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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A War by Steering Committee

“A piece of spaghetti or a military unit can only be led from the front end”. — General George S. Patton

Among the stated targets for Allied bombing in Libya are “command and control facilities.” Days of intense bombing have succeeded in completely destroying command and control. Unfortunately, it’s our command structure that’s falling apart.

The UK Daily Mail takes stock of the grim carnage: Germany is actually withdrawing ships and planes from NATO in order to avoid being swept into Operation Odyssey Dawn. Obama wants to hand the operation over to what’s left of NATO, but Turkey says it will not allow that. Italy says it will take back the airbases it has committed to the effort, “unless a NATO coordination structure was agreed.”

The Arab League has already vanished, leaving behind a hastily scribbled note that it still really totally supports the operation it demanded, but it didn’t realize that aerial bombardments occasionally kill people, so it’s going to hang out in the basement and listen to some old Joan Baez albums for a while until it finds a way to cope.

So who is supplying the military power to enforce the no-fly zone? Here is the latest rundown:

  • US: B-2 stealth bombers; EA-18G Growler and AV-8B Harrier aircraft; destroyers USS Barry and USS Stout firing Tomahawk cruise missiles; amphibious assault ship USS Kearsage; command and control vessel USS Mount Whitney; submarines
  • France: Rafale and Mirage aircraft; refueling and surveillance aircraft; aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and escort ships
  • UK: Typhoon and Tornado aircraft; refueling and surveillance aircraft; Trafalgar-class submarine firing Tomahawk cruise missiles; frigates HMS Westminster and HMS Cumberland
  • Italy: Tornado aircraft; providing military bases
  • Canada: F-18 aircraft; frigate HMCS Charlottetown
  • Spain: F-18 aircraft; refueling and surveillance aircraft; frigate and submarine; military bases
  • Denmark: F-16 aircraft
  • Belgium: F-16 aircraft

Some allies are even questioning whether a no-fly zone is still necessary, given the damage already done by air strikes to Gaddafi's military capabilities.

Speaking about yesterday's hastily arranged meeting of NATO allies, one diplomat said: 'The meeting became a little bit emotional,' before adding that France had argued that the coalition led by Britain, the United States and France should retain political control of the mission, with NATO providing operational support, including command-and-control capabilities.

Others are saying “NATO should have command or no role at all and that it doesn't make sense for NATO to play a subsidiary role,” the diplomat added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested that air strikes launched after a meeting in Paris hosted by France on Saturday had gone beyond what had been sanctioned by a U.N. Security Council resolution.

British cabinet ministers have said the Libyan operation could last “up to 30 years,” but that’s a worst-case scenario. They’ll have a better idea of how long it could last “in a week,” and may be prepared to fine-tune their estimate 31 years from now. When the British government floated the idea that we could wrap things up a lot faster by targeting Gaddafi, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates “hit back at the suggestion” by calling it “unwise.”

The French want to resolve all this by forming a committee. Perhaps they could call it the Committee for Public Safety and headquarter it in Vichy.

It looks as if liberals will have to quietly flush the “Obama is a genius of international diplomacy” talking point, which was silly anyway. It’s as dead as the “whole world loves us now” and “Muslims respect Obama” narratives. (Imagine George Bush snapping these photos the day after launching a military campaign against a Muslim country, which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already taken to calling a “crusade.”)Gaddafi's forces have taken a pounding from allied air offensives. The news comes as Italy has warned it may withdraw use of its military bases if no NATO agreement is reached

The speed of the Coalition’s disintegration is not even a sign of average diplomacy. How could Obama have launched an operation like this without, at a minimum, making sure it wouldn’t tear NATO apart in less than a week?

KT McFarland writes in her opinion piece on Fox News: “For a man who ran as the anti-war candidate, President Obama sure is trigger-happy.”

“We’re now in our third war in the Middle East, and if the rationale for the Libyan War is a guide, it may not stop there. President Obama has opened up a whole new line of work for the U.S. military – to intervene in other countries’ civil wars to protect their citizens from their leaders. But not to worry… he’s going to do it in a limited way – limited mission, limited use of force, limited role in a coalition. No ground troops, hence no U.S. casualties.”

