A Russian Looks at the War in Libya
A take on the conflict that's probably different from the one you've been reading.
I wanted to draw your attention to an article by Anatoly Tsyganok, director of the Center for Military Forecasting in Russia, on the war in Libya. The Russian language original is here. Its appearance in RIA Novosti, the state-owned news agency, suggests it has a certain amount of official sanction. The article includes a summary of the situation to date, some description of the weapons that NATO has used, and NATO shortcomings the action has revealed. The quotes below are from the official English translation which I found a bit clunky.
NATO’s military operation against Libya, conducted mainly by the armed forces of the US, France and Britain, is speeding up the formation of a new system of international relations. At the same time the war serves as a firing ground for testing the strategy of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) in real combat situation as well as the efficiency of new weapons …
US and NATO strategists were wrong counting that the military campaign would be completed in several weeks. Under resolution № 1973 of the UN Security Council, no-fly zone over the air space of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was created, embargo on weapon supplies was introduced and the Libyan assets were frozen. The operation in Libya which was initially to be completed by June 27 was prolonged by 90 days till the end of September.
There have been reports in mass media that a wide-scale ground operation in Libya under the US command is being planned and the troops are expected to be deployed there by October. The Libyan war is the fifth in addition to four wars the US is conducting in Iraq, Afghanistan Pakistan and Yemen… The goals of the US permanent presence in Libya are to punish Gaddafi for his refusal to join USAFRICOM, to drive the Chinese away from Libya and to cut the access to oil resources for Europeans.
If the U. S. begins ground operations in Libya I will be greatly surprised. Flabbergasted. I think it’s far more likely that we will cease our air operations in Libya without a decisive conclusion than that we will begin ground operations there. I am further skeptical of his third speculative objective (to cut the access to oil resources for Europeans). I think that it’s more likely that the objective is to give France and, possibly, Italy a leg up on relations with a future Libyan government with possible increased influence on Libyan oil trade than it is to cut European access to that trade.
150 days of war have revealed the poor state of political and military coordination within NATO. France, which initiated the military operation, could do nothing with Gaddafi without US noise jammers, fuel tankers, AEW planes and cruise missiles. In order to employ dozens of their Tornado bomb fighters against Libya Brits had to leave half of their aircraft fleet in England without spare parts and to stop flights of its defensive fighters. The operation in Libya is a localized military conflict and if Europeans have problems with the ammunition already a couple months after the beginning of the campaign it would be reasonable to ask them what kind of war they were preparing for?
There is a very different take on the nature of the civil war than you have probably encountered in the Western media:
But NATO underestimated the moral and psychological state of the Libyan troops. The leadership of the US and NATO supposed that after the first strikes the army of Gaddafi will be defeated and the Libyan soldiers would begin to yield themselves prisoners, but the army of Gaddafi managed to keep its combat effectiveness. The Libyan army in March and the Libyan army in July of 2011 are two different armies in terms of tactics, effectiveness and courage. Those soldiers learn very fast. The task on the liquidation of the Libyan combat power remained unfulfilled. NATO and the US failed to gain full control over the coastline and the Western part of Libya.
Unexpectedly for the Western coalition, most of the population supported Gaddafi. According to mass media, about 70% of citizens of Libya either support their leader or stay neutral. The governmental troops are supported by the units of local defense (a reserve component of the armed forces) and the militia. It means that the leaders of the operation against Libya see the rebel minority not the majority which is loyal to Gaddafi as “peaceful population”.
Estimated costs of the operation:
As of June 3, the US’ expenditure on operation in Libya (only Pentagon related costs) amounted to $715.9 mln. The US servicemen supplied humanitarian aid worth $1 million, while another $1 mln was spent on replenishment of reserves of the US Defense Ministry. By September 30, the Libyan campaign will consume another $400 mln. Storm Shadow and Tomahawk missiles launched from submarines cost $1.1 million and ₤800,000 pounds each.
According to the French Defense Ministry, as of May 3, of total €53 million spent on the United Defender operation €31.7 million ($ 45.1 mln) was spent on the ammunition.
As of May 8, Great Britain’s expenditures on guided high precision weapon amounted ₤43.77 million ($71.8 million).
Sending 4 Tornado GR4 bombers, 3 Europe Typhoon jet fighters and support aircraft costs ₤3.216 million daily. One hour of operation of Tornado plane costs ₤33,000, including fuel, maintenance and crew training. Typhoon costs ₤80,000 per hour. Italy’s Defense Minister Ignazio la Russa announced that his country had reduced costs on participation in the operation in Libya from €142 million to €60 million).
By September 30, that total costs on the operation in Libya are expected to reach $1.1 billion.
The article isn’t long and contains some interesting details that, if they’ve been reported in the American press at all, have been hidden in the back pages. Obviously, I have no ability to vouch for the veracity of any of the facts reported.