On Monday on TheAtlantic.com I argued that the United States should assist rebel groups in Libya by sending food aid. This option would allow the U.S. to provide much needed supplies to the rebels while avoiding direct military involvement in the conflict. Interestingly, yesterday The Washington Post reported that Europe and the United Sates were considering some very similar to my proposal. Now my ego would like to believe I played some role that (rumored) plan, but we all know governments do not move that fast.

If true — and at this point that is a big if — the next question is how can the US and other states deliver the aid. Luckily, the provisional capitol of the rebels, Benghazi, has decent port facilities. Last week HMS Cumberland and a World Food Program ship both used the port, although the latter aborted a previous attempt due to reports of air strikes in the area.

The question I pose to USNI readers is this: If the US Navy was called upon to delivery food and other aid to rebel controlled areas in Libya, what would be the best way to go about it?

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy

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  • Bucherm

    Safest way would be to have some Marines establish a zone of control for chartered vessels/sealift ships to offload food and supplies. The problem with this is that it puts us on the ground and perhaps in direct conflict with Libya.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Isn’t this how Somalia ’91 began?

  • Matt Yankee

    Zero business in Libya unless someone is supporting Jihad…and East Libya is apparently famous for sending AQ fighters to our battle fields. Let Allah determine their fate. They certainly do not sympathize with Christians so lets not be squirrels about it.

  • Byron

    “Isn’t this how Somalia ’91 began?”


  • leesea

    MSC has MPSRON One is available to support HA missions in Libya. Although I do NOT know exactly where the ships are currently. The MPS have the capability to make water, to land medical facilities and support vehicles too.

    Also I would rather see relief mission performed on the Tunisian and Eqyptian sides of the borders. Staying out of Libya should be the overidding policy.

  • JackO

    What possible crazy dream makes people believe that the rebel forces will be on our side, even if we support them?
    Oh, you feel that if we don’t support them they will be anti_US?

    There is NO best way to deliver aid to rebel forces! Except, perhaps, dropping bales of $100 bills to the ground and seeing what happens!

    Probably do as much good !

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Just the same as this is how Somalia ’91 began.

    I have no appetite for it, because of IRQ and AFG.

    I am not looking for causation here. But, the reality is, that the reason why no one is rushing to assist (aside of the French and Brits) to assist the rebels in Libya, is the war weariness from IRQ and AFG.

    That, in my estimation, is a shame. But, a reality.

  • Mark Zenner

    It’s sad to say but as far as the middle east is concernd the only winning move is—Not to play.

  • LeastGuvmint

    So, YN2,

    I am confused. You don’t want to jump into the middle of a civil war in Libya and topple a brutal dictator who has killed thousands of his own people? Because we toppled a much more brutal dictator in Iraq who killed hundreds of thousands of his own people?

    Are you implying that we have a place choosing sides in this civil war, when five years ago, the term “civil war” in Iraq, however wrongly (and purposefully) applied, became the watchword for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US forces?

  • Eagle1

    Best answer: Turn the problem over to the Europeans. They are closer, have merchant ships, escorts and have more of an investment in the area.

    Of course, their record isn’t so good. See, e.g. Rwanda.

  • Jay

    Best solution – high speed ferries (or even slower, older multi-purpose small cargo vessels), from across the Med. We should stay out of this, but a good way to assist would be to offer USAID foodstuffs, and assist with fuel cost, let the Europeans handle security and distro.

  • GIMP

    First, inserting ourselves into the present internal conflict is foolish, dangerous, and arrogant. We Westerners have been a meddlesome lot for quite some time. Deciding that indigenous people world wide not only had no right to their lands, resources, or religions, but often, their lives. The saga continues. I would have thought we would have learned from the debables we’ve caused across the world that it rarely works out.

    Second, supposing we were to send food aid, heavy sealift to the nearest friendly port with airport facilities, then heavy airlift and air drops to Benghazi. It would be bad enough to ignore Libya’s sovereign waters, but to do it with slow ships is to invite attack. At least aircraft can get out of their own way and need not land. Pulling a ship pierside is asking for Lybia to sieze or attack it; and they could successfully argue they had every right to do it. Then where do we go? Ignore the attack, suck it up, and appear impotent? Retaliate, escalate, and make an internal conflict an international conflict? No really good options there.

    Maybe for once we could see ourselves out of others’ business.

  • Derrick

    Is it even possible to support rebels in Libya if it was already determined in a previous post that it’s impossible to enforce a no-fly zone?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Our dance card is full.

    Let NATO do it, they owe us for the Balkins.

  • JackO

    It would be like getting into a fight between two brothers, not solve anything, and getting pummelled for interfering.

    If the rebel forces can not overturn the government they need no help from outside forces, as the result is not worth the price.

    Tell me what you believe the solution would solve. You think there will be a democracy there?

    Why would you believe that?

  • Byron

    +100 for Grandpa!!!

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III


    It’s not what I want to do. It’s the psyche of the American people. I fully well know I was opening myself up to the angle you took. I said that as tongue in cheek for a reason.

    Regardless of the merits of previous conflicts, there is little appetitive left amongst the People, in Congress or in the DoD for another conflict like this.

    That said, as Grampa mentioned, there is NATO and the EU who’s yard this is in.

    Does the World even want another US led Coalition going into Libya? Methinks not. What would be better is a NATO/EU effort lead by France and the UK with the US in a supporting role.

    We’ll provide the ISR and KC-135s, even maintenance and logistcs. But, any kinetic effort should be lead by the Europeans.

    I have as much support for this as I do because of how they’ve supported us in AFG and IRQ (inb4 NATO isn’t doing anything in AFG or IRQ). AFG and IRQ was as much their fight as Libya is our fight – their proximity to Libya gives them much more of a strategic imperative than it does for us. As they have supported us, we MUST support them. We’re allies, and that is what allies do.

  • Let the arabs take care of the arabs. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc could establish a NFZ based on Egyptian bases. Relief suppliess could also be shipped overland.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    If the rebels were holding their lines better in the East, I’d say that’d be possible to have Arab Nation’s establish a NFZ from Egypt. But, the rebels are not holding their lines. I doubt that Kadaffi would hesitate to attack Egyptian soil if a NFZ was established. Before Kaddafi considers himself anything else, he considers himself African. This tells me that he would rally his supporters around this notion and attack proper Arabs. Not only that. But, the Saudi’s and Bahraini’s have their own domestic issues to attend to. How much effort that can they really devote to any ‘expeditionary’ efforts?

    Europe has to take the lead in this, if you want it to have a Muslim flavor, then where are the Turks? With these power shifts going on, I am amazed that we do not see more coming from Turkey, they are in every measure best suited to gain from these power struggles… Perhaps their silence is a sign that they are waiting to see the dust settle and then they will move to consolidate themselves as the strongest Muslim Nation in the Eastern Med and all of the Muslim World?