Libya: Evolving Civil War

  • #1
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What, another Libya thread? Well... Libya seems that it's going to be very seperate from the rest of the uprisings/revolts/change in the Middle East, and it's singular in its approach.

Today, Ghaddafi bombed civilians and "rebels" in Al-Brega... a MAJOR Oil producing region.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/03/02/libya.conflict/index.html?hpt=T2

CNN said:
NEW: Four dead, 23 wounded at one hospital in Brega region
NEW: Sen. Kerry: U.S. should be ready to implement a no-fly zone
NEW: International Criminal Court opens a Libya probe
Gadhafi says thousands will die if the U.S. or NATO intervene

Note, that's just the dead in one hospital, not those blown apart by bombs.

Then this:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2056442,00.html?hpt=T2

Eastern Libya is ready to fight... and I suspect this is going to devolve into a very nasty civil war, if it hasn't already.

We obviously can't invade, but we MUST have a no-fly zone... we could have prevented this. What is the EU, NATO, UN, USA excuse?!?!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
2,745
22
I read a report yesterday where Britain supported sending troops in, a move I completely support.

The UK is working with *someone* to put a no fly zone up.
 
  • #3
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I read a report yesterday where Britain supported sending troops in, a move I completely support.

The UK is working with *someone* to put a no fly zone up.

Yeah, and we are too, but somehow bombs are still dropping. We could have taken out Ghaddafi's runways, even before an NFZ.

If the UK makes the whole plaze a DMZ, I'd consider that to be a good step.
 
  • #4
2,745
22
Yeah, and we are too, but somehow bombs are still dropping. We could have taken out Ghaddafi's runways, even before an NFZ.

If the UK makes the whole plaze a DMZ, I'd consider that to be a good step.

The big upside to this situation is that there is a lot of support within the country, so sending in troops isn't an uphill struggle.
 
  • #5
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The big upside to this situation is that there is a lot of support within the country, so sending in troops isn't an uphill struggle.

Agreed, and we can only hope that lasts, and that relevant parties pull out when the time comes.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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We obviously can't invade, but we MUST have a no-fly zone... we could have prevented this. What is the EU, NATO, UN, USA excuse?!?!
This, which echoes what I said in the other thread:
In the House of Representatives, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told lawmakers that sending in air cover to protect the rebels in Libya — something the 22-member Arab League on Wednesday said it opposes — would amount to an act of war. The U.S. first would have to wipe out Libya's air defenses to protect its own planes, he said. Decrying "loose talk" around Washington of establishing a no-fly zone, Gates said, "A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya."

Gates added that although the Pentagon could set up a system to stop Gadhafi from sending up planes to bomb his people, it would be a huge and costly undertaking, and the United Nations Security Council has not authorized any military action in Libya. "It's a big operation in a big country," Gates said.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-03-03-libyaoptions03_ST_N.htm

Until we see WMDs and/or death tolls with a couple of extra zeroes on them, we shouldn't be responding to the killing of a few Libyans by killing a lot of Libyans. Right now it appears the people who we want to win are winning so for at least the time-being, we should let them win. What we did in Kosovo was a good thing, but it was a much bigger humanitarian problem and we were prepared (and did) back it up with ground troops. Are we really ready for ground troops in Libya?

A no-fly-zone here is not a simple thing. Once you do it, you're all in and we're not ready to be all-in. It's not big enough yet for that to be worth it.
 
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  • #7
4,488
73
Some air force strategy / tactics /doctrine:

Air superiority could be reached by defensive counter air missions (DCA), engaging opponents in the air or with offensive counter air (OCA), attacking the air assets on the ground.

Flying opponents are orders of magnitude harder to battle than idle assets on the ground, as the opponent choses the time and place and is more than prepared to meet the threat.

Air policing an area with airborne fighters 24hrs a day consumes a tremendous amount of flying hours, think in orders of magnitude of 100 aircraft required, to have two airborne all the time, indefinitely, and that just to be prepared to react in time and at risk of being engaged oneself. Lessons from the Balkan conflict.

Offensive counter air requires an offensive bombing campaign like desert storm. Chance of success is fair, but it's just no less than plain war
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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Thanks, but you forgot to mention SEAD and I think that's the more problematic piece. Could you say a little about that?
 
  • #9
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SEAD is "suppression of enemy air defence". Sure if you fly over hostile territory, your opponent may attempt to shoot you down, beit with air defence fighters or ground based air defence missiles (GBAD). Any action taken to prevent that, is SEAD.

