Especially in the heat of the 24-hr news cycle and war reporting sometimes on par with a caffeinated dog in a squirrel filled park, it is helpful to back up a bit and ponder.

Let’s look back to what I posted here on 20 MAR,

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.

Where we stand 40 days later on the Salamander Four?

1. Yes, and no. Yes: in the static analysis of a poorly-to-un-planned mission, the No-Fly Zone Libya (NFZ-L) worked like a champ. It is what happens when 21st Century air forces go against a poorly maintained one from circa-1970. Same with the ground attack mission-creep that soon followed. Tanks, APC and other armor formations are easy to kill from the air. The enemy gets a vote though. We are not the only ones who improvise, adapt, and overcome. As we did not have a fully fleshed out Combined/Joint Operation at the start with definable End State, Objectives, Phases, or Lines of Operation – much less Branch Plans or Sequels – this is not shocking. We have had some nice Decisive Points – but no one can place them on a LOP, they just are there because they are there. Many have described this as a pick-up game; they are right. We started playing football, evolved into cricket, and now trying to play polo from Shetland Ponies, methinks.

No: we now find ourselves in a classic grinding civil war. The first steps of the ground war have started with Anglo-French-Italian advisers. After jumping into a support role, Europe ran out of weapons and reserves to the point that we are now back in the ground attack game – but only halfheartedly. If reports are to be believed, we are now going to use armed UAS in a CAS role. Really? That is about one notch to the right of putting TLAM into empty tents outside a parade ground – but it is something, in a fashion. We also have Senator McCain (R-AZ) on the ground in Libya today. Feeding great expectations, or a hint of further entanglement as Misrata grinds on and Gadaffi still shows no sign of turning to pink mist anytime soon? Well see.

For now though the facts are clear – the answer to #1 is no, not without CAS, advisers, weapons, and “special” help.

2. The French and the British are still strong. The Italians are thinking about being a more robust friend as their southern islands’ beaches start to fill with illegal immigrants. We are doing more again, as this is lasting longer than the Europeans thought. The British are re-learning the costly nature of long-range missions from land-based aircraft and Le Grand Charles can’t stay at sea forever. The balance of the European/NATO military contributors are falling the test again – slathering their forces with caveats to the point of limited utility as we see from AFG to the Horn of Africa. Expected. We have not seen a USA CVN yet, but odds are we will see one soon. The French and British will need to rest if this keeps going on. USA CVN have the sortie rate and response time to do what needs to be done for awhile.

No, our allies cannot do this on their own – we will need to do more and unless we want a repeat of Suez, we have to. It is almost past the point of arguing “should” – after awhile of dithering, things can deteriorate to the point that you have to get involved in order to avoid a total collapse and all the negative second and third order effects. Effects BTW, that you (we/they) created. Butterfly Effect or Dithering Effect, either one works. Which is worse, to let a civil war take its own course, or to try to bend it to your will? That is a hard question – but one the West thinks it has answered, but still thinks it is hedging. We crossed the hedging line when we started providing CAS to the rebels. The rebels know that, Gadaffi knows that, people in uniform know that – I’m not sure the balance of everyone else know that though.

3. It seems that we will continue in incrementally increase support to prevent the complete collapse of the Libyan rebellion. The European advisers and Sen. McCain on the ground are proof of that. Incrementalism has never been a real successful military strategy – but it appears it is what we have. As for resettlement – youbetcha. Europe is in quite a pickle – and the idea of another few hundred thousand North and South-Saharan Africans looking for their resettlement camps outside Nice, Birmingham, and Pisa should explain why the Europeans are as motivated as they are.

4. Truth changes. Let’s see what is happening up the chain of command.

The leaders of the US, the UK and France have said in a joint letter that there can be no peace in Libya while Muammar Gaddafi stays in power.

Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy say Nato must maintain military operations to protect civilians and maintain pressure on Col Gaddafi.

To allow him to remain in power would “betray” the Libyan people, they write.

Admiral Mullen, call your office.

I think our plan is that we don’t have a plan if Gadaffi stays in office. Try writing that article for Naval War College Review. Good luck with that.

Finally, a question I asked in an earlier post at my homeblog.

