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?

Posted by CDRSalamander in Foreign Policy, Hard Power, Navy
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  • Curtis

    Welcome to an utterly predictable no win situation. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

    Inject the killer teams to whack kadafi and then all go home for Christmas.

  • Sal, these are all very good questions and they are very to the point. IMHO none of the countries that are ponding Libya at the moment have a good and solid “Exit Strategy”.

    I am saddened to see that USA is contributing to a conflict, initiated (at least politically) by France. Last time when such a thing happened was in Vietnam.

  • lskjhtgs0p6tfjl

    “If this is our basis for intervention, then what do we tell the leaders of uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, and other places?”

    We say two words and let them figure out what it means:

    “Lockerbie, Beirut”


  • LT B

    What I found “interesting” and feel to be a set up is the abstaining of China and Russia, followed by their strongly worded statements about how violence should have been avoided, etc. We will see the kabuki dance from above in fear of the world’s view of the country.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Lessee –
    1. Mebbee.
    2. Welcome to windy corner…again.
    3. TBD. (You didn’t think this was thought through?)
    4. See 3, above.
    5. See 3, above.
    6. See 3, above.
    7. See 3, above.
    Muddling through,as usual.

  • RM

    What about the constitutionality of waging war with the consent of the U.N but not The United States Congress?

  • I say again:

    Pop a dial-a-yield nuke at altitude, let the EMP knock out comms, (including cells, internets, and TV) and flatline everything with a chip or engine, and let them fight it out with small arms. No worries about EMP bleed over to other countries, they’re in the stone age, too.

    I see this playing out one of two ways:
    1. Quadaffi holds out until political winds change and we leave–he wins. US “led” coalition seens as weak and ineffective. US seen as weak and ineffective, enemies abroad are emboldened against us.
    2. Moslem Brotherhood (or some other 8th-century based voodoo death cult) wins. Claims either many were martyred because the Great Satan (TM) waited so long to help, or so many were martyred because the Great Satan (TM)was supporting Q-bert secretly. Enemies abroad are emboldened against us.
    3. (Okay, there is another option) Q loses, Democracy and freedom reign, rule of law is restored and respected, and Libya becomes a shining example of a peaceful, stable, and successful African/Muslim nation, and ally to the US, UK, and France.

    Which of those is LEAST likely, and which is MOST likely?

  • Salty Gator

    I’m all about dropping bombs on Gadaffi. We still owe him from the 1980s. But I find myself facepalming over this pickup game of an operation. What is the mission? Seems like everyone has a different idea. And we’re claiming success for having launched a bunch of cruise missiles? Wow. that was so effective against UBL. Look, if you want to throw down, then throw down. Send in the SAS, SEALs, Green Berets to work with the rebels and knock out the regime. Or don’t. But this appeasement, of Hilary Clinton, to “do something”, when that something looks a lot like the indicisive military action that her husband used to do, is ridiculous, a month late, and $200M short.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    At the Operational Level, this seems a lot like the 1,000 Ship Navy to me — a trend that is continuing from CTF 151 in FIFTH Fleet.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Or, not so much CTF 151, but all Navies present in the East Indian Ocean.

  • YN2,
    It is one thing to show up to the game – it is another to show up with your pads, cleats, shoulder pads, and jock.

    Wearing a team jersey with a pair of khaki pants and penny-loafers hanging out on the sidelines as others play the game does not count.

  • alfred_the_great

    You’re missing HMS CUMBERLAND as well.

  • Byron

    YN2, keep in mind that this is all dependent on the needs of the individual nations. It’s not a concern for the people getting murdered; if it was, we’d have been outraged about Darfur. This is about the oil. Please look at Lex’s place today and you’ll see why our “allies” are wanting to help get rid of Ghadaffi. And that 1,000 ship navy? Only if needs converge. If they don’t for you, you could be on the wrong side of the convergence. Yes, we are a major, maybe largest navy…but would we be the largest if many nations banded together against us?

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Who’s aircraft are doing most of the sorties? Which Nation has the only CVN in the area?

    I’m not going to expect any other Nation to take point on any first strike. Not when we have a monopoly on operational stealth aircraft and more TLAMs than all of Europe combined.

    That said, I will question the abilities of others when they come to play our game, support our objectives. However, the objectives here in Libya – thus far – are more Europe’s than our own. If we are thus far supporting our allies in their strategic goals, then there is no need to say who has, or has not shown up with the gear required.

    this isn’t about oil either. Gadaffi would keep selling his oil as long as the World remained neutral, in reality if this was about oil, I expect Nations to try to crush the rebellion and then have a client in Gadaffi. More so, this is about Nation’s with borders on the Med. 200 Libyans have already arrived in Italy. Imagine a failed State on the Med, the Barbary Coast in the 21st Century. The Europeans can put up with some piracy on the other side of Suez. But, in ‘their’ Sea, methinks not.

    To the 1,000 Ship Navy, look what CNO Mullen had to say about it.

    “Membership in this ‘navy’ is purely voluntary and would have no legal or encumbering ties. It would be a free-form, self-organizing network of maritime partners — good neighbors interested in using the power of the sea to unite, rather than to divide. The barriers for entry are low. Respect for sovereignty is high.”

