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March 14, 2011

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"Tell me how this ends."

Badly.

Yeah Rob, that's the "shorter" version of this post.

The case for supporting the rebels, or not supporting the rebels, is not obvious. More to the point, how best to provide such support is not clear.

However, given that there is a significant internal opposition, removing Qaddafi probably ranks with removing Mugabe as a "good thing" in itself. And just giving logistical support would probably be a significant factor.

As for Exum's comment that, "Benghazi had sent more foreign fighters to Iraq than any other city in the Arabic-speaking world," that fact can be taken two ways. It may indicate that there is more inclination to radicalism there. Or it could arguable be taken to suggest that the radicals have sorted themselves out and left, thus leaving the city less radical than it was.

Granted that the former is more likely. But assuming that it is a certainty is perhaps not the best starting point for determining policy.

Granted that the former is more likely. But assuming that it is a certainty is perhaps not the best starting point for determining policy.

For the record, I don't assume it is a certainty. Mine was a question, that contained a point, about the fact that we are largely ignorant of the composition of rebel elements and their goals.

There are tribal cleavages and grievances underlying a large portion of the resistance. In that instance, victory for the rebels might not translate into democracy. In fact, it could create a prolonged insurgency amongst those tribal groups affiliate with/that benefit from Qaddafi.

However, given that there is a significant internal opposition, removing Qaddafi probably ranks with removing Mugabe as a "good thing" in itself. And just giving logistical support would probably be a significant factor.

I doubt logistical support would be enough. And still, the questions remain: what do we do in the aftermath if successful, or not?

As usual Eric, nice job.

it is not our problem. and we should not make it our problem. we are not the world's policeman.

Would supporters of the no-fly zone on either side of the aisle support a tax increase to pay for it?

Has any reporter asked them this question? If not, why not?

If supporters clamor loudly enough for the no-fly zone, The President, such as he is, should propose one and send a tax increase to the Congress to pay for it.

Include a little extra margin for Planned Parenthood and the Special Olympics, and maybe for that coolant delivered in Japan.

When they turn the tax-increase down, the President should direct the Treasury to default on the entire $14 trillion national debt.

Just burn it down.

You'll need a fly-over zone covering the entire United States.

But you can't afford it.

Are pundits/politicians sitting around in China and/or (before the recent unfortunate events) Japan asking whether they should impose a no-fly zone or take some other military measure with respect to Libya?

There is the Machievellian rule that when you face two groups you can support, you go all-in for the one you want. The canonical example is a famine striking two regions- take all of the grain from one and send it to the other. The people of the second region will love you, and the people of the first region will be dead...
If K survives this, then he will be upset with the support that the rebels have received (both practical and in sentiment). If the rebels win they will have no love for a UN and a NATO that was willing to watch them get slaughtered.

Now, is that better than betting on the wrong horse? Im not sure. But the possibility of a K regime rededicated to destabilizing actions is different than thinking that not supporting the rebels will lead to status quo ante bellum.
[Not that you said that, but it's worth explicitly underlining this point- the bang is not going back into the firecracker here.]

Likewise, if the rebels win, today or 5 years from now, it will be better to have some clout with them. You make that clout into a negative ('are we willing to pick winners?'). Or even simultaneously say 'we may not be able to control them, and that's bad- but then if we can control them, that's bad too.'- at least that's how Im reading this.

I dont know enough about the rebels or the political situation in Libya to have an strong opinion on this question- I think it depends a great deal on what the likely endgames are for either outcome (or middle grounds such as the 'Egyptian solution' of ousting the dictator but maintaining the existing tyrannical apparatus in tension with the newly-empowered masses). And I think we probably ought to err on the side of inaction if we're not sure.
I guess, fundamentally, I don't think your approach works for me though- even if I want to err on the side of inaction, I don't want to get paralyzed by every possible bad outcome of intervention while ignoring every possible bad outcome of nonintervention.

It really seems like an EU/Eurozone issue to me. Libya is in part a mess due to colonialization from the French, Brits, and Italians, the EU will bear the brunt of any mass exodus of refugees, the EU has the preponderence of capital invested, and the EU gets the preponderence of high grade oil.

If there is a need for any form of support to the rebels, I think it should be those with a stake in the outcome that bear the cost in both treasure and blood.

But I wouldn't be against selling some hardware to the EU if they find they don't have the capacity to perform anything useful.

But I wouldn't be against selling some hardware to the EU if they find they don't have the capacity to perform anything useful.

So you think the EU doesn't have modern military aircraft? Tanks? etc. Just curious what would make anyone say this.

So you think the EU doesn't have modern military aircraft? Tanks? etc. Just curious what would make anyone say this.

I didn't interpret it that way at all. As I understand it (and jrudkis probably understands it better), there is a real shortage of heavy lift capability outside the US military, even in otherwise modern militaries like those of France, the UK, etc. Tanks are useless if you can't get them to the battlefield in a timely fashion.

Back during the Rwanda crisis, this was a real issue as the African Union seemed willing to pony up forces but they had no heavy lift capability....

So you think the EU doesn't have modern military aircraft?

Good aircraft; not so good targeting systems.

Likewise, if the rebels win, today or 5 years from now, it will be better to have some clout with them. You make that clout into a negative ('are we willing to pick winners?').

My point here is that "the rebels" are not a cohesive, monolithic group, so if "the rebels" win and then "the rebels" start fighting amongst themselves, will we or could we effectively pick winners?

I guess, fundamentally, I don't think your approach works for me though- even if I want to err on the side of inaction, I don't want to get paralyzed by every possible bad outcome of intervention while ignoring every possible bad outcome of nonintervention.

I am not suggesting such an approach, nor am I so paralyzed. I supported the intervention in Afghanistan, for example, despite the questions.

But I'm not sure events in Libya are so vital to our national interests to get involved when we have very little discussion of what the objective would be, and whether such an objective is feasible.

Good aircraft; not so good targeting systems.

Good enough to take on the Libyans though, I strongly suspect.

Likewise on transport capacity- according to Wikipedia France has 14 C-130s and 51 C-160s. Many African nations may lack transport, but we're talking about the country with the 3rd- or 4th-largest military budget in the world ferchrisake. They've got an aircraft carrier. They've got several amphibious military transports.
And that's just France, I dont want to bother looking up the rest of the EU bc Im pretty sure that'd be sufficient transport to take on a military that's just holding its own against irregulars.

a military that's just holding its own against irregulars.

All recent reports that I've seen is that the Libyan army is making serious advances, w/rebel forces in full retreat.

PS: The UK doesn't have an aircraft carrier anymore.

But I'm not sure events in Libya are so vital to our national interests to get involved when we have very little discussion of what the objective would be, and whether such an objective is feasible.

Sure. But we must also take into account what's happening there and how it might turn out in the absence of our intervention. You pose several questions that would have to be answered before we intervene. But I could just as easily imagine posing similar questions that we would have to answer before we decided *not* to intervene eg could these events push K towards radical groups or regimes, and lead to a reckless action such as providing terrorists with WMDs?
Not saying that that will happen or is likely, Ive not enough time these days to get deeply into Libyan politics. Just as an example of how this situation is dynamic, not static, and therefore we cannot consider your questions for intervention in the vacuum in which they were actually presented.

Ignoring the various levels of support etc we could give, simplify the decision to yes/no. Then, one year or five years from now, we face 2 possible futures. The national interest is: is it worth the cost in money and lives to pick between these two outcomes? *Both* of which contain considerable uncertainty, humanitarian issues, etc?

The way you've presented it, it seems that we'd be deciding between intervention, and all of the risks that that poses, and nonintervention with zero risk and zero questions to be answered.

PS: The UK doesn't have an aircraft carrier anymore.

France does. Which is what I said.
And the UK actually does too. Spain has one. Italy has two.

So yes, the creaky European military machine can probably take on Libya without having to borrow hardware from the US.

So you think the EU doesn't have modern military aircraft? Tanks? etc. Just curious what would make anyone say this.

One quote that I can no longer find indicated that during time of the Kosovo war, the EU spent 60% of the defense dollars for 10% of the capacity of the US. I spent some time looking but it was from 1999, and is buried.

The disparity of capacity is significant when it comes to force projection, but even when it is Europe's backyard, as in Kosovo, the US had to provide the lion's share of the force:

The air campaign is now costing the United States around $1bn a month for munitions, fuel and other operating costs. As the number of aircraft committed to the operation increases, this rate of spending is likely to rise further.

Other Nato members are providing far fewer aircraft than the US. Nevertheless, Britain, France and Germany are probably now spending around $100m a month each on the operation. The entire Nato campaign may therefore be costing around $1.5bn a month.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report
/1998/kosovo/341869.stm

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the Kosovo war demonstrated just how far Nato's European members are behind the US in the military punch that they get from their existing spending.

Mr Cohen drew attention to this. "The disparity in capabilities, if not corrected, could threaten the unity of this alliance, he said.

" A great alliance cannot have only one country, the US, conducting virtually two-thirds of the all support sorties and half of all combat missions."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/
545597.stm

I do not believe that since the Kosovo conflict that Europe has significantly increased its ability to project force.

So yes, the creaky European military machine can probably take on Libya without having to borrow hardware from the US.

Hopefully. Libya is obviously different from Kosovo. I just want the EU to be able to deal with it without us.

