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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Potpourri of Reports from Libya

"The ultimate basis of an all-around bureaucratic system is violence." — Ludwig Von Mises

The following is a collection of stories appearing in various newspapers of happenings in the war in Libya.

AOL News Service reports 40 Lipsticked Virgins: Gaddafi's best bet for Survival: With Moammar Gaddafi in hiding as coalition aircraft bomb his country, he's counting on protection from a unique bodyguard corps he's been training for decades -- an all-female, gun-toting posse of virgins.

About 40 lipsticked, bejeweled bodyguards surround the Libyan dictator at all times. They wear designer sunglasses and high heels with their military camouflage. But they're purported to be trained killers — graduates of an elite military academy in Tripoli that's solely for women.Gaddafi's an all-female, gun-toting posse of virgins.

Gaddafi established the Tripoli Women's Military Academy in 1979 as a symbol of women's emancipation. "I promised my mother to improve the situation of women in Libya," he reportedly said at the time. His mother, a Bedouin tribeswoman born when Libya was an Italian colony, was illiterate.

The few foreign visitors who've been granted a glimpse inside the academy describe a spartan cement-block complex where 100 handpicked women drill in elite killing techniques, day and night, for three years. They're awoken by bugle call at 4:30 a.m. and jog for one and a half hours, before branching off into classes. Some train to fly MiG fighter jets, while others learn martial arts or how to fire rocket-propelled grenades.

The academy's best students are dubbed "revolutionary nuns," and they never marry and dedicate their lives to the idea of Gaddafi's 1969 revolution. They're banned from having sex and swear an oath to protect the Libyan leader until death, if need be. In 1998, a bodyguard named Aisha threw herself on top of Gaddafi when Islamic militants ambushed his motorcade. A barrage of bullets killed her and injured two others, but Gaddafi escaped unharmed.

As Lady Thatcher said, if you want something done, ask a woman.

The London Telegraph reports Navy running short of Tomahawk missiles: The Navy could run out of Tomahawk missiles after a fifth of the Navy stockpile has been used against Libya, sources disclosed yesterday.

Defense insiders say as many as 12 of the weapons have been fired from the hunter–killer submarine Triumph in the past four days. If this is correct, the Navy will have used up to 20 per cent of its 64 Tomahawks in the opening salvos of the war, leading to fears that it is "burning through" its armory.

The situation could become an embarrassment for the Government if the submarine were the only vessel within range of a number of targets but could not fulfill the mission. The submarines are stealthy and can loiter offshore unseen before going to depth to fire the Tomahawks. The Block Four variant of the missile can travel more than 850 miles, can be retargeted in flight and can loiter above a target for more than two hours.

It is understood that plans are being made either to resupply Triumph or send another Trafalgar–class submarine to the Mediterranean as a substitute. Triumph can carry up to 25 missiles or torpedoes. It is likely to have been loaded with as many as 20 of the long–range strike weapons. However, it is now likely to have used half its armory.

Questions have been raised about why the number of Tomahawks was not increased during last year's Strategic Defense and Security Review which highlighted the role for submarines to be used for "strike capability". "At this rate we are using up five or ten per cent of our stock per day and soon it could become unsustainable," a defense industry source said. "What if the strikes go beyond a second week? We will simply run out of ammunition."

What a joke — and they want to lead. What happened to the United Kingdom? Churchill is turning over in his grave.

The Telegraph reports that the RAF has their first female combat pilot. The first female British Typhoon pilot flew into action on Wednesday as the RAF readied itself for another day enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya.

The pilot is the only woman who flies the fighter plane for the air force. Her identity is not known. A member of the British contingent stationed at the southern Italian airbase of Gioia del Colle, she clambered into the fighter plane this morning and took off before midday.

A total of three RAF Typhoons and two Tornados took to the skies on Wednesday morning. RAF planes fly from Brize Norton airbase in Oxfordshire helped refuel Tornados operating over Libya to enforce the no-fly zone earlier on Wednesday.