“But war isn’t a game where you get to kill enemies on a computer screen but don’t have to suffer losses yourself. Real war isn’t clean or neat or over quickly. The fundamental rule of warfare: is things NEVER go as you planned, you have to expect the unexpected. That’s why we have to be clear about both the military and political missions before we go in. They’re bound to change once the real war begins. If you don’t know where you’re headed before you set out, you’ll never know when you’ve arrived.”

Libyan rebels retreat from the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi. Nato members are also fighting over who will take command of allied forces“Both of those missions are muddled with the Libyan. What’s the military goal? To kill Qaddafi? To leave Qaddafi in power but force him to stop killing his people? To back up the rebels so they can defeat Qaddafi on their own? Who’s fighting with us, and who is calling the shots? President Obama? The French? The British? The Pentagon? Secretary Clinton? And by the way, what ever happened to the Arab League? They initially backed a no-fly zone, but are having second thoughts now that people are getting killed. What if Qaddafi escapes to fight a prolonged insurgency?”

“Even if we succeed militarily, what is the political objective? To turn Libya over to the rebels? We don’t even know who the rebels are! They’re not unified or battle ready. They may be committed, but at this point they’re not capable. Could we live with a two state solution?”

“Defense Secretary Gates says we will hand over operations in a few days. But to whom? NATO? Alliance member Turkey, was against the Libyan operation from the start. The French? The British? The Arab League?”

The cost of the American and European assault on Libya already easily tops hundreds of millions of dollars, and has the potential to rise significantly if the operation drags on for weeks or months.

Coalition efforts to undermine Muammar al-Gaddafi’s air defenses and save the rebels from defeat have lasted for four nights already. If the U.S. role continues to be limited, with the Pentagon using its existing budget to cover the expense, the price tag on involvement will only rise moderately.

As of Tuesday, a U.S. defense official told Fox News the U.S. has fired 161 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libyan territory, with 24 missiles being fired overnight Monday into Tuesday. Each missile is priced at $1 million to $1.5 million apiece and dispatched B-2 stealth bombers — round-trip from Missouri — to drop 2,000-pound bombs on Libyan sites.

That’s a total flying time of 25 hours, with the operating cost for one hour priced at least $10,000.

Yet those numbers only provide part of the costs. The B-2 bombers require expensive fuel — and rely on air tankers to refuel in flight — and probably needed parts replaced upon their return to Whiteman Air Force Base. The pilots most certainly will get combat pay.

An array of U.S. warplanes; 11 ships steaming in the Mediterranean, including three submarines, two destroyers and two amphibious ships; and one F-15 fighter jet that crashed, costing $75 million or more — it all adds up to numbers that unnerve budget-conscious lawmakers.

"Every six hours we have another billion-dollar deficit," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "This could cost us a billion dollars there, which means simply another billion-dollar debt that our kids, our grandkids and our great-grandkids are going to have to pay back." And all of the money will be borrowed from China, a nation taking no part in his action.

The Obama administration is sending mixed messages about the direction, purpose and effect of the U.S.-led missile strikes on Libya, with conflicting statements from the top about Gaddafi’s grip on power five days into the campaign.

The campaign may be in the midst of a key transition. A senior defense official told Fox News that missile strikes have essentially ended and that no more Tomahawk missiles are expected to be fired unless necessary. The next step is to hand control over to coalition commanders for patrol of the no-fly zone. But administration officials have not offered a clear picture as to what the no-fly zone is expected to yield.

It appears that Obama’s foreign policy is being made by Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, with Power being the most far left. There are no doubts more moves are afoot as the Soros-linked Samantha Power continues to work with Barack Obama to weaken the concept of American sovereignty and empower the international community at the expense of American independence.

After 62 years this could be the beginning of the end for NATO. The Obama administration has no real interest in continuing the alliance as they look to the United Nations for their guidance. The European members are now rebelling against their forced involvement in military actions in the Middle East and are now looking to the former Soviet Union for partnerships due to their reliance on Putin’s oil and gas. They no longer want to be tied to our incoherent foreign policies and no look to as as a leader. After all, they now have the French to lead them — by committee.

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