Good enough to take on the Libyans though

I'd want to be a bit more specific and take on the Libyan military.

;)

And the UK actually does too.

Not exactly:

However, Illustrious is of "ski-jump" design and has no aircraft assigned to it, nor are any even available anywhere in the UK's arsenal. Harrier jets, the only type Illustrious can handle, are no longer in service there

The same post interesting bits on France's carrier:

http://bit.ly/dNqHRo

Also,

But I could just as easily imagine posing similar questions that we would have to answer before we decided *not* to intervene eg could these events push K towards radical groups or regimes, and lead to a reckless action such as providing terrorists with WMDs?

I would love to hear those questions. Sincerely. I don't think they're being asked, though one would imagine that they should be of paramount importance.

As an aside, I've always thought that us intervening militarily would have a much higher probability of pushing K to the extremist side than not intervening militarily.

But, lastly, a large point of this post is to highlight that the supposedly sterile, limited appeal of a NFZ would likely lead to much greater involvement, including, with some likelihood, nation building and possible counterinsurgency/civil war interdiction.

Whereas, those outcomes would be easier to avoid if we don't initiate military intervention.

Otherwise, please ask the questions.

Harriers were pulled from carrier deployment so recently (last November) that it's be a piece of cake to redeploy if needed.

How quickly slarti? NFZ timeframe being what it is, are we talking days, weeks, or months?

In fact, Harriers were flying combat missions in Afghanistan a year and a half ago, and should be UK's best (and possibly EU's best & most accurate) targeting platform. Not as agile as some of the other airframes, but it can get the air-to-ground job done better, in my estimation.

I am not privy to that information, Eric. It was news to me that Harrier had been taken out of service, really. Last I head heard (and this was I think within the last year) they had just built a new OFP (flight code) for the Harrier.

Funny how suddenly this can happen. They're going to replace the Harrier with the F-35; wonder how long it's going to take to build their force back up? F-35 isn't going to be a deliverable aircraft for another four years, I think.

Likewise, if the rebels win, today or 5 years from now, it will be better to have some clout with them.

CW, I'm a good deal more hawkish, or I was, than EM, but I still can't get easy with this. Among other things, we don't know which rebel faction, if any, will prevail, and even if the one we helped did prevail, what good reasons do we have for thinking we'd get the credit we'd like to have?

Moreover, any gov't that comes to power with our aid is inherently tainted in the eyes of so many in that region.

If the Europeans want to make a go of it, I would offer only AWACS type support. But I don't think they have the legs. All of the European carriers are VTOL/helicopter vessels, none of which have the heft to tangle with even K's outdated but superior fighters. And remember, bullets and missiles fly both ways. It would be worse than bad for a European carrier to go down.

As I understand a 'no fly' zone, the first order of business is to permanently suppress the target's radar and anti aircraft defenses. We do this well, and so do the Europeans using our assets for all but the actual flying part.

Perhaps if they staged out of Sicily, land based, more capable aircraft could be brought to bear. Crete would be better, but I don't know where the Greeks stand on this and I can't even say that, based out of either island, air superiority fighters would have the loiter time needed to effectively ground the Libyan air force.

Not to start an OT battle, but when countries cut defense spending to the point the Europeans have, options become limited. Not a critical issue in this instance, but the day may come when all of those saved dollars turn out to be a very sadly postponed reckoning.

Anyway, while I hate the idea of innocents getting chopped up by a bastard like K, our involvement is a multi-edged sword, with too many of the blades cutting against us.

but it can get the air-to-ground job done better, in my estimation.

But, the issue is air-to-air, isn't it? Harriers don't do this well, too slow.

F-35 isn't going to be a deliverable aircraft for another four years, I think.

The VTOL version is having a lot of problems, from what little I've seen. That's what the Europeans want, IIRC. Their carriers can't do full-on jet stuff.

Not to start an OT battle, but when countries cut defense spending to the point the Europeans have, options become limited. Not a critical issue in this instance, but the day may come when all of those saved dollars turn out to be a very sadly postponed reckoning.

Repeating my question in this post: how do proponents of the NFZ/additional support plan to come up with the tens of billions of dollars required?

Tax increase?

Spending offsets?

Deficits don't matter for this (but everything else)?

To Carleton's point, to the extent Obama has said publicy it is time for Qaddafi to go, we have effectively taken sides, or at least our side is "Not Qaddafi." So, if he's the victor in this battle, we're stuck with him and, I assume, that means we're back to the 1980s and him stirring up trouble (or wanting to).

Not sure that tips the scale to intervention, but it's not like we're going to be doing business with him (so to speak) in the near future.

Tax increase?

Spending offsets?

Deficits don't matter for this (but everything else)?

Don't you owe us a magnum opus on future defense needs/force structures? How's that little assignment coming along?

Many smiley faces.

Re some remarks above, I have a fundamental disagreement about how the argument is conducted. I don't think the burden of making justifying arguments should rest equally on the non-interventionists and on the interventionists alike. If the interventionists think that killing wholesale bundles of people will advance the national interest, it's up to them to demonstrate that, not up to me to demonstrate that not killing them will work out well in every scenario I can contemplate. People explicitly advocating war (the killing and maiming of large numbers of people) SHOULD carry a vastly heavier burden to explain why they're advocating that and how they've carefully considered every possible means of making it as limited and effective as possible. War is, or ought to be, a morally problematic thing because it is killing, which is bad enough by itself, but it also frequently leads to unanticipated and horrible results for those affected by it, as demonstrated by our own recent history. Mr. Martin puts the burden of persuasion where it ought to rest, with those who want us to wage war and (inevitably) renew many of these terrible results for the people of Libya.

But, the issue is air-to-air, isn't it? Harriers don't do this well, too slow.

The issue is both. If you own the air over the battlespace, you can hit their aircraft while they're still on the ground. OTOH if you don't have aircraft decently configured for ground attack, you're guaranteed to have to resort to an air-to-air role. I'm sure that strategists are working out various plans of attack.

But, agreed, Harrier vs. MiG-25 is probably not the matchup you'd want. Harrier vs. MiG-25 still on the ground is more like it.

There's always dropping heavy ordnance on their airbases using long-range bombers out of Diego Garcia, but that brings US back into the game I think.

Damn you McTex!

If the interventionists think that killing wholesale bundles of people will advance the national interest

I don't believe anyone has proposed that, in this thread.

The disparity of capacity is significant when it comes to force projection, but even when it is Europe's backyard, as in Kosovo, the US had to provide the lion's share of the force

First, there is a significant leap from the actual 'did' and your unfounded 'had to'.
And I would find the statement of a single BBC reporter to be more convincing if it were backed by data or were more specific. The EU nations can contribute iirc a couple hundred fourth-generation aircraft- what prevents them from making a larger contribution? Were those aircraft not flight-ready? Did they not have the trained support crews, spare parts, pilots etc to handle a deployment? And, if so, has that changed since the Serbian conflict which was well over a decade ago?

Hopefully. Libya is obviously different from Kosovo. I just want the EU to be able to deal with it without us.

That's odd, it sounds to me like you very much want the EU not to be able to deal with it. At least, if we trust that your obvious biases in finding and interpreting data exist in support of your hopes rather than contrary to them, as is usually the case in my experience.

War is, or ought to be, a morally problematic thing because it is killing, which is bad enough by itself, but it also frequently leads to unanticipated and horrible results for those affected by it, as demonstrated by our own recent history.

Id be more inclined to agree with that regarding starting a war, as opposed to entering one already in progress with the hope of affecting the outcome. Altho I still think that the default is to not intervene, Id disagree with "vastly heavier burden".
If someone can make a solid case that where Libya is headed without intervention is considerably worse- for Libyians or for us- than it is with intervention, Im good with that.

Not exactly

Exactly. I say the French have an aircraft carrier. You reply that no, the UK doesnt have an aircraft carrier. I say, well, yeah actually both of them do. You say, well, it doesn't have any aircraft since the harriers were decommissioned.

So after a couple of iterations, you've actually arrived at an accurate statement. Glad to be of assistance.

The same post interesting bits on France's carrier

Interesting bits- they had some trouble with the propulsion systems and it had to get repairs for a month or so. But it's working now, according to your link. Interesting yes. And yet, they still have an aircraft carrier, and they are still not the UK...

And the EU could still enforce a no-fly zone from Sicily and the French carrier, or make a pretty good go of it.

I would love to hear those questions. Sincerely. I don't think they're being asked, though one would imagine that they should be of paramount importance.

I don't think Ive got the info or expertise to formulate the right questions. That wasn't really the point- just that our national interest could be seriously impacted by inaction, and that this didn't seem to be on the scale in your analysis. The point that a NFZ could easily lead us down the road to a more serious commitment is a good one and well worth raising- I agree that if we were to commit to a NFZ it ought to be because we understand that path forward and the decisions it holds, not because we hold the illusion that it will all necessarily stop there.

All of the European carriers are VTOL/helicopter vessels, none of which have the heft to tangle with even K's outdated but superior fighters.

The French aircraft carrier can handle non-VTOL aircraft.
And Im not so sure that a 2nd gen Harrier V MIG-23 combat is a sure win for the MIGs, especially when pilot quality, awacs/ground support, etc is considered. Not saying I know jack about that, just that I wouldnt be so quick to dismiss them. The first gen did Ok in the Falklands War against non-VTOL aircraft iirc.

