Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Libyan Ground Phase Starts

The first step has been taken towards what I was warning about.
In the wake of a plea for help from besieged rebels in the Libyan city of Misurata, three Western powers have announced that they will send military advisors and one said Wednesday that it would step up airstrikes against Moammar Kadafi's military.

Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said 10 military instructors would be sent and details were being worked out. He spoke Wednesday after meeting with his British counterpart, Liam Fox.

France and Britain had announced earlier that they would send military officers to Libya to help rebel forces organize and bolster the NATO air campaign that has failed to rout Kadafi's military.
... and so it starts. If that does not work - then what? When the first GBR/FRA/ITA officer is hanging from a lamp post or is emptying his last magazine against a crowd of civilians so he can make it to the helicopter that is trying to evacuate him out before the fall - then what?

If it does work - do those nations now share responsibility for the tribal bloodshed that may and probably will take place when the rebels take Gadaffi's tribal and governmental strongholds? When they capture his sub-Saharan mercenaries?

Over at USNIBlog, exactly a month ago I saw this,
... (Libya) seems strangely like a mix of the immediate aftermath of DESERT STORM’s Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, DESERT FOX, with a whiff of the Suez Crisis thrown in ...
One good thing President Obama and SECDEF Gates have done is to continue to do their best to make this Europe's fight and keeping us out of this. If Europe want to bleed in Libyan sand, let them - but keep us out of it. If they break it - they buy it.

One thing that bothers me is that because there has never been a clear plan or Commander's Intent - this conflict is drifting toward two equally bad outcomes. First a stalemate and simmering civil war, or Gadaffi manages to win. Either case is a disaster. No trend lines point to the rebels gaining the upper hand under the present ROE. As those are the two drift lines, soon someone is going to say the obvious; "Let's finish this like we should have started this - full ground invasion and regime change.

That isn't where I wanted to go - or anyone else for that matter at the start of all this. However, a poorly executed war creates new realities that are often worse than the reality at the start. See WWI. As truth changes, you have to change your response to the truth. I'm not there yet - but the truth may change that the only place to go is to ground invasion and regime change in order to avoid a worse tragedy. That will be totally unnecessary and avoidable - but may be inevitable. Why? Because there has never been clear, decisive leadership and vision informed by history. Unless something drastic changes - like Gadaffi becomes pink mist soon - the trend lines are leading to Suez - a crisis turned tragedy.
UPDATE: As reported by LT B in comments - this is such a loss for everyone.
An American photojournalist was killed and another seriously injured in Libya Wednesday while covering battles between Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces and anti-government rebels, according to several reports.

Tim Hetherington -- who was nominated for an Oscar this year with co-director Sebastian Junger for "Restrepo," a documentary about U.S. troops in Afghanistan -- was reportedly killed in the volatile city of Misrata.
He did so much for those who have served in AFG. What a loss.

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