Tags: AV-8B, EA-18G, Libya, TLAM
And so, yesterday it started in earnest. In what seems strangely like a mix of the immediate aftermath of DESERT STORM’s Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, DESERT FOX, with a whiff of the Suez Crisis thrown in – what in the USA we are calling Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, ELLAMY for the British, HARMATTAN for the French, and MOBILE for the Canadians in now underway.
We saw yesterday the launch of TLAM – both traditional and tactical TLAM – along with Anglo-French strike aircraft going after Libyan government positions to “shape the battlespace” for further operations. The Pentagon created slide below outlines the Maritime forces – but unfortunately leaves out one of the TLAM shooters, the SSN HMS TRIUMPH (click image for larger).
From the same Pentagon brief, the below slide shows we plan on a two-station No Fly Zone Libya (NFZ-L). So far it looks like it will be using land-based aircraft only. See the previous posts about those challenges – especially for any long-term presence.
Where did we strike? This should give you an idea.
A few things stand out for me. First is the USS FLORIDA SSGN, the mixed use of the Tactical TLAM, and the British use of their Anglo-French-Italian ALCM Stormshadow. Initial reports just mentioned French and British aircraft, but AFRICOM also reports that EA-18G made their combat appearance, and AV-8B Harriers aboard the USS KEARSARGE (LHD-3) participated in strikes. More information will follow as the day goes forward, I’m sure.
Also, until a Coalition Command is set up (!), from the Pentagon brief (watch it here), it seems that this is being run by Commander, Africa Command; General Ham with Admiral Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III apparently in Tactical Command with Joint Task Force ODYSSEY DAWN embarked USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20).
As a final thought for now, I want to return to VADM Gortney’s brief from the Pentagon where he stated that the initial strikes were done to “Create the conditions and shape the battlespace, partners can take the lead.”
Now that we are in, it begs a few questions.
1. Will the anti-Gadaffi forces be able to advance under Coalition top-cover?
2. Do our Coalition partners have the political, military, and financial ability to support a protracted NFZ-L? If partner nations start to fall out over time – when do we decide to remove our support, or do we plan to be the last nation standing, again?
3. As we have intervened in a civil war; what if any obligation do we have to prevent defeat of the rebels’ ground forces – or if their defeat is eminent – evacuate them and resettle with their families?
4. What is the diplomatic plan if the Gadaffi forces defeat the rebellion? According to The Telegraph CJCS Admiral Mullen stated,
Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the outcome of military action from the air was “very uncertain” and made it clear that Washington did not see the goal of Operation Odyssey Dawn as removing the Libyan leader from power.
Well, I can tell you that however you spell his name, Gadaffi thinks we are. The leaders of the rebellion thinks we are, and … errr …
Since military action was authorised, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, has said that the only logical conclusion to the military campaign was the removal of Col Gaddafi. David Cameron has also reiterated demands for the Libyan leader, who yesterday vowed a “long war”, to step down.
STRATCOM fail. Next.
5. If the rebellion succeeds, what are the Coalition’s obligation to prevent reprisal killings and tribal based score settling?
6. If the rebellion succeeds and the war on the ground becomes a series of human rights incidents, as is often the end game in civil wars (which we will have no control over as we have no forces on the ground), do we continue to give those forces top-cover to continue their human rights abuses?
7. If this is our basis for intervention, then what do we tell the leaders of uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, and other places?