Possible Actions in Libya

Al Jazeera reports that “conservatives” in USA are recommending “military intervention”. The concern seems to be that this could be a repeat of Iraq.

There are some similarities but also a lot of differences between Iraq and Libya. In Iraq popular uprisings were dealt harsh blows and were no threat to the Baathist regime. In Libya, opponents to Gaddafi have control of most of the country and are cooperating and it would not be necessary to occupy the country in order to bring down Gaddafi’s regime.

For example, withn a few days, Nato and others could set up

  • air patrols/surveillance to guarantee Gaddafi’s airforce remain grounded and navy in port,
  • close air support to eliminate use of armour and heavy weapons against citizens, and
  • close air support including guided bombs to allow Libya’s citizen army to deal with Gaddafi promptly.

In practice this would likely take up to a few weeks to ensure proper liason with the interim government and to organize armed units sufficient for the assault on the ground. If there are sufficient men and equipment of the Libyan military joining the side of the interim government, it could be that none of this would be necessary, but with assistance from air and sea, the job could be done much more swiftly to minimize casualties and destruction of infrastructure. At the moment Gaddafi has tanks roaming out 50km or so from Tripoli and such heavy equipment prevents a real possibility of overthrow if Gaddafi can bring it to bear.

As we saw in Iraq, control of air and land permits an organized army to accomplish most objectives quickly and with fewer casualties. If assets of the interim government liased closely with external forces to design specific limited roles and targets Gaddafi could be out in a week or so. If the status quo remains, a brutal urban civil war using rifles against armour and heavy equipment could drag on for months with heavy casualties.

I would prefer a short sharp action to dislodge Gaddafi before he does any more damage to his country. To do otherwise might be smoother politically but catastrophic as the imminent battle unfolds. The USA and Nato need not fear they will be trapped in an endless ground assault. The Libyan people have demonstrated ample determination to do that on their own. They do need more than bodies to win decisively, however.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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3 Responses to Possible Actions in Libya

  1. I was watching Al Jazeera today. The French navy is arranging to ship in tons of stuff. There is also some coming in by truck from Egypt. One of the complications is that foreigners fled and many of the doctors were foreigners. I believe the French will ship in some medical personnel. It’s long overdue. They might have saved hundreds of lives. Typically in a shooting, if the victim doesn’t bleed out promptly or have his central nervous system disrupted, there is a good chance of survival if modern medical technique is applied within the hour. The Libyan hospitals were overwhelmed in the first few days. Imagine any city of a million or less suddenly having hundreds of trauma cases in a steady stream for weeks.

    It is risky bringing in aid. The UK planes extracting oil-field workers were fired at by anti-Gaddafi guys thinking Gaddafi was using his air-power. The Libyans are adaptable. Deliver equipment and supplies and they will take care of the details. I would load the ships with loaded trucks they could drive off or containers that could be transferred to trucks.

    I expect the trickle of aid will become a river now that everyone figures Gaddafi is not going to come back and the Libyans are getting organized. I expect there is air and sea-power queued up just in case.

    see Al Jazeera

    There are concerns about getting relief supplies to the parts near Tripoli. If they had air-cover, friends could parachute stuff in. Some of it would get where it was needed. Do that at night so the bad guys could not easily scoop it up. I would bet Libyans could be found to simply drive trucks in. With air-patrols friends could identify open routes or a safe drop-off. Folks have GPS-guided para-drops these days so they can drop stuff at high altitude and down range and have stuff glide in. Of course, convoys by road or sea will work but the values become so high that the chance of fighting increase. The object of this game is to get in aid without anyone getting hurt. If it weren’t a matter of concern about civilian casualties, Gaddafi could be bombed out in a day.

  2. Ray says:

    I can’t believe that they wouldn’t send aid!

  3. Ray says:

    Where’s the aid?

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