Not to start an OT battle, but when countries cut defense spending to the point the Europeans have, options become limited.

The EU spend 322B on defense in 2009 (cite). That's over 3x as much as China, 5x Russia, 6x India, and close to 300x Libya's defense budget. Excluding the US military budget, the EU is responsible for about 40% of the world's military budget.
How much do you want them to spend?

Interesting yes. And yet, they still have an aircraft carrier, and they are still not the UK...

Right. I never said either of the following:

1. France has no carrier.
2. France is the UK.

Nor did I say that "interesting" meant France's carrier is unusable.

I say the French have an aircraft carrier. You reply that no, the UK doesnt have an aircraft carrier.

No, that's not the exchange.

You did post that France had a carrier, and that you didn't know about the rest of the EU.

I didn't reply "no, the UK doesn't have an aircraft carrier" - I simply pointed out that the UK didn't have one anymore in reference to the "rest of the EU" discussion.

I was relying on some recent chatter about no usable carriers, but it is technically true that they have one (just not one that can carry any presently deployed aircraft, which renders it useless as a platform to launch air sorties).

Damn you McTex!

Stand in line, amigo.

Id be more inclined to agree with that regarding starting a war, as opposed to entering one already in progress with the hope of affecting the outcome.

Fair point. Not a game winner here, but still a fair point in the abstract.

The first gen did Ok in the Falklands War against non-VTOL aircraft iirc.

Against outdated A-4's, a ground attack jet, not a purpose built fighter. And, the Brits still lost ships to air-launched missile attack. French missiles, IIRC.

How much do you want them to spend?

As much as they need to fulfill a mission they think is in their vital national interests. Comparing Russia, China or India defense spending to Europe or the US is not apples to oranges, it's meat to vegetables. You can eat either, but they are still different in kind--different missions, different personnel costs, etc. False equivalency is a phrase I see a lot here.

Generally, VTOL are close air support/ground attack aircraft that only operate in hostile theaters with an overhead CAP or against an opponent with no fighters in its inventory.

This is from an interesting article printed in 2007 by the European Union Center of North Carolina. The European Union Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is funded by the European
Union to advance knowledge and understanding of the EU and its member countries.

All the same, Europe’s military feebleness remains, to a certain extent, a matter of perspective. While European forces are said to possess only 10% of US capabilities for 60% of the US budget, NATO Europe, collectively, still commands the second largest defense budget in the world. Indeed, Europe’s current defense expenditure of approximately US $240 billion is the equivalent of the next six largest defense spenders put together (China, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea). Moreover, Europe’s defense industry maintains considerable capabilities and European armies are
gradually acquiring many of the same types of high-tech equipment and munitions that
are employed by the US. Does that mean that European military capabilities have been
falsely underestimated?

...

Europe’s inability to muster an autonomous military response became apparent for the first time during the Balkan crises of the early 1990s. While the Bosnian crisis (1991-95) was supposed to demonstrate Europe’s ability to deal with its own problems – the “hour of Europe” – Europe failed miserably. European policy-makers could neither muster the political will nor the necessary military forces to prevent the region from sliding into
chaos. The small contingent of European forces that was eventually deployed was illequipped, lacked a clear mandate, and had little impact on the final outcome of the war. Similarly, NATO’s Kosovo campaign in 1999 turned out to be a largely American-run campaign, with European aircraft making only a limited contribution – approximately
30% of all sorties. By the end of the 1990s, Europe, therefore, appeared embarrassingly feeble and incapable of independent military action. Determined to overcome these weaknesses, Britain and France, Europe’s principle military powers, pledged to reconcile their political differences and to develop military capabilities that would enable them to
act more effectively in the changed international environment.

...

Potential shortfalls that remain are limitations in strategic transport and logistics that could affect the reaction time of European forces and the size and length of their deployment.

• Humanitarian and rescue tasks that involve high-intensity operations over shortperiods of time and involve a limited number of specialized troops involved. Again, EU forces are fully capable of fulfilling these tasks, with the same recognized shortfalls in strategic transport and sustainability.

• Crisis management and combat tasks of small and medium scale. Here capabilities
shortfalls continue to be the most significant. Due to the limited number of troops available for the execution of these tasks, no full operational capability has been attained. Moreover, shortfalls in command and control, intelligence and precision guided munitions increase the risk of casualties and collateral damage.

http://www.euce.org/assets/doc/
business_media/business/Brief0705
-military-capabilities.pdf

As much as they need to fulfill a mission they think is in their vital national interests. Comparing Russia, China or India defense spending to Europe or the US is not apples to oranges, it's meat to vegetables. You can eat either, but they are still different in kind--different missions, different personnel costs, etc. False equivalency is a phrase I see a lot here.

Well, that's the only quantifiable thing I could come up with. I agree, spending depends on mission, but then you didn't say that. You said: Not to start an OT battle, but when countries cut defense spending to the point the Europeans have, options become limited.
Of course, everyone has limited options. But that statement suggests to me that the EU's options are particularly limited by their spending. But their spending is actually pretty huge, compared to the rest of the world. If their options are limited because of their spending, then they're still much larger than everyone else's, excluding the US.

Of course, I also think that the idea that the EU couldn't take on Libya or enforce a NFZ there is somewhere between doubtful and silly, and motivated by the usual dislike of Europeans rather than any military calculation.

Against outdated A-4's, a ground attack jet, not a purpose built fighter. And, the Brits still lost ships to air-launched missile attack. French missiles, IIRC.

Like I said, I have no idea. How good is Libyian air command and control? How well are their pilots trained? Are their SAM sites well-maintained?
But I suspect you don't know either. Slarti might, at least more than anyone else here. I do know that there's a whole bunch more to air-to-air combat than ideal plane or weapons performance, and that most of those factors (other than the logistical factor of home airspace) will favor the EU.

1. France has no carrier.
2. France is the UK.

Nor did I say that "interesting" meant France's carrier is unusable.

Let's just say that your statement was ambiguous. And that you missed the Spanish and Italian carriers, if you were counting. And that you also missed that the UK's carrier, even if the Harriers weren't recommissioned, can carry VTOl aircraft from other EU nations- very different from not having a carrier.

On my part, apparently I mistook "interesting" for "relevant". My bad.

And that you missed the Spanish and Italian carriers, if you were counting

Jeez CW, I was adding one tidbit from chatter I have heard from Brit friends complaining that Cameron was calling for NFZ but had rendered their one carrier useless. I did not portray that as a full inventory of EU capacity. Not even by implication.

On my part, apparently I mistook "interesting" for "relevant". My bad.

Rather friendly chat with you today. Is something bothering you?

Rather friendly chat with you today. Is something bothering you?

Naw, this is how I always am, Im just usually not arguing with you about stuff. Ask GOB. :)

Of course, I also think that the idea that the EU couldn't take on Libya or enforce a NFZ there is somewhere between doubtful and silly, and motivated by the usual dislike of Europeans rather than any military calculation.

I'm not sure that the EU could take on Libya and enforce a NFZ. And I love Europe. I really do wish the US would adopt some policies pioneered by European countries. So, for me at least, your theories are not correct.

My skepticism stems from my belief that the ability to conduct sustained military operations does not always rise with military expenditures. I mean, Saudi Arabia spends an enormous amount of cash on its military but is, by all accounts, far less capable of conducting operations than its budget would suggest.

Beyond that, I think there are substantial coordination costs when you're talking about an entity as disparate as the EU acting militarily. We struggle mightily to get the different branches of our own military to inter-operate and we all speak the same language and have had a lot of practice running actual operations in hostile theaters. Getting military organizations from a dozen different countries to meaningfully interoperate under fire seems...hard. Not impossible, but difficult. And yeah, I understand that NATO was designed to deal with precisely this set of problems and that joint exercises are done all the time, but working under fire is different.

Perhaps I'm ignorant, but I don't know that the Italian and French navies have operational experience running the sort of sustained carrier ops needed to enforce a NFZ. Scrambling jets at the maximum operational tempo for months at a time without interruption stretches organizations. Do they have experience with that? Having a carrier is different

To the extent that big ticket defense purchases like aircraft carriers and submarines are objects of national prestige, I don't think we can necessarily assume that just because a country has spent lots of money getting an aircraft carrier that they therefore have invested in acquiring the operational capacity needed to use it.

But that statement suggests to me that the EU's options are particularly limited by their spending. But their spending is actually pretty huge, compared to the rest of the world. If their options are limited because of their spending, then they're still much larger than everyone else's, excluding the US.

They spend so much because you are talking about 13, 15 (I am not sure) different countries, each with its own adminstrative core, huge redundancies, etc. No cohesion whatsoever. Add to that that the Europeans, rightly in my view, spent their limited defense dollars on facing a Warsaw Pact threat, not preparing for over the horizon missions. That is, they spent on high tech, survivable, force multipliers that made sense, and still do with the US involved, back in the day, but doesn't leave much for stand alone force projection. But, the main feature, and the main reason why using spending as the metric is misleading are (1) personnel costs, (2) level of training and proficiency, (3) quality of equipment and (4) the incredible amount of redundancy.

Of course, I also think that the idea that the EU couldn't take on Libya or enforce a NFZ there is somewhere between doubtful and silly, and motivated by the usual dislike of Europeans rather than any military calculation.