… do those nations now share responsibility for the tribal bloodshed that may and probably will take place when the rebels take Gadaffi’s tribal and governmental strongholds? When they capture his sub-Saharan mercenaries?

Of course they (we) do. Just a few days before Sen. McCain’s arrival, in main square of the rebel capital of Benghazi amid the resounding cheer of pro-democracy freedom fighters everywhere – “Allahu Akabar!” – we see the public and brutal beheading of prisoners of war by “our” allies. Just so everyone is clear about whose side we are on and the challenges ahead – the video is on YouTube and LiveLeak. All warnings apply – it is an incredibly brutal thing to see. Take my word – but if you haven’t yet accepted the world for what it is – it is there for your viewing if you wish.

Spring will end and the North African Summer will soon start. Interesting times.

UPDATE: I think the latest comments from Admiral Mullen should be taken onboard and pondered.

“It’s certainly moving toward a stalemate,” said Admiral Mike Mullen,

You get what you plan for.

Posted by CDRSalamander in Foreign Policy, Hard Power
Tags: ,

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • RickWilmes

    Seeing McCain in Libya means the neoconservatives own this fiasco.

    “The neoconservative approach is clear, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. If American interests are truly assaulted, Washington doesn’t respond with a robust self-defense, but if “rebels” are attacked internally by an autocratic regime America will respond, by sacrificing its soldiers and wealth. This self-effacing, self-defeating approach is typical of neoconservative foreign policy — regardless of whether it is practiced by Democrats or Republicans — and it is avowedly anti-self because it presumes self-interest is evil. The stance is timid, cowardly, apologetic and reserved when American self-interest and security are at stake, but bold, eager, unilateral, and warmongering whenever victims abroad, who mean nothing to us (or indeed, are the sworn enemy, like the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda) are “victimized” and we sacrifice to “save” them.

    A President John McCain would have been no different on this score than Obama; both want U.S. troops and treasure dissipated in Afghanistan interminably; both endorse pouring in more of each, while the military is told to pull punches (sacrifice).  For years McCain has called for a foreign policy known as “rogue state rollback,” where the U.S. sacrifices itself — pursuing aims “beyond mere self” — and fights dozens of Gaddafi-like regimes world-wide, presumably until the U.S. collapses into a spent empire, as did so many prior empires in world history that chose to plunge themselves into ever-deeper quagmires of moral and financial bankruptcy.”

  • I have been on record that, asent pressing/vested national interests, these United States should NEVER intervene in ANY civil war. All that does is engender hate towards us from the other side and wastes resources we need to husband.

    The absolute worst mistake, however, is to enforce a “truce” or “armistice”. That solves nothing, and keeps the hatred burning on BOTH sides of the issues. the only way to end a civil war is for one side or the other to be victorious.

    Let both sides fight it out, then deal with the winner when the smoke clears.


  • And there is nothing in Libya worth the blood of a single US Citizen, let alone the hundreds of millions of tax dollars being wasted in ordnance expenditure, fuel costs, and wear and tear on our already over-used military.

  • Eagle1

    Tim, this is a “humanitarian action.”

    Worrying about things like goals, end states and tax dollars is, gosh, I dunno, un-UNian.

    If these rebels are going to succeed, some organized boots are needed on the ground and also, as noted in my earlier post on Libya in this forum, something resembling logistics for the rebels.

    Otherwise, prepare for hand-wringing and finger pointing. And even more refugees. Lots of them.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    So far, I have seen nothing that says anybody thought about “what are the results if this whole thing goes completely against the anti Khaddafi (to be frank) rabble”. In other words, what is the risk?

    The other question worth asking “Who pays for this, and how, and how soon?”

    No sign of a budget for this little charitable project, either.

    We are learning some things. NATO, logistically, is a sham; i.e. a military alliance incapable of sustaining combat operations long enough to obtain a decisive result other than it’s own failure.

    Ponder the strategic implications of that.

    If you want this over, green light taking the leash off the Legion, and tell the French they can pay for it with confiscated Libyan oil.
    For them, enhancing their bad reputation is a national goal, anyway.

    Remember the unrealistic and unresourcable planning assumption of planning for two and a half regional contingencies, from way back in the eighties?

    We dropped it, de facto, in the 90’s. Can’t do it. Resources insufficient. By design, built in over the last 20 years, again, de facto.