In the Balkan conflict 'hostile' air defence and SEAD was less of a factor, flying abouve an altitude of 15 kf was enough to suppress all small arms fire and small shoulder fired missiles. Obviously against a well armed opponent, SEAD gains in importance. You cant fly over hostile territory and have missiles coming at you all the time.

Mind that a normal modern jet fighter has ample means for self defence. In practice a missile is normally only successful if it can sneak in unseen. But also that self defence is limited and when the chaff and flares are depleted, used to mislead heat seeking missiles and radar guided missiles, then it's time to go home and obviously that affects the mission. Also, that is not SEAD

SEAD is more in terms of a massive counter measure to support an air offensive, providing massive radar/radio jamming, passive missile attacks, homing in on radars, even army artillery can be used to provide SEAD (that's a classical hobbyhorse for army air force cooperation). In practice the hostile air defenders shut down their radars, to prevent those missile attack, and that is exactly the objective of SEAD.

However, SEAD is only effective in the correct concentration, limited in place and time and unsuitable to provide protection 24hrs a day for a combat air patrol (CAP)
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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Thanks. The reason I ask about SEAD is that the USA Today article paraphrases Gates saying we'd need to "wipe out Libya's air defenses" prior to establishing the no fly zone. That's a major bombing campaing, certain to enact huge civilian casualties if we try to take it to the "wipe out" extreme: There should be no doubt that Khadaffi will use human shields, including mounting anti-aircraft artillery on the roofs of schools, hospitals and apartment buildings. That's straight out of the Insane Dictator's Self-Preservation Handbook (2003 ed., with forward by S. Hussein). If we ignore the AAA, fly high and just go after the big-ticket items(SAMS, radars, command and control) hard in the first few hours, then as they pop-up, that becomes less of an issue but I don't think it completely goes away.
 
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  • #11
BobG
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About the only difference I have with Andre's assessment is that the chances of success would be good, not fair.

Libya has an integrated air defense system similar to what Iraq had in '91 and to what Yogoslavia had - except Libya's probably was never quite as good as either of the other two countries. You disrupt the "integrated" part, i.e. the communications and command and control infrastructure, and the system tends to fall apart as Libya has few sites capable of stand alone operation - i.e. few SAM sites that have their own radar to track targets.

Granted, breaking up the "integrated" part is the hard part (and that was the part that provided Iraq with downed US pilots to put on TV), but, thanks to sanctions, Libya's air defense system hasn't been significantly upgraded since the mid-80's and it didn't perform all that well even back then. Iraq's air defense system was either a lot better than Libya's or Libya just did a lot poorer job of operating theirs.

Even so, it does require a true air bombing effort and that carries some international issues - especially in a situation where the rebels have gained control of some sites, meaning the effort may be less important and more confusing than it would be worth.
 
  • #12
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This, which echoes what I said in the other thread: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-03-03-libyaoptions03_ST_N.htm

Until we see WMDs and/or death tolls with a couple of extra zeroes on them, we shouldn't be responding to the killing of a few Libyans by killing a lot of Libyans. Right now it appears the people who we want to win are winning so for at least the time-being, we should let them win. What we did in Kosovo was a good thing, but it was a much bigger humanitarian problem and we were prepared (and did) back it up with ground troops. Are we really ready for ground troops in Libya?

A no-fly-zone here is not a simple thing. Once you do it, you're all in and we're not ready to be all-in. It's not big enough yet for that to be worth it.

I know... I know... I admit you're right here.

But damn it, France has one Carrier, and we could stage one... that's what it would take to make this work. I don't believe that this is a problem for the USA; I'm furious that the EU isn't stepping up with their former colonies. What the hell is the point of NATO, the UN, or the EU if they still all mean, "Hey, get the USA on the phone, they bomb stuff."

Gates was clear yesterday: More than one carrier group needed to stage this, and it begins with an attack... Andre supports this, BobG supports this. *Edit* Supports the doctrine, not doing it.

You're right too however... we would have to destroy infrastructure, which puts us on the hook to rebuild it... NO WAY should we be in there at this stage, if ever.


Meanwhile... there are submarines, long-range bombers, and the carries of europe, India, Russia... sitting on their thumbs.

Do we wait until people start sneaking out with ordinance, or some mustard agent? When is our inaction going to lead to blowback, compared to action?