I actually am quite fond of Europeans, having married one and making it a point to visit there as often as possible. So, you're wrong in that department. More on point, you are mistaking capacity to wage general war with capacity to successfully interdict over the horizon for a sustained period of time. If Europe went to war against Libya, it would win, but it would first have to spend a lot of time and money getting ready.

Could Europe successfully enforce a 'no fly' zone without active US support as in a carrier fleet or two? Depending on how you define "successfully", maybe. If it had basing rights on Libya's borders, that would make a big difference. If it landed troops and set up a perimeter and an airfield to base out of, that would be big, because they could then heavily reinforce with SAMS and more muscular radar, etc. It could also look like a really clumsy and ineffective Goliath if it didn't get the job done quick and decisively (more subjective terms, I admit) or, if it ran out of juice 6 months down the line and pulled out(I wonder if Sarkozy talked to his air force people before he opened his mouth). Jet fighters aren't built to fly 300-400 miles and then circle for 3-4 hours, fight a dog fight, and then come home. Mid air refueling, wear and tear, etc. would degrade a long term committment plus the inventories of the right mix of aircraft is not high.

My eyeballing of a map of the Med indicates the straightline distance from Taranto Italy (the main Italian naval base) to Tripoli to be roughly 1500 KM. Sicily appears to be roughly 1000 KM, farther if you use Palermo as your point of reference.

This is relevant because, for example, the F-16 has a ferry range (most economical, one way cruising speed) of just over 2000 miles or 3200 KM. http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=103. The F-15 get "Range: 3,450 miles (3,000 nautical miles) ferry range with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks." Same source.

None of this lends itself to actual combat operations over Tripoli, much less inland, and even much, much less to maintaining station. Another complicating factor is there is no where to bail out or crash land if something goes wrong. You simply can't mount an SAR with choppers over that distance.

All up, the European community can field 6 carriers (http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail). But none of them can maintain a NFZ long term without at least one, preferably two US carriers in a major supporting role. They probably could force a landing, but that's not a NFZ, that's an invasion.

Even against Libya.

Looks like Turb and I were thinking along the same lines, for the most part.

I'm with Turb & McKT and not motivated by any particular anti-European sentiment, although I don't think you should underestimate how ineffective European forces are compared to the US.

The US just spends vastly more than everyone else and does so consistently over decades while maintaining bases around the world, a dozen gigantic aircraft carriers, hundreds of warships, hundreds of transport and mid-air refueling aircraft, and a strategic bombing force that just doesn't exist in any other Western country.

Europe has a mixture of services in various countries that don't have the same ultimate trust and cooperation that the US does in its armed forces, and that have a wide variety of equipment in service (as every country tries to preserve a domestic defense industry). They don't go on Exciting Foreign Adventures all the time the way the US does, and when they do, it's not usually very successful.

For instance, in the Falklands War - probably the most significant force-projection attempt by any non-US power in the last 30 years - Britain disastrously lost two destroyers and two frigates to a rag-tag & outdated Argentine force that was operating much closer to home. In the end they prevailed, but their losses were much higher than a comparison of the forces on paper might have suggested.

My problem with any intervention in Libya is that I don't think the rebel forces have the capability to win a ground war with Tripoli or even defend the ground they've taken, with or without a NFZ. Ghadaffi supposedly has several billion dollars in cash to pay members of his army and mercenaries, and as we saw in Egypt, money talks - there it was our money talking to the Egyptian military.

It would cheaper and probably more effective to just bribe Ghadaffi's army into mutinying - whatever he offers, double it. That would mean rewarding a bunch of complete assholes with a big pile of cash, to be sure, but I am dubious that any intervention we mount would end up being anything other than giving a big pile of cash to a different group of assholes. cf. Iraq, Afganistan.

I'm not sure that the EU could take on Libya and enforce a NFZ.... My skepticism stems from my belief that the ability to conduct sustained military operations does not always rise with military expenditures.

I get that- if the EU had to project power to the Arabian peninsula or something, against a substantial military like the Saudis, logistics and basing would be a big part of the consideration.
But we're talking about Libya here. I suspect the Italians alone, operating out of Sicily with their F-16s and Typhoons (assisted by their navy), could maintain air superiority over a signficant part of Libya most of the time (remember, they don't need to suppress Libyan planes that aren't anywhere near the rebels, although they could). Suspect- again Im no expert.

Not because the Italian Air Force is particularly a force to be reckoned with. Because the Libyans are flying old planes that probably haven't been maintained well, in conjunction with old SAM systems etc suffering from the same defects. Their training is likely poor. Their morale may be poor. etc.

Perhaps I'm ignorant, but I don't know that the Italian and French navies have operational experience running the sort of sustained carrier ops needed to enforce a NFZ. Scrambling jets at the maximum operational tempo for months at a time without interruption stretches organizations.

This seems disconnected- yeah, it might stretch their capabilities. Their capabilities might degrade over time. Some aircraft might be lost. But that is very different from saying that they couldn't do it.

I just try to picture the scenario in my head where the EU goes all-in to enforce a NFZ; bombers and fighters out of Sicily and Greece, all manner of ships, etc- and it fails. They're driven off by the ancient Libyan air force and SAMs. Dozens of Typhoons knocked down. MIG-23s winning dogfight after dogfight with F-16s.

If you see that, then I don't know what to say. If you see the various EU militaries having communications issues that even occasionally lead to a serious problem, or problems with logistics leading to reduces sorties, that's a very different thing.
I could even see saying that the EU would eventually lack the political will to continue enforcement over a long period of time (if that were, in fact, necessary in this scenario). But that again is very different than claiming that they lack the capability, period.

McTex- same thing. You talk a good game about military matters here, but I just don't see how you can claim to be making an objective analysis when you- at no point- discuss Libyan capabilities. According to this the UK couldn't possibly have won a war against Argentina in the Falklands- look how far it is! They can't project force etc.
The way you tell it, the EU couldn't enforce a NFZ over Libya even if the Libyans all left for Morocco.

Sicily appears to be roughly 1000 KM, farther if you use Palermo as your point of reference.

I checked an airline ticket from malta to tripoli- 233mi. And Malta is much closer to the airbase in Sicily than it is to Tripoli (eyeballing, that is).

Another complicating factor is there is no where to bail out or crash land if something goes wrong. You simply can't mount an SAR with choppers over that distance.

It sure would be awesome if they had 4 or 5 carriers to provide chopper and VTOL aircraft support for operations like that. oh, wait...

although I don't think you should underestimate how ineffective European forces are compared to the US

On the contrary, I don't not think you should fail to underestimate how non-ineffective those forces would be. I think. Im not even sure I can underestimate a comparison, so I may be a bit hazy on the middle bit.

You talk a good game about military matters here, but I just don't see how you can claim to be making an objective analysis when you- at no point- discuss Libyan capabilities. According to this the UK couldn't possibly have won a war against Argentina in the Falklands- look how far it is! They can't project force etc.
The way you tell it, the EU couldn't enforce a NFZ over Libya even if the Libyans all left for Morocco.

OK, here's the stuff on Libya:

Total Land-Based Weapons: 5,761
Tanks: 1,540 [2005]
Armored Personnel Carriers: 750 [2005]
Towed Artillery: 647 [2005]
Self-Propelled Guns: 444 [2005]
Multiple Rocket Launch Systems: 830 [2005]
Mortars: 500 [2005]
Anti-Tank Guided Weapons: 3,000 [2005]
Anti-Aircraft Weapons: 600 [2005]

AIR FORCE
Total Aircraft: 447 [2005]
Helicopters: 67 [2005]
Serviceable Airports: 141 [2007]
Source: http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=Libya

Let's stipulate that Libyan forces are not as well trained, motivated, equipped as Europe. Not a problem. Unless they simply lay down and don't fight, whoever makes up the coalition will have to go in shooting. It's the only way to do it. But, Libya has a decent sized air force of reasonably capable fighters, among other things. More than sufficient to take on any VTOL even allowing for significant qualitative differences between European pilots and Libyan. I couldn't tell you what kind of air-to-air missiles Libya has, but if they are fairly recent Russian/Soviet vintage and if they work, you wouldn't want to try to outmaneuver one in a VTOL, they are too slow. It's the big trade off for the vertical take off/landing component.

Further, absent US AWACS, the European jets would have to have their radar on full time just to monitor air traffic, making them huge targets for radar seeking SAMS.

And note: 141 serviceable airports. That's a lot of places to hide.


According to this the UK couldn't possibly have won a war against Argentina in the Falklands- look how far it is! They can't project force etc.
The way you tell it, the EU couldn't enforce a NFZ over Libya even if the Libyans all left for Morocco.

No, both England and Argentina were operating over the horizon. Further, England didn't go to the Falklands to set up a NFZ, they intended to and did invade, which was my point about general war vs. an NFZ. And it wasn't without cost, either. You might think the greater--general war, includes the lesser, a NFZ, but it doesn't. A NFZ is a highly specialized operation that relies on large and sophisticated force levels to accomplish a task that only recently and only under limited circumstances could any country have ever even attempted.

It sure would be awesome if they had 4 or 5 carriers to provide chopper and VTOL aircraft support for operations like that.

Sure would. If they could operate safely sufficiently close to the Libyan coast to be effective.

