I think Brega, Libya in the news is actually Burayqah, an oil port along the coastal highway. Gaddafi’s forces have probed it with a regiment supported by a couple of bombers.

This is an indication that Gaddafi’s loyalists are not waiting for the opposition to get its act together. If Gaddafi had included some tanks and heavy weapons in the probe they could have taken and held the town. Democracy is fragile in libya. At Benghazi, 5000 volunteers are in training but may be too little too late to prevent a determined counter-attack. Gaddafi may have several times that number of troops and with better equipment and training.

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That Gaddafi’s forces can probe almost all the way to Benghazi shows the control of the eastern parts of Libya is mostly boasting and not a fact. That a force that large could move by road shows the opposition is in disarray and lacking communication, intelligence and vision. The Gaddafi regime will not fall quickly at this rate and air-strikes and surveillance will be needed to tie down Gaddafi’s forces to deal decisive blows. Losing a few casualties per day could take a year or more to overthrow the regime. Forces need to see significant defeats to turn on their leader.

The US military has planes like the A-10 warthog that can spend many hours aloft killing anything that moves easily preventing surprises or squelching them promptly. One plane can take out many tanks if they dare to move from cover. The opposition needs that kind of leverage to overthrow the regime. The provisional government in Benghazi has stated they would like to see selective air-strikes. With ships and planes moving towards Libya we should see that kind of operation withing a few days. I would bet Gaddafi will push hard in the next few days to take back as much of the country as he can.

To properly deploy such air-support, Gaddafi’s radar and anti-aircraft capability will need to be shut down. Other aircraft assets can handle that but it can take weeks to clean things up. Lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq will mean this is the fastest and surest means of bringing Gaddafi to heel. Whether it will be implemented or not should be known in a few days. Any significant advance by Gaddafi will bring it on in short order. I hope the events at Burayqah focus minds on the dangers of leaving Gaddafi what mobility he still has. The Libyans can eventually finish him if he is limited to static positions but not if he can strike anywhere with impunity.

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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