And...


This is Libya. The last time we bombed them, we lost Pan Am...

I know, it's an unworthy thought, but man, it's something to consider.
 
  • #13
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Nowadays we think in a bit different concepts.

There is only one single target. Neutralize that and it's all over. One single mission could be enough, provided that your real time intelligence works


But the problem is not the military potential but the political will and diplomacy. Can't just go ahead and do what needs to be done.
 
  • #14
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let them fight their own battle here. it's not our oil.
 
  • #15
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Nowadays we think in a bit different concepts.

There is only one single target. Neutralize that and it's all over. One single mission could be enough, provided that your real time intelligence works


But the problem is not the military potential but the political will and diplomacy. Can't just go ahead and do what needs to be done.

I agree, but... we can't change that. People want to believe in clean war, and it's going to take the real thing to remind the USA and EU just what that means.


Ironic that we just lost our last WWI veteran.

@Proton Soup: True, but Italy choose to change all of that; Libya is a new country, a failed colony... this is not just Libya's problem.
 
  • #16
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africa is full of failed colonies.
 
  • #18
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...Right... what's your point?

the point is that the failed colony argument is irrelevant. you're not interested in the fate of Libya because it is a failed colony.
 
  • #19
russ_watters
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You're not addressing the issue and are offering a diversion as if it means something: the point of the "failed colony" argument is, as my mother used to put it when I was a little kid: "he who makes mess cleans mess".

The fact that Europe made a lot of messes doesn't make those messes any less their responsibility than if they had made only a few messes.
 
  • #20
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the point is that the failed colony argument is irrelevant. you're not interested in the fate of Libya because it is a failed colony.

What? No... I'm interested because the mess there has been aided and abetted by (primarily) the EU. I'm also intersted because these other failed colonies are following a similar model; that should interest you.
 
  • #21
308
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You're not addressing the issue and are offering a diversion as if it means something: the point of the "failed colony" argument is, as my mother used to put it when I was a little kid: "he who makes mess cleans mess".

The fact that Europe made a lot of messes doesn't make those messes any less their responsibility than if they had made only a few messes.

Yes... this is what I'm saying, thank you.
 
  • #22
142
1
You're not addressing the issue and are offering a diversion as if it means something: the point of the "failed colony" argument is, as my mother used to put it when I was a little kid: "he who makes mess cleans mess".

The fact that Europe made a lot of messes doesn't make those messes any less their responsibility than if they had made only a few messes.

i think it is better that we stand back and give this a chance to resolve itself. if we go in, then we are choosing sides, and choosing the next government. and that taints the legitimacy of that government. the new government then risks being seen as another US or european puppet. and when the people have grievances again, they will have reason to direct those grievances towards us. this is a cycle we need to have broken.
 
  • #23
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i think it is better that we stand back and give this a chance to resolve itself. if we go in, then we are choosing sides, and choosing the next government. and that taints the legitimacy of that government. the new government then risks being seen as another US or european puppet. and when the people have grievances again, they will have reason to direct those grievances towards us. this is a cycle we need to have broken.

What, not enough dead yet? I'm ready to allow the EU to pick up their mess and stabilize this critical region. It seems like the right thing to do, it's what is being asked of them, and in addition to colonialism.. you bought most of their oil.

Time to pay the piper.
 
  • #24
Gokul43201
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What, not enough dead yet?
Isn't that just the kind of short-term, knee-jerk thinking that needs to be avoided? How many dead constitutes "enough"? How many more will die if a hasty intervention leads to further long term instability? Are there other (less interventionist) ways to help stanch the killing?
 
  • #25
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Isn't that just the kind of short-term, knee-jerk thinking that needs to be avoided? How many dead constitutes "enough"? How many more will die if a hasty intervention leads to further long term instability? Are there other (less interventionist) ways to help stanch the killing?

Yes in fact, there is a continuum between invasion, NFZs, DMZs, and using NATO assets to attempt to discourage bombings.

It's not being discussed here, AFAICT, because few of you realize that, or really care to get into such detail. Those of us who do, already have for the most part, or assume that the rest of you know.

edit: I should clarify: "not enough dead yet"... in Africa: We let Rwanda happen, and The Sudan, and the DRC, we're pretty passive about The Côte d'Ivoire, and France was kind enough to keep Baby Doc fresh for Haiti.

And more. Millions... and the EU with a history of appeasement.
 

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