Is this a war where women, gay, lesbians and transgenders will be featured? How about a B2 where one of the crew is gay? With the abolishment of don’t ask don’t tell the LGBT community will no doubt be telling stories of their heroism in combat.

The Telegraph reports: Armed Forces minister admits there is no exit strategy. The Government does not know how long the Armed Forces will be engaged in Libya, a defense minister admitted as debate intensified over the likely outcome, cost and leadership of the mission.

Nick Harvey, the Armed Forces minister, was asked how long Britain would be involved in the military operation in north Africa. He replied: “How long is a piece of string? We don’t know how long this is going to go on for.”

His admission, three days into the intervention, came as ministers faced mounting pressure to set out the limits of Britain’s involvement and explain their eventual exit strategy. MPs were becoming increasingly concerned that Britain would be “sucked in” to a prolonged conflict.

Adding to the sense of uncertainty, France and Britain remained at odds over a plan for NATO to take over command of military operations when the US winds down its involvement, a transition expected in days.

Oh the wonders of a war by steering committee. The problem is the only country that knows how to drive is the United States. When have the British and French ever cooperated on anything?

The New York Times reports: Marines Face Questions About Rescue of Officers in Libya. An American pilot and a weapons officer were safely rescued in Libya on Tuesday after their warplane crashed near Benghazi, but the United States Marine Corps dropped two 500-pound bombs during the recovery and faced questions about whether Marines had fired on villagers.

In an episode that reflected the unpredictability of an air campaign designed to keep American troops off the ground, the United States military said that an equipment malfunction rather than enemy fire brought down the plane. A Marine Corps officer in the Mediterranean strongly denied that any shots were fired at civilians during the rescue, but Marine Corps officers at the Pentagon said they did not know what happened or whether any civilians were killed or injured when the bombs exploded.

United States military officials said the pilot was recovered by a Marine rescue team and was now aboard an American ship in the Mediterranean, the Kearsarge. The weapons officer was found on the ground by “the people of Libya,” said Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the tactical commander of the United States-led effort in the country. At a Pentagon briefing, Admiral Locklear did not describe them as rebels but made clear that they were not forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi.

Admiral Locklear said the people treated the weapons officer “with dignity and respect.” The officer is now in American custody, but the admiral declined to say more.

United States military officers said the plane took off from Aviano Air Base in northeastern Italy late Monday on an airstrike mission to Libya. At some point over Benghazi, the jet experienced what military officials called an “equipment malfunction,” and at about 11:30 p.m. local time on Monday (about 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday), both the pilot and the weapons officer ejected.

Their parachutes opened but landed them some distance apart near Benghazi, the military said. Although details remained murky on Tuesday, the Marine Corps said a rescue team that took off from the Kearsarge quickly located the pilot.

Here we go again. It’s. A. War. Bad things happen by accident in a war. If that can’t be accepted by the civilian leadership in this country, don’t send them to war. It did not take long for the Times to begin digging up stories to cast our military in a less than positive light.

The Telegraph reports: work abandoned on Lockerbie bomber's residence. Work has been abandoned on a new residence for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, who was reported to have been evacuated from Tripoli before an international bombing campaign was launched.

A heavy police presence was deployed in the Damascus district of Tripoli, the upmarket suburb where Mr. Megrahi lives, after an overnight bombing raid destroyed the city's air defenses. Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime is in lockdown as a result of the UN-backed attacks and key figures have been evacuated from the city for their own safety.

Mr. Megrahi, 58, was returned to Libya in August 2009 following compassionate release from prison in Scotland. He is said to be gravely ill. However he was given just three months to live on his release from prison after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Mr Megrahi has not been seen in more than a year. A heavy police presence guards his opulent home. A new family residence is being built in the same alley and guards last month said Mr. Megrahi had visited the site.

Mr Megrahi has deep family connections to southern Libyan tribes that are staunch defenders of Col Gaddafi's rule. The Libyan intelligence officer was convicted of carrying out the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, which exploded over Lockerbie killing 270.