    Tell me how that differs from what we’re seeing in SIXTH Fleet right now.

  • Posted under Telegraph columnist Will Heaven’s adulatory blog about the B-2 bomber strikes in Libya:

    You are right, Will Heaven, the B-2 looks like something straight from Hell.

    However, the 16″ guns of an Iowa class battleship could obliterate Gaddafi resistance in Ajdabiya far more cheaply and accurately … and just as terrifyingly.

    Now what Pentagon bean counter was so strategically stupid as to decommission them?

    And previously under Richard Preston’s Telegraph blog about Libya:

    The UN coalition had better finish this … utterly defeat Gaddafi … FAST.

    Putin has joined the protest … but the Russians apparently didn’t veto the resolution in the Security Council … maybe wanting to let us get quagmired even deeper?

  • Ken

    And the LCS (“can go where other ships cannot. … It’s going to be a real workhorse for us.”-CNO, ADM. Roughead) fits into our maritime battle plans under this crisis, how?

  • UltimaRatioRegis


    The Thousand Ship Navy is about 985 ships short. Capabilities we have discarded will wind up being ever so crucial to even the smallest of operations, which this is, and the lack thereof will limit the options of the Commander in Chief and his Combatant Commanders.

  • Ken,
    The nose-on-your-face truth is that LCS is actually a liability in such a scenario. It cannot defend itself from any kind of air threat from even a medium power. Even if it had functioning mission modules, which we don’t, no need for MIW or ASW here. There are better ways of taking care of Gadaffi’s Navy if needed.

    Where could LCS come into play? CSAR if someone punches out feet-wet. Well … that is if they are carrying a manned helo and not a UAS. UAS doesn’t do CSAR. Oops…

    It cannot close the shore because it is a large ship with a glass jaw – one hit and done that isn’t designed to fight hurt. See all those pictures of AAA in the back of pick-up trucks? LCS comes within visual range of the beach and one of those with an illiterate tribal militia guy will take out an LCS before he needs to reload. Anyone want an LCS full of Sailors as POWs? The shallow water ability is of limited utility.

    Station keeping, endurance, MIO, CSAR, ability to self-defend and conduct limited AAW and ASUW … sounds like a mission for … a frigate.

    Wait ………. the LCS folks say we don’t need frigates any more. OK. Sprinkle pixie dust over the Gulf of Sidra …. and …. POOF! We don’t need frigates. There, I feel better. When the Canadian frigate, French frigate(s), British frigate(s), need to leave station – I am sure the Greek …. oops … ummm …. Turkish … oops …. German …. ummm …. Russian …. opps …. Chinese …. ummm …. Japanese …. oops …. Iceiretugal … ummmm …. errrrr … someone from the Global Maritime Force for Good will relieve them, I guess.


  • This is a pick up game-and at that its being run like amateur hour. I’ll say it again-American involvement (or European ) involvment in what is essentially an internal Libyan matter is just plain dumb. But if you are going to do it-then for God’s sake do it right. NFZ’s require high sortie counts especially for a country as large as Libya. And that requires a real CV a few hundred miles closer to the fight.

  • UltimaRatioRegis

    Oh lordy. I find myself agreeing 100% with Skippy. The end is nigh!!!

    But heed his points, re: need for a CV, and high sortie rate.

    Involvement to begin with? Well, water under the bridge.

  • Byron

    YN2, when the needs of nations and their national interests diverge from those of the United States, well, it’ll be just us. The 1000 ship navy is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard coming out of a CNOs mouth. He should know better.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Byron. No it’s not. It’s the application of complexity theory at sea.

    The ‘fleet’ forms based upon common objectives, and dissolves away once those objectives are met.

    Looking at the myriad of ‘fleets’ deployed fighting piracy right now, such an arrangement is in the spirit of the CAS Navy (I am not calling it the 1,000 ship navy any more, cause that’s horrible branding) (CAS = Complex Adaptive System). So is how things have thus far come together in the Med.

    If there are going to be increasing numbers of random events like the ‘Arab Spring’ then the ability to form momentary alliances is a vital need. But, the ability to pull such an arrangement off is with the guys who wear suits, not uniforms. We have the C4ISR that can make such arrangements work (though, not perfectly).

    Politically, it might be dumb. But, operationally, it’s not dumb at all.

  • Byron

    Pretty words, YN2…but does not stand up to the reality of nations do things in their self-interest. As the national policy goes, so does their Navy. Yes, there is a semi-official anti-piracy fleet in being that is multi-national in make-up. If nation “X” decides that it’s in their self interest to leave the pirates alone and just flat bribe them yearly (yes, it’s been done before) then kiss those ships good-bye. If nation “Y” decides it’s had enough of of piddling with pirates and starts killing them wholesale (the other end of the spectrum) we will divorce ourselves from them in a New York second. It simply wouldn’t look good on CNN or MSNBC, you know.

    The bottom line is that the only Navy you can truly count on, 100% of the time, is the one flying your flag. All the others are there only until it is no longer profitable or necessary to their needs.