    Well, we are in the middle of two and half regional contingencies. Plus. Plan? Nope. Resources. Nope? Not working well? What did you expect?

    Wind sown long since. Whirlwind? Nsw…never happen.

  • GIMP

    Good to see the escalation from unprompted attack on a sovereign nation to no fly zone to air attack on IADS to air attack on ground forces to boots on the ground in the form of CIA special forces to more boots on the ground in the form of Italian and French advisiors to drone attacks on the forces of a sovereign nation controlled by CIA special forces to aid a rebellion trying to overthrow that nation is going as planned. I say this because nobody who gets paid to do this stuff could possibly be stupid enough not to have been able to predict this escalatory sequence of events. Wonder if the plan has “and then we occupy another middle eastern nation in perpetuity” at the end.

  • ewok40k

    Plan Ewok on Libya:
    1. Get French and Italian units out of the AFG – they arent much useful there anyway – and send them to Libya. They get at least some combat experience, and Quaddaffis thugs are not the Taleban in terms of combat experience and tenacity.
    2. The whole creeping escalation reminds me of the 60s elastic response, when afteer the 1989 it was revealed Soviets wanted to start the war with nuclear barrage, and only bring more firepower later… Go after Quaddafi Gbago style. He can get his last stand if he wishes.
    3. Get a corps of civilian specialists to get water, electricity and food flowing ASAP after shooting stops or at least severely diminished. Again French and Italians who have most interest in the problem can shoulder heaviest burden.

    parting shots: it seems Syria is moving towards Hama massacre redux or Assad dynasty fall… Israelis now have one more headache, Iran can spread more havoc, and the whole keg of powder gets few more burning slowly fuses… at least not so much refugee crisis problem, though if Turkey lets any pass thru expect Greeks and Bulgarians to explode.

  • Bob

    This is NOT a US war.
    IT is NOT an EU war.
    Get the hell out and leave the Libya’s to fight their own battles.
    Now ask yourself, just how long can one man last against all of Europe and USA??
    Now ask WHY? What did Moammar do against any of US.
    Do some resaerch and you will see he has been quite generous towards his African brothers.
    GIVE it up and let the internal powers take their course.

  • I am of the belief that all of these uprisings, from Egypt to Tunisia to Libya, and Syria are part of one program: To destroy whatever vestiges of western influence and government there is in the entire region, and replace it with a Caliphate and Sharia.

    These uprisings are NOT isolated incidents, anymore than it is coincidence that Iranians were found in North Korea, or North Koreans were found helping Syria, and all three nations have nuclear interests.

    This is a major revolution, and what we see on the surface is the tip of an iceberg that threatens to change the world for the foreseeable future. If the Islamists pull this off, and right now there is every indication that they will, then it’s quite possible we’ll see a region similar to that of the Ottoman’s, and the Moors before them: A continent-sized single “nation” ruled likely from Iran, and with power enforced through compliance with Sharia. When it gets it’s hands on nuclear weapons, and it will, the Katy bar the door.

    Islam has been waiting for this sort of event sine it was stopped at the gates of Vienna. We are fools to be looking at these events as if they were not connected.

    Others may, and will, see this differently, but that’s how I view this situation.

  • ewok40k

    @AW1Tim – you are both overestimating Iran’s influence and underestimating possible threat in a way.
    Iran is certainly trying to ride the tiger, but is hardly controlling it, vide Syria where Iran-backed regime has a revolution on its hands.
    Real threat, if it comes to pass, is kind of Sharia – connected commonwealth that after disposing autocrats manages to build real economic basis for its ideological fight. Think EU with Jihad instead of soft power as ideology.

  • Distiller

    Yip, the strategic implications are unpleasant. NATO is a dead horse, say that for years and years, been demonstrated (again) in semi-permissive Libya.

    Also: No wonder a nuclear bomb is the wet dream of every half-able tyrant. Only thing so far proven to keep other people from bombing/UCAV’ing you.

    And: Again interesting lessons in asymetric warfare with questions regarding the utility of assets with clear military signature and behaviour patterns to be answered.

    At some point, maybe already, the question of what Western troops could theoretically do, but what they are not allowed to do by their political masters starts to blur, since maybe it’s not the politicians but actually the troops?