As Mark Twain once said, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Megrahi was released by the Brits for “humanitarian” reasons and now we are bombing him for “humanitarian” reasons.

The Washington Post reports: Arab League condemns broad Western bombing campaign in Libya. The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya and said Sunday that he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention.

Moussa said the Arab League’s approval of a no-fly zone on March 12 was based on a desire to prevent Moammar Gaddafi’s air force from attacking civilians and was not designed to endorse the intense bombing and missile attacks — including on Tripoli, the capital, and on Libyan ground forces — whose images have filled Arab television screens for two days.

“What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone,” he said in a statement carried by the Middle East News Agency. “And what we want is the protection of civilians and not the shelling of more civilians.”

Moussa’s declaration suggested that some of the 22 Arab League members were taken aback by what they have seen and wanted to modify their approval lest they be perceived as accepting outright Western military intervention in Libya. Although the eccentric Gaddafi is widely looked down upon in the Arab world, the leaders and people of the Middle East traditionally have risen up in emotional protest at the first sign of Western intervention.

A shift away from the Arab League endorsement, even partial, would constitute a major setback to the U.S.-European campaign. Western leaders brandished the Arab League decision as a justification for their decision to move militarily and as a weapon in the debate to obtain a U.N. Security Council resolution two days before the bombing began.

As U.S. and European military operations entered their second day, however, most Arab governments maintained public silence, and the strongest expressions of opposition came from the greatest distance. Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Evo Morales of Bolivia and former Cuban president Fidel Castro condemned the intervention and suggested that Western powers were seeking to get their hands on Libya’s oil reserves rather than limit the bloodshed in the country.

Russia and China, which abstained from the voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military intervention, also expressed regret that Western powers had chosen to get involved despite their advice.

Wow. This war is off to a great start. Let’s see how long did we have support from the Arab League — less than 48 hours? First the Arab League wants out. Then the Germans pull their assets out of NATO command and hen the Turks say “No” to NATO intervention. Who will be next? Will it be Denmark with their one plane or Qatar with its four planes?

Almost immediately after France fell to the Nazis in 1940, the Allies planned a cross-Channel assault on the German occupying forces. At the Quebec Conference in August 1943, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt reaffirmed the plan, which was code-named Overlord. Although Churchill acceded begrudgingly to the operation, historians note that the British still harbored persistent doubts about whether Overlord would succeed.

The decision to mount the invasion was cemented at the Teheran Conference held in November and December 1943. Joseph Stalin, on his first trip outside the Soviet Union since 1912, pressed Roosevelt and Churchill for details about the plan, particularly the identity of the supreme commander of Overlord. Churchill and Roosevelt told Stalin that the invasion “would be possible” by August 1, 1944, but that no decision had yet been made to name a supreme commander. To this latter point, Stalin pointedly rejoined, “Then nothing will come of these operations. Who carries the moral and technical responsibility for this operation?” Churchill and Roosevelt acknowledged the need to name the commander without further delay. Shortly after the conference ended, Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower to that position.

By May 1944, 2,876,000 Allied troops were amassed in southern England. While awaiting deployment orders, they prepared for the assault by practicing with live ammunition. The largest armada in history, made up of more than 4,000 American, British, and Canadian ships, lay in wait. More that 1,200 planes stood ready to deliver seasoned airborne troops behind enemy lines, to silence German ground resistance as best they could, and to dominate the skies of the impending battle theater. Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas predicated on the need for optimal tidal conditions, Eisenhower decide before dawn on June 5 to proceed with Overlord. Later that same afternoon, he scribbled a note intended for release, accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and full blame should the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast fail. Much more polished is his printed Order of the Day for June 6, 1944, which Eisenhower began drafting in February. The order was distributed to the 175,000-member expeditionary force on the eve of the invasion.

Eisenhower’s Order of Day:

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

This was not a war by a steering committee. Neither Obama nor his minions in the White House could write something like this in a 100 years.

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