  • YN2;
    The formula for your CAS Navy is a lot more complicated than you think. To simplify what is a very complex DiffyQ – you have two variables; X & Y.

    X is your mission capability ratio. Establish as a baseline a Flt IIA Arleigh Burke (X=1).

    Y is your caveat ratio. A US Navy warship operating under USA ROE is your baseline (Y=1)

    Just for an example, let us say that in your CAS Fleet you have a USA Flt IIA under USA ROE. That gives you (1×1=1) operational unit.

    For another example using completely made up ratios, let’s say you have a MEKO from NATO nation Z (X=.5) that is operating under its nation’s ROE with the standard caveats that apply (Y=.2). That gives you (.5x.2=.1) 1/10th of an operational unit for the CAS Fleet Commander.

    In your PAO picture, you have two warships steaming together playing Global Task Unit for Good. In reality though, you do not have two warships … scratch that, make it “naval ships” … from the Commander’s perspective he has 1.1 ships.

    Theory is nice – but such theories have been around for centuries; and the mathematics of those theories have been as well. Review the difficulties of the ABDA Fleet in the south pacific and the post-Dunkirk Anglo-French naval coordination for examples of how the math can be a challenge and you need to respect the exquisite and delicate nature of the CAS Fleet theory.

    Allies are nice garlands to have – but cannot be relied on with an equal basis as national assets – never have, never will.

    The closest we ever had were Royal Navy units in WWII and Korea – and even then X=.9 on the best of days, Y=.8 on most. You do the math from there.

    No harm; no foul – just reality.

  • Ken

    Thanks CDR Salamander for succinctly answering my question (or as some who play volleyball a “set”) on the LCS, the new “workhorse” of the Navy…Jefferson’s Gunboat Navy.



  • I also concur with Skippy.

    There isn’t a single thing in Libya worth spilling a single drop of American blood for. This is no different than the Balkans, where we should never have gotten involved, and where we are still stuck in an endless quagmire of worthless expense and unjustifiable mission.

    This is an Arab matter, and if the Arabs are so damned worried about Q-man, let THEM take care of him. After all, why did we sell/give all those aircraft and ground systems to them and provide all that training if they aren’t willing to use them?

    This isn’t even, as some have said, a pick-up game. This is more like a bunch of amateurs trying to intervene in a bar fight between two drunks, rather than letting the bouncers toss the idiots outside.

  • Mike M.

    Coalition warfare has a long, painful history.

    Tactically, you have to get everybody on the same page. Which is do-able IF everybody is on the same tactical manual – but whose? And what do you do with forces not familiar with your tactics?

    Operationally, you increase internal friction dramatically. Within our own forces, joint operations pose problems of command, control, and doctrine – and the United States has been trying to solve this issue for over two decades. Throw in multiple nations, toss in the grit of language difficulties, and you have a recipe for terrible trouble.

    And at the strategic level, coalition warfare usually devolves to the lowest common denominator. Coalition members peel off the instant their own national objectives are either acheived or clearly lost.

    It’s worth noting that in the Second World War, the invasion of France was limited to US, Canadian, British, and French forces – and I suspect the French would have been cut out of Eisenhower could have done it. The contingents from other nations were all dispatched to Italy, which was seen as a secondary front. Not that troops from these other nations were lacking in fighting spirit – but as a means to minimize internal friction and win the war.

    The United States needs to pursue a policy of Muscular Autonomy. We should act in our own interests – and must maintain the ability to do so without asking permission of any other nation. We should take allies if they are avaialble, but must never put them on the critical path to victory.

  • I’ll say this much:

    Anyone who honestly believes that this nation can honestly and effectively bond with other nations to form a working 1000 ship Navy ought to play a few sets of the old game “Diplomacy”. It’s a GREAT boardgame, and an excellent teaching tool. My wargames club used to play it once a month or so, with teams of 2-3 players representing each nation, and an umpire to coordinate things.

    We’d wear tuxedos, have wine and cheese, brandy & cigars, etc, and everyone on the most pleasant and cordial terms.

    And yet, despite the smiles and pleasantries, the shared conversations and diplomatic dalliances, we all knew that it wasn’t so much WHAT was said, as HOW it was said. It wasn’t so much WHAT was agreed to, but WHAT was done.

    In the end, everyone understood that all alliances were fleeting, that all nations would first look to their own safety and needs first, and that the one, single over-riding lesson was this: Stab last, & stab deepest.

    The only surety in diplomacy is to have sufficient strength that any alliance is based purely on convenience, and NOT on necessity, and that you ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, have sufficient strength to go it alone, for as long as needs be,


  • Curtis

    Spent 2 weeks with the J5 from c7f in Hawaii a few years ago who repeatedly assured me of utter nonsense. Wanted, ordered us to make it reality. It wasn’t random departure from the facts it was ill will. What he wanted was what was demanded by the admiralty. Our admirals, all of them, totally lost to reason.

    More with less,
    cut the manpower to do maintenance tasks we know to the bone take 120% more manpower than allocated before the cuts,

    build ships with a crew of 40 to fight. so funny.


    Talking about you Harvey.