Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Libyan Rebels - No Decisive Capabilities

As I read the reports from major news sources about the Libyan fighting, I am struck by a disparity: Gaddafi's forces are cited as having tactical strike aircraft, helicopters, and heavy artillery.  Libyan rebels seem to have no aircraft, no helicopters, no heavy artillery.  They also seem to have no organized supply, medical evacuation, and personnel replacement system.

The rebels seem to be a semi-organized mob with small arms, while the Gaddafi forces seem to be more heavily equipped and more professionally trained.

This apparent disparity in force and capabilities convinces me that even if a no-fly zone is established, the Libyan rebels are going to loose if they keep this thing a military contest and don't marshal political and diplomatic influence to get Gaddafi to leave the country voluntarily.  Even if the U.N. or the U.S. enforces a no-fly zone over the country, that will not prevent Gaddafi artillery from smashing rebel positions, not will it prevent the Libyan army from bring superior firepower to bear on ill-trained and equipped rebel forces which, without re-supply, will run out of ammunition, food, medicine, weapons, and fighters as some point.

The rebels must win via diplomacy, or they will lose.


This article on Real Clear World underscores the military situation in Libya and the possible futility of a no-fly zone:
The more important question is what exactly a no-fly zone would achieve. Certainly, it would ground Gadhafi’s air force, but it would not come close to ending the fighting nor erode Gadhafi’s other substantial advantages. His forces appear to be better organized and trained than his opponents, who are politically divided and far less organized. Not long ago, Gadhafi largely was written off, but he has more than held his own — and he has held his own through the employment of ground combat forces. What remains of his air force has been used for limited harassment, so the imposition of a no-fly zone would not change the military situation on the ground. Even with a no-fly zone, Gadhafi would still be difficult for the rebels to defeat, and Gadhafi might still defeat the rebels.
 I believe that President Obama would do well to heed this message.

UPDATE:  3/10/2011

Here is one effect of sanctions against Libya:
On Monday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said an arms embargo included in the U.N. resolution meant that "it's a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya," including the rebels.
 But without a source of weapons and ammunition, either from within or from outside the country, the Libyan rebels are going to lose, and lose in a very bloody manner.  President Obama's Libya policy, if not changed, is going to result in the destruction of the Libyan rebels, and the preservation of Gaddafi's regime.

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