Carlton, you're not talking about a NFZ, you're talking about several countries making a sustained, national commitment with limited resources given the task at hand. They can't do it without the US. With the US, it's not exactly a laydown, but the short term outcome, i.e. the disablement of the Libyan air force is a foregone conclusion.

although I don't think you should underestimate how ineffective European forces are compared to the US

My take is the Europeans are, person-for-person, the equivalent of US personnel. It's the limited numbers of people, equipment, training etc. that goes into something as rare and complex as a NFZ.

This seems disconnected- yeah, it might stretch their capabilities. Their capabilities might degrade over time. Some aircraft might be lost. But that is very different from saying that they couldn't do it.

What I mean to say is: getting shipboard operations tuned to the point where you can operate continuously for long periods of time is really hard. It takes practice. If you screw up, errors tend to multiply very quickly until lots of people are dead. This situation is ripe for a Normal Accident. But one big accident can have ripple effects: it can make big accidents on other ships more likely and it can raise the political costs of continuing the operation.

I just try to picture the scenario in my head where the EU goes all-in to enforce a NFZ; bombers and fighters out of Sicily and Greece, all manner of ships, etc- and it fails. They're driven off by the ancient Libyan air force and SAMs. Dozens of Typhoons knocked down. MIG-23s winning dogfight after dogfight with F-16s.

That's not the scenario that I'm envisioning at all. Here's what I envision:

(1) The EU doesn't go all in because the EU is fractious bunch that doesn't agree about anything so the most that they're willing to do is partially go in, with some reservations.

(2) There are several friendly fire incidents where EU air/ship crews accidentally shoot down EU aircraft because of communication/coordination snafus. Calls to bring troops back home arise.

(3) At least one carrier suffers major damage due to an explosion brought about by an engine mechanic who hadn't slept in the last 48 hours screwing up. The damage is severe enough to keep the carrier from handling aircraft. As a result, the operational tempo on the other carriers must increase to compensate, which in turn dramatically increases the probability of the exact same thing happening on those other boats. Calls to bring the boys back home get much louder.

(4) A civilian fishing trawler approaches one of the naval vessels and whips out an imported anti-ship weapon that manages to seriously damage one of the carriers. Calls to end the conflict become deafening.

Now admittedly, I'm assuming that a NFZ would rely heavily on naval assets and airpower because I thought that Europe lacked both significant in-air refueling tankers and large bases capable of sustaining continuous operations that were close enough to Libya, but I could be wrong about that.

And Im not so sure that a 2nd gen Harrier V MIG-23 combat is a sure win for the MIGs, especially when pilot quality, awacs/ground support, etc is considered.

I was going to say something to that effect, but that's one of those things that you'd really have to be familiar with both aircraft, as well as their aircrew training, to know for sure.

What we do know is that the Harrier is, although a rather old airframe, equipped with relatively up-to-date avionics, and have been continuously maintained. Whereas the MiGs have had no Soviet maintenance for the last couple of decades. The Libyan Mirages (if they even have any more) might be in better shape, but unless they've gotten a few avionics upgrades in the last couple of decades, they're way behind the curve.

So: possibly. Throw in the weapons-technology advantage, and (as mentioned) the AWACS support, and you just might have a win for the Harriers. But you wouldn't want to plan on doing that.

From what I've read of the Libyan Air Force, they're mostly in tatters. You can do a lot of damage to people on the ground with a tattered airborne gun-and-missile platform, but that same platform might be a sitting duck for anything in a reasonable state of the art and repair.

Regarding doing overseas raids, there's always tanker support. UK has tankers, and there are probably several more that can be summoned from points afar. You wouldn't want to fly long-range raids without tanker and AWACS support, I wouldn't think.

Slarti might, at least more than anyone else here.

I don't know much about Libyan air defenses, or even about air defense in general, but what I do know is they seem to be limited to very short range. And of course they're old, and Soviet.

OK....I call Kermit on this thread.

The EU doesn't go all in because the EU is fractious bunch that doesn't agree about anything so the most that they're willing to do is partially go in, with some reservations.

Well, I don't want to handicap whether the EU has the political willpower to do it, or for how long. I was taking issue with the idea that they *couldnt do it if they wanted to*. Do they want to? I have no idea. Id bet no, probably the pols will see more downside than upside (including, as Eric pointed out, the 'upside' of helping people who could turn out to be bad characters into power).

[And they've got tankers. I don't know how much practice they have with them etc. Again, Id defer to someone who has hard details about air power.]

What I mean to say is: getting shipboard operations tuned to the point where you can operate continuously for long periods of time is really hard. It takes practice. If you screw up, errors tend to multiply very quickly until lots of people are dead.

Id say that the sample size is probably too small to justify being confident of this conclusion.

OK, here's the stuff on Libya

Not sure what mortars, apcs etc has to do with a NFZ. But again, a military expert would maybe be more concerned about what kind of eg tanks, rather than number of tanks.
I wasn't looking for a list, I know how to use wikipedia. I was pointing out that your assessment didn't take Libya into account at all, that Libya could've been defended with sharp sticks and Sicily is still 500mi or so from Libya.

But, Libya has a decent sized air force of reasonably capable fighters, among other things. More than sufficient to take on any VTOL even allowing for significant qualitative differences between European pilots and Libyan. I couldn't tell you what kind of air-to-air missiles Libya has, but if they are fairly recent Russian/Soviet vintage and if they work, you wouldn't want to try to outmaneuver one in a VTOL, they are too slow.

Slarti says this, I listen. You say this, I say- you and what expert? And when did 3rd-gen fighters become "reasonably capable" compared to Typhoons and F-16s? I mean, sh1t, Im not sure if the US could enforce a NFZ now, since the Libyans are apparently well-equipped to take out modern 4th-gen fighters.
I buy that 3rd-gen fighters might put up a good struggle against Harrier IIs. Not against F-16s. And sure not with all the other factors stacked up against them. You give the Israelis some MIG-23s and Id be more worried about em.

Further, absent US AWACS, the European jets would have to have their radar on full time just to monitor air traffic, making them huge targets for radar seeking SAMS.

It would be totally awesome if the UK, the French etc had some AWACS planes, wouldn't it? Guess what. Not being entirely stupid about developments in air combat since the 70s, they do.
(nb when you keep being wrong about stuff that you made up, you might reconsider your underlying thesis rather than making up more stuff).

You might think the greater--general war, includes the lesser, a NFZ, but it doesn't. A NFZ is a highly specialized operation that relies on large and sophisticated force levels to accomplish a task that only recently and only under limited circumstances could any country have ever even attempted.

Well, no one's attempted it in the past on its own, but I think they used to call it complete air superiority". Yeah, it was usually accompanied by land combat in the past. The Germans have done some of that iirc.

Sure would. If they could operate safely sufficiently close to the Libyan coast to be effective.

What, now the Libyan navy is going to get 'em? the Libyan AF is going to mount a serious offensive operation against some very good anti-air ships (eg UK destroyers)?
Bluntly, I just do not understand this. The UK, French, Italian, and Spanish navies together are not self-sufficient enough to operate a couple hundred miles off of their own shores under their own land-based air cover, in the face of a poorly-equipped, poorly-trained 3rd-world military.

I dont see how the US is going to help, really. We can't use our F-15s and F-16 since the Libyans kick 4th-gen fighter butt. Our ships cant get anywhere near Libya because of their fearsome navy and their AF's offensive capabilities.

Carlton, you're not talking about a NFZ, you're talking about several countries making a sustained, national commitment with limited resources given the task at hand.

We are, in fact, talking about a NFZ. At least, we were. What does this even mean? Even for you this is a novel debate tactic. "That thing we were talking about? That's not actually what we're talking about anymore."
And using a lot of other hazy words to describe it doesn't exactly make your case for you. How sustained? I have no idea, but then neither does anyone else know how long things are going to go on in Libya. Can the EU maintain it forever? Probably not. Can they take on the Libyan AF and win? I still say, silly &%&$ing question.

Ok, so: between France and UK, there are about nine E-3 Sentrys, and about 38 tankers.

The other EU powers probably can add to that pile a bit.

I may be being a bit pessimistic about Libya's air force readiness, but as I recall some were a bit overly optimistic about Iraq's capabilities back in the early 1990s, and their stuff was a couple of decades more up to date at that time.

It's hard to hide a fighter, unless you stash them in ordinary civilian aircraft hangars. If you do that, though, EU can simply drop an LGB on every building on every airfield that they suspect.

And with that many E-3s, they can simply monitor where they are landing from large standoff distances. I'd guess some of that has already been happening.

Can the EU maintain it forever? Probably not. Can they take on the Libyan AF and win? I still say, silly &%&$ing question.

I agree that if the EU were to take the preponderance of its forces and projection and aim it squarely at Libya, there would be no contest. The EU could enforce a NFZ, or invade and be able to crush the Libyan forces.

I don't think that the rebels in Libya represent the type of issue that any defense planner would engage most of its war making capability upon. Libya is a sideshow, and the EU won't expend the majority of its combat power on a sideshow.

I think it could be true that the entire EU force projection would have to be expended on this sideshow. That it would really take most of what they have to enforce a NFZ and maintain it.

But that still leaves us at a place where potentially, the EU "can't" do this without our assistance, where "can't" includes the additional pertinent fact that it just isn't that important for the EU to devote everything it has.

