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Old April 1st, 2011 #1
Hugo Böse
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Hugo Böse
Default Gates warns on protracted Libya conflict

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0d99f8a0-5...#axzz1IGaFU8yU

Quote:
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Nato faces a protracted conflict in Libya, the US’s top two military chiefs signalled on Thursday, even as they promised that Washington would substantially scale down its participation in coming days.

Robert Gates, defence secretary, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, acknowledged the possibility of a stalemate as they sought to square growing congressional discontent about the military action with Libyan rebels’ calls for more aid to prevent a rout by Muammer Gaddafi’s forces.

Asserting that Muammer Gaddafi’s tanks and armoured vehicles still outnumbered the disorganised opposition forces by 10 to one, Adm Mullen said allied air strikes had reduced the Libyan leader’s forward forces by 20-25 per cent.

But he added: “That doesn’t mean that he’s about to break from a military standpoint because that’s just not the case ... He’s got mobility. He’s got the training. He’s got command and control, communications, a lot of which the opposition just doesn’t have.”

Appearing at hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Mr Gates said: “We have considered the possibility of this being a stalemate and being a drawn-out affair.”

He said there could be an outcome “where you achieve the military goal [of establishing a no-fly zone and protecting civilians] but not achieve the political goal” of ousting Col Gaddafi.

Howard McKeon, the committee’s chairman, warned that Nato “could be expected to support a decade-long no-fly zone enforcement like the one over Iraq in the 1990s,” while a series of other members underlined their doubts about the rebels’ political orientation.(not kosher enough???)

Mr Gates promised the US would “significantly ramp down” its commitment in coming days, including withdrawing AC130 and A10 aircraft designed to provide close support for ground forces – a capability the US’s European allies cannot match. At a later hearing, John McCain, the Republican senator, expressed incredulity at the move.

On the ground, Libyan rebels battled troops loyal to Col Gaddafi around the oil town of Brega as they sought to halt a regime counter-offensive. Rebel gains were rapidly reversed this week when bad weather impeded coalition air cover.

Both Mr Gates and Adm Mullen said that, over time, Col Gaddafi’s advantage could be erased by continued military pressure, which involved 110 air strikes in the previous 24 hours in areas such as Tripoli, Misurata and Ajdabiya. Mr Gates said the drive could help crack the unity of Col Gaddafi’s military but warned that “no one can predict for you how long it will take for that to happen”.

Asked about arming the rebels, he replied: “My view would be if there is going to be that kind of assistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the US,” emphasising that Washington would also not want to send trainers.

He said the opposition was now well equipped with small arms, having broken into government arsenals. “What they really need is training, command and control, and some coherent organisation,” he said. “That requires advisers on the ground, as would more sophisticated weapons, in terms of training.”

Both men declined to comment on reports that the CIA has dispatched a small number of operatives to Libya to identify possible targets and gain information.
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Last edited by Hugo Böse; April 1st, 2011 at 05:52 AM.
 
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libya, nato, zog war

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