Escalation: U.S. Sending Predator Drones To Libya
After stepping back several weeks ago, the U.S. is about to get more involved in the conflict in Libya:
President Obama has approved the use of armed drones over Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Thursday.
The first flights began Thursday, but the drones were recalled because of the weather, said Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The drones can detect hidden enemies by flying closer to the ground than other weapons, he said at a press conference with Gates.
Gates called the drones a “modest contribution” to NATO’s efforts in Libya and a “limited additional role” on the part of the U.S. military.
The defense chief repeated that giving “non-lethal assistance” to Libyans is an “important contribution,” and he noted that American troops aren’t in the country. “I think the president has been firm, for example, on the boots on the ground — there’s no wiggle room on that,” Gates said.
A Predator, of course, is hardly non-lethal assistance and, as we’ve seen in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the possibility of civilian casualties from drone attacks is fairly high, especially in close combat situations in urban environments.