While we spend way too much on defense, at least it appears that we get better bang for the buck than the EU.

ah, imperial hubris is alive and well, I see. Despite some excellent strategic questions, there is a huge ommission in the post; that is why would any country have the right to do anything with regards to the Libyan situation?

Qataffi is doing what any leader of any sovereign nation has the right to do. He is crushing rebellion and insurection.

Ironic because we recently had a post up on this blog that spoke to the goodness of Lincoln smashing our own rebellion. Also, don't we, even today, rain death and destruction on "insurgents" all over the globe. This even when we sort of create the insurgents by invading countries and propping up governments not considered legit by a sizable proportion of said countries.

Shouldn't someone be talking about establishing a no fly zone around the US?

I'm just saying, you know.

why would any country have the right to do anything with regards to the Libyan situation?

Because sovereignty is based solely and explicitly on power. Libya is sovereign until another country takes that power away. Libya has not attracted the attention of anyone capable of taking that power away recently, but it currently is waving a big "eat me" sign. As recently as 1951, it was not sovereign.

This post was about why we should ignore that sign.

I think it could be true that the entire EU force projection would have to be expended on this sideshow. That it would really take most of what they have to enforce a NFZ and maintain it.

Well, first of all, much of their military just isn't going to be part of a NFZ operation. Tanks, amphibious assault ships, soldiers, artillery, etc. I can't imagine that most of anyone's airforce would be committed- Im not sure but Im guessing that several hundred land-based fighters would be hard to run out of Greece and Sicily. It might take the lion's share of some specialized asset classes such as AWACs or tankers though.
But "most of what they have" or "the majority of their combat power", not so much.

But that still leaves us at a place where potentially, the EU "can't" do this without our assistance, where "can't" includes the additional pertinent fact that it just isn't that important for the EU to devote everything it has.

Yes. When "can't" means "doesn't want to expend the resources to do so", then the EU "can't" enforce a NFZ over Libya. It may also turn out that the US "can't", in the sense of not wanting to, jury's still out on that one. And, in another turn, the US can't invade Haiti either- imagine that, the global colossus, and we can't even invade the poorest country in the hemisphere.

While we spend way too much on defense, at least it appears that we get better bang for the buck than the EU.

Does it appear that was based on some set of facts? I mean, Id certainly accept that overlap among national systems costs them something. And some militaries are surely better than others. But I havent yet seen any evidence that the EU as a whole gets inferior military bang-for-the-buck. Challenger II tanks are awesome. Typhoons look pretty good. The new British subs sound cool.

much of their military just isn't going to be part of a NFZ operation.

Pretty sure I said "force projection" and not "military." Combat forces that aren't useful in an operation aren't actually relevant to that operation.


Does it appear that was based on some set of facts?

I based it on the EU funded organization that said it. 10% of power for 60% of the cost.

Qataffi is doing what any leader of any sovereign nation has the right to do. He is crushing rebellion and insurection.

Any time I hear about the "right" of any "leader" to do anything, I get worried that sloppy thought underlies sloppy language. Governments and the heads of governments have powers, not "rights".

--TP

Pretty sure I said "force projection" and not "military." Combat forces that aren't useful in an operation aren't actually relevant to that operation.

Pretty sure we can scroll up and find out rather than guessing...
preponderance of its forces and it would really take most of what they have and the EU won't expend the majority of its combat power on a sideshow. You also say the entire EU force projection in a different part of it.

Anyway, it might take most of the tankers and AWACs that they have. It wouldn't take most of their air forces (hundreds of modern aircraft). It would take a chunk of their navy, but your concerns for their well-being nonwithstanding I don't think any EU nation would need to overextend itself in a naval confrontation with Libya.
And if you're considering whether the EU would bother, then yeah, forces that aren't relevant are important insofar as you've (actually explicitly) said that this would take most of the EU's combat power. Their actual commitment is entirely feasible, and I dont even think it's that unlikely from a political perspective. Nevertheless, it's too cute sleight of hand that says 'excluding most of their airforces and the entirety of their land forces, the EU will never commit the majority of (what's left) of it's combat power to a sideshow.'

I based it on the EU funded organization that said it. 10% of power for 60% of the cost.

A quote that you can no longer find, based on 'a guy' whose affiliation and expertise you can't even recall. You have that ability- it would be remarkable if not so common- to find the merest shred of evidence to be compelling when it supports what you would like to believe.
If I found a guy who worked for some EU-funded organization who said that the EU's military was the equal of the US, Im guessing that you wouldn't find that to be as compelling as evidence for some reason.

Qataffi is doing what any leader of any sovereign nation has the right to do. He is crushing rebellion and insurection.

Any time I hear about the "right" of any "leader" to do anything, I get worried that sloppy thought underlies sloppy language. Governments and the heads of governments have powers, not "rights".

--TP

Your argument is mere semantics. Take a look at international law, UN charter, etc and tell me where I'm wrong.

jrudiks, "Because sovereignty is based solely and explicitly on power. Libya is sovereign until another country takes that power away. Libya has not attracted the attention of anyone capable of taking that power away recently, but it currently is waving a big "eat me" sign. As recently as 1951, it was not sovereign."

Well, at least someone here is being honest. Hitlersims for the 21st century. That's why I read a lib blog?

Good jollies and all that. This back and forth really doesn't sound much different than the talk before invading Iraq.
The real question is do you want a base in Libya instead of a tame puppet. Given that the ideas of the PNAC are evidently still in play - decapitating governments - I'd have to say the Facebook / Twitter destabilization projects are doing well.
Big O is just being coy. UK/Mossad,etc. will go for the pound of flesh because of the oil. Causing scarcity for others is basic military doctrine.
But why Europe should contribute to its own hamstringing party doesn't seem to have struck home.

Shouldn't someone be talking about establishing a no fly zone around the US?

No, because it would be stupid, practically impossible to even attempt, and suicidal.

Next question?

Hitlersims for the 21st century.

And we've hit the left tail of the Godwin pdf.

The real question is do you want a base in Libya instead of a tame puppet.

I don't think anyone here is seriously discussing either option, John. To whom are you addressing this question?

decapitating governments

I don't think that's being discussed, either. Have you read any of this thread?

But why Europe should contribute to its own hamstringing party doesn't seem to have struck home.

This needs some unpacking. Please tell me what you meant by the above.

Does anyone have the numbers on combined French/British/Italian air superiority fighters, radar suppression aircraft, ranges, etc.? Do these countries have the depth or logistics capability, on their own, to enforce an indefinite NFZ? When do they quit and go home? When K wins? When the country is de facto partitioned?

A NFZ is a 24/7 operation. Jrudkis has it right: it could possibly be done, but only as a major effort.

A NFZ doesn't contemplate destroying Libya's air force, merely grounding it. To me, it looks like conflating eliminating K's air force (not going to happen without sustained combat operations including invasion) with grounding it, an entirely different matter.

Slarti, the Iraqi comparison is a point, but equally valid is that the US was a participant with overwhelming numbers of the full mix of land and carrier based aircraft and support aircraft.

A quote that you can no longer find, based on 'a guy' whose affiliation and expertise you can't even recall.

I did find it: it is above in the long block quote with the link.

Does anyone have the numbers on combined French/British/Italian air superiority fighters, radar suppression aircraft, ranges, etc.?

Wikipedia. But for starters, there are about 250 Typhoons in operation, and maybe something less than 20 AWACS (plus a couple hundred F-16s). I dont know that anyone has hard info on whether they've got highly-trained pilots, practice doing mid-air refuels, etc, but we're talking about the RAF here, Id tend to give them the benefit of the doubt on things like that.

Do these countries have the depth or logistics capability, on their own, to enforce an indefinite NFZ?

Does anyone? If the idea is to enforce a NFZ and watch the rebels win, then this isn't going to take years. If that isn't the idea, then I don't know what we're talking about- if K wins, then the NFZ would serve no purpose.

A NFZ doesn't contemplate destroying Libya's air force, merely grounding it.

Well, they could take out aircraft if they wanted to. Technically that's more than a NFZ. But destroying aircraft, runways, etc might make their jobs easier. So it doesn't need to be 1)NFZ with no unprovoked attacks or 2)destroy every aircraft in Libya. It can be a mix of those two.

Slarti, the Iraqi comparison is a point, but equally valid is that the US was a participant with overwhelming numbers of the full mix of land and carrier based aircraft and support aircraft.

I think Slarti's point was that many people overestimated Iraqi resistance based on numbers and types of aircraft, SAMs, etc. Not taking into account other factors such as poor training, maintenance, and morale. Whether the US participated isn't the point at all.

I did find it: it is above in the long block quote with the link.

Thanks. From the context:
1)He says "it is said", and then goes on to dispute the matter. He finishes that para with the question does that mean that European military capabilities have been falsely underestimated?
2)From the previous paragraph, I think he's just talking about 10% of the power projection/expeditionary force capabilities of the US- that the EU was focused on combat in Europe with the Warsaw Pact, not expeditionary warfare. That has nothing to do with not getting "bang for the buck".
3)Once more, I don't know why you think a single quote with no facts backing it up would be definitive- here not even the opinion of the author, but something "that is said". It seems that you've managed to use a quote about other peoples' opinions and taken the meaning out of context in order to prove what you already 'knew'.

