Robert Nisbet / Sky News & Drew Brooks / McClatchy Newspapers – 2011-03-26 00:32:27
US May Supply Gaddafi Rebels With Weapons
Robert Nisbet, US correspondent / Sky News
(March 25, 2011) — One of the unintended consequences of United Nations’ Resolution 1970 was to starve the rebels of the weapons they would need to take on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. It requires all UN members to “immediately take the necessary measures” to prevent the supply or sale of weapons to the Libyan government — with no exemption for anti-Gaddafi forces.
But Sky News now understands the US is looking at a legal framework to allow limited supplies of arms to the rebels, if they can prove they need them to defend themselves from attack. Mark Kornblau, spokesman for US Ambassador Dr Susan Rice, confirmed it was a possibility. “Resolutions 1970 and 1973, read together, neither specify nor preclude such an action,” he said.
Britain and France are also reported to be considering the legal options.
A diplomat from a member state participating in the coalition told Sky News the purpose of the resolution was clear. He said: “It authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack. Our focus is now on implementing that paragraph through the action being taken by the coalition. Everything we do will be consistent with the United Nations Security Resolution and with international law.”
Earlier, David Cameron had seemed to dismiss the prospect in the Commons, when he said: “I think I am right in saying that the resolution is clear. There is an arms embargo and that arms embargo has to be enforced across Libya.”
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says the UN is not trying to “change a regime” but provide protection to “save the lives” of innocent civilians. He said his special envoy had told the Libyan government that the Security Council could consider “additional measures” if Gaddafi continued to flout the conditions of Resolution 1973.
But it is unlikely the riven council would agree to any ground force, in addition to policing the no-fly zone. Resolution 1973 specifically excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”
Russia and China have already expressed unhappiness with the coalition’s activity in Libya.
Special Forces May Have Role in Libya
North Carolina Troops Could See Action
Drew Brooks / McClatchy Newspapers
(March 24, 2011) — While US military involvement in Libya has been limited to strikes from the air and sea, analysts say it’s possible that US Special Forces soldiers could become involved in the conflict.
Retired Gen. Dan McNeill, a former commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps, said he trusts the Obama administration’s assertion that there will be no ground invasion. But analysts say the use of Special Forces soldiers is an option.
Their use would represent a “middle ground” between a full invasion and the current airstrikes and would help bolster rebel fighters by providing weapons and expertise, said David Gray, a retired Air Force officer and professor of international security at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Fayetteville State University.
“It is a distinct option,” Gray said.
Fort Bragg is home to the Army’s Special Operations Command, Special Forces Command and the 3rd Special Forces Group. The 3rd Special Forces Group focuses on operations in U.S. Africa Command, which includes Libya.
Michael O’Hanlon, a national security and defense policy expert with the Brookings Institution in Washington, said Special Forces soldiers would be uniquely qualified to deliver weapons and training to rebel groups, something that he said already has been discussed.
O’Hanlon and Gray agree that a conventional ground war is unlikely, and US officials have repeatedly downplayed that possibility. “It’s not out of the question, but it is extremely unlikely,” O’Hanlon said.
Gray said whether ground forces become involved depends on the ultimate goals of the recent airstrikes.
If US, NATO or UN leaders are set on ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, then troops may be necessary, Gray said. “What is our objective? If it’s getting Gadhafi out, will the air campaign be enough? I’m very suspicious,” Gray said. “I’m not confident or sure that’s going to be enough.”
Gray said he has been surprised by the level of commitment from U.S. forces in Libya, which continue to bombard Gadhafi’s defenses with airstrikes and cruise missiles fired from offshore. “It’s more than I expected,” he said. “I wouldn’t have anticipated involvement.”
Whether further involvement is needed, Gray said, will depend on the capabilities of the rebels fighting government forces in Libya. Tribal politics — similar to what has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan — also will play a role, he said. “Where are the allegiances for the various tribes? Can they pull together?” Gray said.
In any event, he said, efforts to remove Gadhafi may be hampered by an international community wary about any invasive force. “If the object is just to obtain air superiority, then we’ve done that, check,” Gray said. “Will any U.S. troops be on the ground? I’m not sure the international community is ready to put troops on the ground.”
O’Hanlon believes there are other scenarios in which ground forces may be necessary. He said those include one in which rebels are being routed and the international community pushes for ground forces to help protect rebel cities. Another, he said, is if troops are needed as part of a peacekeeping force. “I’m not predicting that this would happen,” O’Hanlon said. “But it’s possible.”
McNeill said if ground troops are needed, Fort Bragg soldiers will be ready and willing to respond.
A deployment to Libya would be a small concern for a Fort Bragg soldier who is trained and conditioned to respond quickly to international events, McNeill said. “It’s nothing new for them,” he said. “I don’t doubt that there’s concern among families, but [for soldiers] this is the way of life.”
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