31 March 2011

Today's Libyanities

How's the Libyan intervention playing in France, who championed the idea in the first place? It depends on who you ask.

In the eyes of French public opinion, Sarkozy is looking fairly good at the moment. The deeply unpopular President has experienced a small boost of approval at home and abroad due to his role in rallying risk-averse allies into staging air intervention to prevent what would have been a massacre of opponents and civilians at the hands of advancing Gaddafi troops. Sarkozy's hawkishness on Libya "is winning him applause in France today due to the universal hostility towards Gaddafi," says Karim Emile Bitar, a Middle East specialist for the Institution of International and Strategic Relations in Paris, "but that could prove short-lived for several reasons, and come back to haunt him." That's because French public opinion could quickly develop mission fatigue especially with Paris already imposing a whole array of austerities to battle the domestic budget deficit. The moral imperative to help the Libyan rebels may bog down when the French people figure the money involved is better spent at home.

A senior intelligence official in Libya has defected, and the Brits are wondering what to do with him.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Mr Koussa had resigned and the Gaddafi regime was "crumbling from within".
British officials are questioning Mr Koussa, a former head of intelligence who was close to Col Gaddafi.
The development comes as Libyan rebels continue to retreat from recently captured towns along the eastern coast.
On Thursday Mr Hague said Mr Koussa had flown to the UK of his own free will late on Wednesday.
"His resignation shows that Gaddafi's regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within," he told reporters.
"Gaddafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him."
Mr Hague urged others close to Col Gaddafi to "embrace the better future for Libya".

When you say there are no "ground troops" in Libya, what exactly do you mean by "ground troops".

While the White House debates whether to arm rebels battling Moammar Gadhafi's troops, U.S. officials have acknowledged that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into Libya and helped rescue a crew member of a U.S. fighter jet that crashed.
Battlefield setbacks are hardening the U.S. view that the poorly equipped opposition probably is incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press.
Still, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday: "No decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any groups in Libya. We're not ruling it out or ruling it in."
The CIA's precise role in Libya is not clear. Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event President Barack Obama decided to arm them.
An American official and a former U.S. intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, told the AP about the CIA's involvement in Libya after the agency was forced to close its station in Tripoli, the capital.
They said CIA helped safely recover the F-15E Strike Eagle's weapons specialist, who was first picked up by rebels after the crash March 21. The pilot was rescued by Marines.

Anyone else having flashbacks to Jack Ryan's testimony about Colombia in Clear and Present Danger?

And the Navy's latest contribution? Sending the Littoral Combat Ships to... wait for it... wait for it... San Diego! (h/t Danger Room)

With a war taking place along the Libyan coast, the newest ships the U.S. Navy has for coastline warfare are maxing and relaxing. One of the new Littoral Combat Ships, the U.S.S. Freedom, is sitting in port at San Diego, while the other, the U.S.S. Independence, is continuing its long maiden voyage to the same port, where it’ll also sit out the war. How come?

The official answer is speed. Adm. Samuel Locklear, the commander of Operation Odyssey Dawn, made the call to use naval assets he had close by, and neither the Independence or Freedom was anywhere near, says Lt. Cmdr. Justin Cole, a Navy spokesman. That meant the primary Navy weapons on hand were the expensive, tricked-out Tomahawk missiles, fired from subs and destroyers, not the LCS’ MK-110 guns, which can fire on opponents from 9 miles away.

But that just begs the real question: is the Navy’s LCS missing out on the kind of war that it was all but created to fight? The Libya mission doesn’t just involve the destruction of coastal air defenses, its arms embargo requires swift ships like the LCS (speed: 50 knots) to keep smuggled weapons out of the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

For years, the Navy argued that it needed better capabilities for fighting close to the shore as more of the world’s population shifted to the “urban littorals,” bringing conflict with it. The $645 million Freedom arrived in the fleet in late 2008; the Navy commissioned its $704 million cousin Independence in January 2010. They’re the first of 20 more LCSs that will cost the Navy at least $450 million per ship through 2015, ahead of a total fleet of 55 speedy ships that can operate in water as shallow as 20 feet.

By: Brant

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