Games in the Desert of Libya

It is written that 8 British men were picked up at Suluq on Friday after a helicopter was spotted there. A story was floated that one had a diplomatic passport and was trying to contact the new regime…

If you believe that story, I have a bridge I would like to sell to you. I don’t know much about Suluq except that there are no stories about action there and I don’t see any oily facilies. So, what is so important about Suluq that a detour through it on the way to Benghazi was necessary?

We may never know but there must have been some asset or target at Suluq worth risking a lot. Neither side seems to want to destroy the oily infrastructure so it must have something to do with command, control or communication. Perhaps there is an unattended radar site they wanted to study or mine. Perhaps there was a contact who could transport them where they really wanted to go.

I would bet that with talk of a no-fly zone this action had something to do with Gaddafi’s radar system. If the UK could study or disable it someway by visiting Suluq, this migh make sense. Other than a rescue mission of some kind, I don’t see anything else that makes much sense. They could get all the information they need otherwise by satellite including observing the parties to the dispute with respect to men, material and tactics.

I think this mission means that within a few days there will be a no-fly zone in Libya and the UK will be involved. I expect that many such missions are active seeking to disable Gaddafi’s ability to shoot down aircraft supporting the revolutionaries. The sighting of a drone may also be connected. I have not heard that Gaddafi has any drones. Drones are used to gather much more detailed information than satellites can. Although Liby is of fair size, outsiders using the appropriate technology can draw up a target list in a few days. Infrared imaging can locate every body and power source within metres in a few days.

As long as the interception of these blokes did not kill some operation, I expect to see a no-fly zone implemented in whole or part this week. It has been requested and the cost of extending the disruption of oil production and delaying establishment of relations with the new regime will be greater than the cost of the operation. The folks do not even need much training after having done the deed several times before.

see UK diplomatic team released by rebels

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UPDATE There is a follow-up article on Al Jazeera… It seems they took a wrong turn in Egypt or something.

UPDATE The BBC has more information.

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 Games in the Desert of Libya

  1. Ray says:

    Just hope it’s not going to be a long, bloody civil war. 🙁

  2. The Libyans seem adamant that no foreign forces be allowed to land. That worries me as Gaddafi could get organized, kick butt and be back in business unless foreign aid includes stuff on the ground with short supply-lines. A no-fly zone has its limitations if not used for close air-support and you would not want an untrained Libyan pointing the laser. It would be pretty easy for each Libyan operation to have observers/liason to coordinate air-support. Typically, assaulting places like Sirte or Tripoli without that kind of support entails enormous casualties as defenders have a huge advantage. True, the guy on the ground may not know friend from foe in the fog of war, but he can surely identify who is firing at his friendlies. Trying to do it from the air alone greatly increases the risk of collateral damage.

    It might be possible to extract a regiment of revolutionaries, train them in Egypt and put them back but time will be lost and casualties mount. It is not clear that the revolutionaries can outlast Gaddafi in a war of attrition. I hope cooler heads prevail and some means be provided to liase very closely between the revolutionary forces and air-support. They could push Gaddafi down into his rabbit-hole in a week with good air-support. A further danger in allowing things to drag out is that Gaddafi will better be able to organize an insurgency which we see prevents change in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it would be better to allow foreigners to set up a training base, get on with the job and get out. The revolution needs an end to hostilities to thrive.

  3. Ray says:

    The most governments can do at this point, is to send aid.

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