Let me try to summarize, mostly to see if I've understood the discussion.

Not in order,
1) we discussed whether we (and/or the Europeans, as the EU or as individual countries) should intervene in Libya. There's general agreement that Qaddafi is a scumbag, and the world would be better off without him. But much less as to whether there is a moral case for taking him down.

2) we discussed who has the capability to intervene. For a NFZ, the EU is far inferior to the US in capability. Fortunately, they would be up against Libyan air defense, not American air defense. How effective Libyan air defense would turn out to be is a matter of dispute.

Could an EU-only NFZ cover all of Libya? Probably not. Then again, while there are some airfields inland, the vast majority of Libyans, and Libyan infrastructure is close to the coast. Air defense operations out of central Libya are limited by logistics: jet fuel has to be gotten from the coast to the bases there.

Could European military forces establish a NFZ? Yes. Not without losses, but then it's really mostly just Americans who think that combat military operations should be without losses. Would the political will in Europe to act last, once the decision was made? Perhaps not for long, but probably long enough to Qaddafi to be taken down.

3) What would follow Qaddafi, and how important is that? First, nobody knows. Probably, there would be a lot of wrangling amongst the victorious rebels. (See America in the decade or tow following the Revolution.) But it is far from certain that would-be jihadists would prevail. Second, it is not clear (at least to me) that even a jihadist Libyan government would be noticeably worse that a victorious Qaddafi after the way the world has viewed him vs. the rebels. To say that he's going to be furious at everybody from the Arab League to the EU to the US would be putting it mildly. And he has a history which suggests that he would act on that.

I suspect that, if the EU (or even just France and/or Italy) decides to intervene, the US will provide support -- not active combat involvement, but support. AWACS being the most obvious thing we could do without much effort. (Heck, take it out of the training budget. Those guys gotta train anyway, and live exercises are the best training.) Other logistic support becomes important only for supplying the rebels; and the EU (e.g France) seems to be managing that themselves.

With regards to #1, it's not so much the "moral case" that leaves me unpersuaded, but rather the national interest, cost/benefit case.

Again, nobody other than Sen Lugar that I've seen thus far has raised the issue that this would cost tens of billions of dollars. How will we pay for it?

If we're talking pure "moral case" we should probably be in Cote d'Ivoire already, not to mention Sudan and Somalia and at least a few other locales.

Also: We should be leaning hard on Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to stop their tandem attacks on protesters (much cheaper ftr)

i've been watching this out of the corner of my eye, so I think wj's summary is pretty good. Some points I didn't note.
-Eric mentions tribal issues, but my understanding is that Libya national military ability has degraded quite a bit in the past decade because of this tribal infighting, and the elite forces, which are small but well equipped, are those who are tribally affiliated with the regime (link and link and link)

This makes analyses of the Libyan military, such that you would get off of Wikipedia, miss the point. One could take this as evidence for either side (elite troops loyal to the regime are more likely going to be using tanks and boots on the ground, so some sort of air intervention could be very valuable, but this might be a lot more than an NFZ in terms of intervention so we should therefore maintain a hands off approach). One thing is for sure, Gadhaffi is probably the biggest beneficiary of the recent disaster in Japan, as the amount of information I have seen about Libya has dropped to a trickle and I assume that it will give him breathing space to retrench.

I said 'some points', and I thought I had 2 more, but I've forgotten them now. May not have had them, apologies for that.

I don't suppose you'd buy a rationalization that acting when it isn't in the national interest and fails a cost/benefit analysis is immoral? Naw, didn't think so. ;-)

Point taken.

wj: there's something to that, but it is perhaps a separate discussion.

A NFZ doesn't contemplate destroying Libya's air force, merely grounding it. To me, it looks like conflating eliminating K's air force (not going to happen without sustained combat operations including invasion) with grounding it, an entirely different matter.

I'd think it could be any number of things. First, declaration of No Fly Zone, along with detailed enumeration of consequences for violation.

Second, preparation to enforce the NFZ. This includes putting assets in place to (yes) destroy any and all Libyan aircraft on the ground, and plans for scale of said destruction (just the offending air base? The entire known fleet of aircraft? Some third, middle-ish option?).

I would think that it's a given that we/NATO/some UN task force would NOT want to fly continuous CAP and simply shoot down the offenders. That's asking to spend a great deal of blood and money just to make the skys safe for as long as you're around to keep them safe.

I'd guess this, instead, would be the way to go: continuous surveillance, tracking of violators to their respective landing sites, and visitation of consequences in the event of violation, with some (unavoidable, I think) delay. I haven't really considered this fully so there might be flaws.

I'd think it could be any number of things

Galrahn at Information Dissemination thinks it would involve a lot more than what you're thinking Slarti:

If anyone wants to establish a "no-fly zone" in Libya, it starts with a declaration of war by Congress, because anything short of that is a boondoggle. There is no way any nation is going to run around and shoot down aircraft inside Libya without taking out the defense infrastructure including SAM and ASM sites, virtually the entire Libyan Navy, every airfield being used, every aircraft that is in the open on the ground, and every radar and electronic emission site. That means thousands of strike sorties just to set the conditions for a no-fly zone, because establishing air superiority is the prerequisite of any no-fly zone.

And then we'll have an obligation to rebuild in the aftermath, adding to the price tag that, so far, nobody has proposed a means to pay for.

Plus if you think that Galrahn is correct in claiming that a NFZ would require thousands of sorties, you have to wonder: how many of those sorties will kill civilians or rebels? And how many such incidents will it take to destroy political support for continuing the operation?

Now Carleton seems to be focused on an incredibly narrow definition of feasibility which boils down to asking whether a NFZ is doable if all the military hardware in Europe was deployed in the hands of a unified fighting force that had extensive experience running continuous operations together and massive political commitment back home. I'm not sure why anyone would care about feasibility in a world so far removed from our own, but he's made a very convincing case about events in this other world.

Could an EU-only NFZ cover all of Libya? Probably not. Then again, while there are some airfields inland, the vast majority of Libyans, and Libyan infrastructure is close to the coast. Air defense operations out of central Libya are limited by logistics: jet fuel has to be gotten from the coast to the bases there.

True, but Im thinking from a practical perspective the NFZ only needs to be enforced in the areas where the rebels are active. There was some discussion about whether a NFZ would just be directed at military attacks by fixed-wing aircraft, or if helicopters and/or ferrying operations would be included.

Now Carleton seems to be focused on an incredibly narrow definition of feasibility which boils down to asking whether a NFZ is doable if all the military hardware in Europe was deployed in the hands of a unified fighting force that had extensive experience running continuous operations together and massive political commitment back home.

Well, Id say with the experience they actually have, and with the given that there are a bunch of nations involved. And as has been repeatedly pointed out, other than a few specialized asset classes, the EU has more than enough land-based aircraft etc. So "all the military hardware in Europe" isn't correct at all. The majority of the military hardware in Europe isn't even relevant to the mission.
And sure, dismissing concerns about political implications isn't the whole case- I even said that I dont think this will actually happen (altho if it does they'll keep up it for a while or until it's successful- if they lose a few planes etc backing down would be politically worse than staying the course IMO).

But all of that was in response to jrudkis: But I wouldn't be against selling some hardware to the EU if they find they don't have the capacity to perform anything useful.

I just don't think that stands up to serious analysis. The EU has considerably more than they need to take on the Libyan AF and win hands-down. Im not even sure what jrudkis thinks we would be selling them- fighters? AWACS? SAM-killing missiles? Maybe if he wants to keep this going he can tell us specifically what we would be selling them.

Eric, you'll never be accepted as a neocon, or even a strong conservative in today's world. Even ignoring your use of the term "price tag," you used "aftermath" and "obligation" in the same sentence. For shame! The proper approach is to bomb hell out of (whomever), declare mission accomplished, and . . . that's the end of it, at least as far as required planning is concerned. Simple, no?

Eric's #2 is how a NFZ ends.

a NFZ simply slows down the government forces. the rebels, who are still are an irregular force with no heavy weapons, still get beat. it just takes longer.

a NFZ doesn't stop the govt. the rebels still lose.

Eric: in short, although I initially tossed off some half-baked notions in the opposing direction in the first week of events, by the second week I'd come round to this same position, also by product of reading the same arguments and wisdom you have.

I reserve the right to again change my mind if the situation changes dramatically, but otherwise we're in -- I'm responding to your post here, not subsequent comments, since I'm afraid I've been too busy to read the blog in many days -- as usual, more or less full agreement.

Attractive as a no-fly zone might seem at a first glance, it would be a sucking quagmire that is, at least as yet, not yet a compelling enough cause, despite the evils of the Libyan Leader (I'm feeling like avoiding spelling inconsistencies at the moment), and the desire to counter-the massacres and violence with more violence, to engage in the necessary risks, and dangers of adding yet more violence to the violence.

On the matter of costs of military expenditures versus what we could do to help people, in this case, "merely" Americans, I'll fall back on yet another graphic of The Same Old Classic Comparisons.

I know, this will be bad for my career ;)

That said, I reiterate this:

We should be leaning hard on Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to stop their tandem attacks on protesters (much cheaper ftr)

And add that the US comes out of the Bahrain mess looking much, much worse because of our active complicity (as opposed to "decision not to intervene" where there is no underlying relationship):

http://bit.ly/hWaT5g

How effective Libyan air defense would turn out to be is a matter of dispute.

