Monday, March 21, 2011

What happens if we run out of legitimate targets in Libya? 

This comment from the BBC ‘Breaking News live comment stream’ summarises some of my concerns on the Libya operations.

Wing Commander Andrew Brookes from the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London tells the BBC World Service the air strikes on Libya have "degraded" the country's defence system "very much". He says: "The trouble is that Libya is not a target-rich environment for that sort of weapon. So you probably end up very shortly with them running out of those concrete, bunker-type facilties. So the rebels are getting protected, Gaddafi's defence infrastructure is being hit. But if, as some suspect, he doesn't say 'it's a fair cop, I'm off' and digs in, what will be the response? That's what we're waiting to see."

BBC 1039 Monday 21 March.

Yes we can cause dramatic breakages to Libyan facilities for a day or so more. But then there will be no targets we can legitimately hit within the international terms of reference of the operation.

Indeed we may already be scrapping the target barrel – hitting ‘Command centres’ is an attractive ego-trip option for people sitting in KU military communications headquarters but is probably of no great relevance for protecting civilians. (1)

In a few days we may be sitting round saying ‘OK what do we do now?’ Will thre be target creep just to make the air forces look busy? That happened in Serbia and Afghanistan and Iraq...

Note 1 Frontline British troops get quite annoyed when the Joint Chief of Staffs command centre at Northolt describes itself as being ‘in the front line’ of whatever uproar is in progress.

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