems or the motives will be the same in ten years as they are now, and that’s a faster rate of change in IR than we’ve seen with anything but the Soviet collapse in a long time. And we can stay away from ideologies (as IXION probably wisely suggests) but still talk about the strategic effects of all that. The Arab League heming and hawing is part of that, I think. Some of it’s just what you say (the Royal Wedding line was priceless ’cause it’s true.) Some of it is having the veil finally ripped off the very old Sunni-Shia conflict (and the ethnic dimensions of the split, Arab-driven vs. Persian-driven and also the urbanized wild cards of Turkish and Egyptian presence in the Um’ma.) Some of it’s hunkering down by all the interested parties to protect investments (change is scary when you’re rich or politically well-established, or both.) But in this situation, much like Kosovo/Milosevic (and more than GW1/Saddam), the baseline issue is that Gaddafi does have to go or the whole Libyan situation will get massively worse. The longer he lasts the better the chances of degenerating to tribe-based sides, and killing enough people to make those into lasting grudges.

John Hartley
John Hartley
March 20, 2011 6:45 pm

IXION
American Presidents have to swear to defend their country from “all threats, foreign & domestic”.
Wish our PM & cabinet had to do the same thing.
9/11 & 7/7 have shown we can no longer turn a blind eye to threats within. I do not want extreme solutions, but do look to the measures taken by our European neighbours who are signed up to the same human rights as us.
There is no point our armed forces fighting threats thousands of miles away, if our open borders allow enemies with Kalasnikovs & IEDs on our High Streets.

jackstaff