    Other thought: Oh how useful a covert corps of international mercenaries with modern and hard to assign Russian weapons would be for such a show as in Libya. And a squadron of night ops capable unmarked An-32 …

  • Here is the official transcript for Mullen:

    American Forces Press Service
    Mullen: World Community Says Gadhafi Must Go

    By Jim Garamone
    American Forces Press Service

    CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, April 22, 2011 – NATO has come forward in a very positive way to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya and protect Libyan citizens from the Moammar Gadhafi regime, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said here today.

    The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also told service members serving with U.S. Division Center in Baghdad that “the international consensus is that Gadhafi has got to go.”

    NATO is in charge of enforcing the U.N. Security Council resolution to protect Libyan civilians, Mullen said, adding that he is pleased the alliance stepped forward to lead the operation.

    Regime change is not a part of the NATO mission, and the U.N. resolution does not address it, Mullen said, but it remains to be seen whether the Libyan dictator will step down.

    “The long-term political end-state is to have [Gadhafi] gone,” he said. “Globally, the guy is a pariah, and every single action the vast majority of countries are taking are going to continue to put the squeeze on him until he’s gone. Is [Gadhafi] going to figure that out? I don’t know.”

    The NATO operation “is certainly moving toward a stalemate,” Mullen said, as neither rebel forces nor Gadhafi’s forces can win a decisive edge, and tough fighting continues in Misrata and Ajdabiyah.

    Not surprisingly, the chairman said, Gadhafi’s forces have adapted their tactics. They are closing with rebel forces, dispersing themselves among civilians and using civilians as a shield. “It’s a tougher fight than it was at the beginning,” the chairman said.

    “At the same time, we have ‘attritted’ somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of his main ground force capabilities,” Mullen said. “Those will continue to go away over time.”

    Mullen stressed the international focus on ousting the Gadhafi regime, noting that members of the Arab League support the military action in Libya. “This is the first time that I’m aware of where the Arab League has voted for something like a no-fly zone,” he said.

    But the international focus only highlights that at the end of the day, the Libyan people must decide what Libya needs, the chairman said.

    “In all these countries where this turmoil is taking place, what is important to remember and what is obvious is this is about the people of these countries, and we should respect that as they try to imagine their own future,” he said.

    Though France and Great Britain have said they are sending advisors to aid the Libyan rebels, there is no chance the United States will follow suit, Mullen said.

    “The president has been very clear: No boots on the ground, and I can assure you that’s where we are,” he said.

  • GIMP

    A covert ops mercenary force would be very useful, also very dangerous. The nature of secrecy surrounding the use of force on an international scale is what allows presidents to start their own personal wars that the populace would never allow if they knew the truth. For our national leaders to start wars often requires them to make up a story that allows the war to be sold to the people, who, if they knew the truth, would raise hell about the waste of their kids lives and tax money.

    The reason wikileaks is such a huge deal is that if the populace knows the truth, the national leadership’s ability to act will be largely circumscribed. Our nation’s international activities depend heavily on our leaders ability to lie to the public.

    Having a mercenary force available to our national leaders would take us in exactly the wrong direction. They would be able to not only lie to get the people to support the use of force, but hide the use of force from the people. They would start more wars, do more violent and foolish things, get us in more trouble faster.

    The best solution to prevent the NCA from acting hastily and foolishly is having the people know the truth. That will never happen, but the more we move toward it, the better off we are likely to be. Transparency, openness, and accountability in government, especially when it comes to the use of force, is what we need. We’re not likley to get any of it, but making a mercenary force available to deceivers, and fools is even more dangerous that allowing them to lie to the people without sanction.

  • ewok40k

    @Distiller… it is interesting that there are news of unmarked gunship helo(s) hunting pirates, erm, innocent fishermen in the Somali waters…

  • ewok40k

    @ GIMP – you are certainly right, makes me remeber the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the scenario lined up in the “Clear and present danger”

  • Jay

    Sal — Now after some time has past — and events seem to be decent (at least for the rebels), even though the future of Libya is still in flux (I am being generous) — care to revisit?

    I am sure our air made a difference in the past month, and I bet (without getting too deep into it…) that there were scattered assets on the ground assisting.