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March 19, 2011

Libya...And We're Off UPDATE: Navy Preparing Launches Missile Strikes, Pentagon Briefing Shortly

And the "No Fly Zone" opens with a French attack on Libyan...tanks. I did not know tanks could fly. It's like some governments were dishonest about the scope of this adventure from the start.

CDRSalamander takes a look at the forces in play and/or expected in the region. He seems to have more questions than answers.

If you have to project any type of power ashore with ranges such as here (see post from 01MAR) – the CVN is the indispensable ship. As we have waited to the 11th hour to do anything, I still stand by my statements from 17 days ago; without more than 1 CVN you will not have an effective NFZ-L. We don’t have that yet, and may never.

So, if that is where we stand; are we just relying on hope and best case scenarios? Is the NFZ-L just for show and a half-hearted effort? Are we ready for the time and effort for a sustained NFZ-L? Are our allies? Are we going to just let the Europeans fail as they did in AFG from ’06-’08 and then try to fix it later?

Finally there is this questions that many seem to want to avoid. We set up a NFZ-L and Gadaffi still wins in the face of it; what is our Branch Plan, or Sequel? What are the second and third order effects of an ineffective NFZ-L that results in a Gadaffi win?

(Added) The Navy is preparing missile strikes against Libyan air defense targets.

FNC says the Navy has already launched missile attacks.

There are things I don't like about this mess.

First, I think it's too late or so late the job has become exponentially harder. If Obama wanted to get results, he shouldn't have had such a fetish for the UN and a French led coalition. If action were required and the best way to do it was unilaterally, then so be it. If the political fallout of that was too high, then maybe the goal isn't that important after all.

Second, as I wrote yesterday, I'm not sure what the hell we're doing. Is protecting civilians from Qadaffi the goal? If so, then we've basically signed on to a mission that will last as long as he's in power. That could be awhile.

The only way to ensure that civilians are protected from Gadaffi is to get rid of Khadaffi. Except...nobody in the administration is saying that. If the administration believes regime change is the end state of this operation, they need to be honest with the public and say that.

I fear a lot of these nations signed on to this adventure with the idea they'd buy a little grace on the cheap. Everyone thinks Qadaffi is a bad guy so why not kick him around a bit? How hard could it be? We'll feel better about ourselves, we won't look soft anymore and our new found creditability will make it easier to ignore a real problem like Iran.

Well, war (and don't let anyone fool you, this is a war) is never simple and clean. What happens if the Brits and French can't do this quickly and start to run out of assets to throw into the fight? What if in the name of the prestige of the "international community" we can't let Kadaffi win, who are they going to call for help?

All of that said, we're in it so I hope this ends quickly and well. I fear it won't.

An additional thought: People complained that Bush and Rumsfeld tried to do Iraq on the cheap and didn't commit enough forces for what came after victory (the Phase IV Operations). Well, does anyone really think that air power alone is enough depose a regime? What about the cities where Kadaffi's forces are already inside, among the population? Air power isn't going to protect them. And what if we do get rid of him? How do we know the country won't dissolve into chaos? If it does, air power isn't going to do anything about it.

It's not just the mission that worries me, it's the fact that there doesn't seemed to be a defined goal and if there's a wink and a nudge that the actual goal is getting rid of Kadaffi, well, what does that commit us to?

Again, I'm not demanding an exit strategy, that's just silly. But I do think it's reasonable to ask what's the real goal here and what are willing to do to achieve it?

Added: People are disagreeing that this is only a "no fly zone". Well the UN titled their announcement of the resolution "Security Council Approves ‘No-Fly Zone’ over Libya, Authorizing ‘All Necessary Measures’ to Protect Civilians, by Vote of 10 in Favour with 5 Abstentions"

This was sold, as much as it was to the public as a "No fly zone". If we are now saying the "all necessary measures" language is our guiding principle, then Obama has truly committed us to an open ended conflict.

Did anyone sign off on that? Was that the case that was made to the public? Did anyone suggest before the resolution was voted on that we'd be supporting or conducting offensive operations against Libyan ground forces?


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posted by DrewM. at 02:34 PM

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