It appears that they may have better equipment than I'd thought; they seem to have a collection of SA-2, SA-3 and SA-6 missile defense systems that have rather larger standoff ranges than do their smaller mobile SAM counterparts in the Libyan Army. The downside of these systems is they must be emplaced, and they are (being all at least 40 years old, design-wise) susceptible to various countermeasures. And they're radar-guided, which means large, multi-vehicle emplacement sites that are easily seen by photorecon satellites, and are also easily detectable by airborne radars. If you wanted to, you could put a HARM into each of the acquisition radars from outside of their engagement range.

Now I'm just spitballing.

If anyone wants to establish a "no-fly zone" in Libya, it starts with a declaration of war by Congress

Really? If NATO, or the UN want to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, that requires a declaration of war by Congress?

News to me. I'm not saying it isn't so, but I had no idea the rest of the world needed our permission to engage in such things. OTOH, if no-fly zones required a declaration of war, weren't we already at war with Iraq?

Not saying what we should and shouldn't do as regards Saudi Arabia, Eric, but wouldn't it look really feckless of us to be leaning on Saudi Arabia to straighten up and fly right, if Fisk's article of last week is accurate?

The 10% for 60 % quote is attributed to Defense Secretary Cohen, according to this dissertation:

Furthermore, there are substantial and widely recognized inefficiencies in the way
European countries—both individually and collectively—spend their defense
24
budgets. According to an oft-quoted statement by former U.S. Defense Secretary
William Cohen, European NATO members spend 60 percent of what the United
States spends on defense and get only 10 percent in return.32 In terms of airlift
capacity, they get less than 20 percent of the U.S. capacity—by volume or tonnage
(Heisbourg, 1999). There are two main reasons behind this low return on
investment: European defense spending is fragmented, thereby forgoing potential
scale economies; and it is focused on different priorities.33

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand
/pubs/rgs_dissertations/2007/
RAND_RGSD219.pdf

From the same paper:

EU members’ defense spending is skewed towards personnel. Considering today’s potential missions, EU nations have too many soldiers: the EU-15 nations fielded 1.9 million soldiers in 1999 versus 1.4 million in the United States. Also, in 1999, personnel expenses consumed about 61 percent of defense budgets in the EU-15, compared to 39 percent in the United States. According to Heisbourg (1999) “An extreme case is provided by Germany, Greece and Italy, which together field 800,000
military personnel (close to 60 percent of the U.S. total) whereas they spend 12 percent ($8 billion) of what the United States does on procurement.” Procurement expenditure among European NATO members dropped by 6.9 percent between 1996 and 2000, compared with a 4.7 percent increase in the United States over the same period (Morrocco, 2001). European spending on R&D fell by 2 percent a year over the same period to reach only a quarter of that spent by the United States (IISS, 2001).

another interesting paper re: European capabilities:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RS21659.pdf

And an article about the Nato Response Force, which would presumably be the central core to a NFZ. Which, accroding to the article, needs US technology.

http://www.ndu.edu/CTNSP/docUploaded/DTP%2018%20NATO%20Response%20Force.pdf

Running through the comments on the thread quickly, and speaking as a guy who simply Reads A Bunch about the military, I'd suggest there are some serious misconceptions underlying some comments:
1) the idea that Amount Of Money Spent Per Country on Military Spending In General somehow correlates to force effectiveness to do a specific job is, well, ridiculous. Just because country a has, say, a draft, and technically runs a million young people through six months of small arms training and has to spend a lot on barracks and food, doesn't mean they can fight an air battle, run submarines, or actually fly an effective set of ground troops, with artillery, heavy munitions, air support, command and control, suitable training, adequat communications, a professional non-commissioned corp, ets, hardly follows.

b) The idea that one Nato or more NATO countries has a ship or ships called an "air craft carrier," which might, in abstract theory, be "capable" of flying the same "sort" of airplane, (Harrier versus Rafale M, say, simply isn't relevant. These elements aren't interchangeable parts. A carrier equipped with one type of catapult and a crew, both sea and pilots, who have trained in communications and details of landing on one Navy's carrier can't just blithely land on another Navy's carrier save in the most dangerous and risk sort of circumstances, let alone be reequipped, let alone regularly deployed. It's just not the way real navies, as opposed to bath-tub toys, work.

Unless the units have actually thoroughly trained and excerised together for months, making sure that the can work together, they can't, and it's just that simple.

As for the theoretical integration of NATO, well, it's a nice theory, and there are some limited actual capabilities, sure, and they're exercised in very specific operations, but if you want to follow the general practice, all you have to do is start running through some of the relevant boilerplate bafflegab to understand that a lot of it amounts to having official delegations staffing an awful lot of office buildings, with an awful lot of PowerPoint presenttions being done in multiple languages, and a Vast Profusion of Charts, and a considerable army of personnell devoted to producing more PointPoint charts, re-organizations, and more meetings and memos, than it often amounts to actual fighting forces that can actually conduct real military operations, rather than parliamentary speeches, endless committees, and nice sounding press releases.

Sure, there are real units, that can actually fight and act at sea together, but these are fairly limited capabilities.

Meanwhile, arguments over which corporation and country should be engaging in which contracts to sell non-existing equipment to which military in some future procurement plan which will be vetoed or run through umpty national parliaments in years future doesn't seem particularly relevant to what orders might be given to which forces deployable next week in a given place and time.

Those are nice abstract arguments, but what they have to do with questions like "what should the EU or U.S. or NATO do to act, or not, militarily, in the next month," I can only answer: nothing.

Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, the "rebels" in Libya are a widely disparate set of groups, with no political or military or ethnic unification or coordination, completely mixed desires, at best, as regards foreign intervention, "we," for whatever value you wish to consider "we" to represent, can't impose a no-fly zone without attacking land-based air defenses, at which point we're already killing Libyans on the ground, engaging in "collateral damage," being seen by at least some Libyan oppositionists as foreign imperialist killers, being seen by yet other Libyan rebels as outsiders who will only damage their on legitimacy as true patriots, and unless such questions as "what next, then what next, then what next," "what's the exist strategy," "where do we draw the line at who we stop killing, who do we attack, how do we make up for the oopsie civilian deaths, what are the moral and practical and long-term costs of engaging in mass killings?" and dozens or hundreds or thousands of other questions, can be answered very very very quickly, and either by a whole set of bureaucracies -- even if only one country's, such as the U.S. -- and good luck getting all the Pentagon, State, and intel agencies lined up like ducks to do that, let alone Congress -- you haven't begun to define the word "mess."

Save that an awful lot of blood will be on American hands again.

And, yes, standing by also results in much suffering, death, killing, and horror.

That's the world we live in. There are never simple answers, but the least we can do is try to limit the obvious harm we do through our actions -- and yet, then, no one wants another Rwanda, or Holocaust, either.

But I agree that the case for ANY military intervention needs to be as compellingly clear as possible before it can possibly be justified, either morally or practically, and the easy comments I made a couple of weeks ago about a no-fly zone being a "no-brainer" were a wonderful example of me displaying no brain at all.

Slarti: I've seen a lot of incredulity about Fisk's piece from a wide array of commentators (of all persuasions). Not sure that means it's incorrect, but there was an unusual consensus.

Even if Fisk is right that the US tried to get SA to play that role, SA didn't seem to have an appetite to get involved in Libya (why would they given their own interest in stemming the tide of revolutions?)

But if the US position is to encourage, even tacitly, the revolutions, I don't think there's any inconsistency here.

Adding: the optics are always worse on these matters when it's a US ally, w/US weapons because US authorization is presumed (as rumors of HR Clinton green-lighting the Saudi incursion are already gaining wide circulation on twitter).

Also, we have some leverage available absent armed intervention. Not costless, but that's not really a possibility under any scenario.

Also, it's deeply silly to be cite any sources at all you can find online as to numbers of craft, planes, missiles, ships, etc., unless you can find readiness figures on last week's supplies and effectiveness -- and you can't.

You can get a rough estimate on some NATO forces, but those will be immensely rough, months out of date, won't take into account what's actually on hand and effective, because of operational security, and the fact that websites are going to be months out of date, including those maintained by those of the ships and air wings themselves, since they do those almost as hobbies, for the morale of the civilian families of the crews, amd for promotion/publicity, more than any other reason; they certainly don't put information out there so every Fighting Jane, Dick, and Wang can conveniently look up enemy capability, and you're certainly not going to find terribly accurate or up to date info on Wikipidia, and that idea is just very silly.

Let alone being able to tell how well-manned, supplied, or which side, the individuals and units of a given Libyan outpost, base, crew, are.

These are pretty known unknowns.

And, crap, I just wrote another couple of thousand words, and then because I'm having a Firefox problem, and momentarily hit a link to check a word, just as I was finishing, wiped out the entire last two thirds of my piece, and [curse words curse word curse words, curse words].

Well, there went an hour or or so of time.

Okay, maybe only 20 minutes or so. Still.

Frak. I don't have the time to rewrite all that. Now I'm just going to have to say "yes, I addressed all that. And it disappeared. And I hate Microsoft. But I blame only myself for not having stopped to have fixed my momentary Firefox problem, or done my usual automatic habit of saving to buffer. Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall for a while, and then... whatever."

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