As Gadhafi began mobilizing his forces and sending them towards the city of Benghazi allied powers in Europe were wrapping up a meeting. Shortly after that meeting French fighter jets swooped into action and started pummeling Libyan defenses. The French reportedly destroyed 4 tanks and one vehicle in the first attacks in the UN backed intervention. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that forces have gone into action over Libya and were preventing Gadhafi from entering Benghazi. The United States did not participate in the French missions but NBC now reports that the U.S. has started firing cruise missiles at Libyan defenses.
France has sent a dozen Mirage and Rafale jets to survey the one-time opposition stronghold of Benghazi and the 150 kilometer-by-100 kilometer no-fly zone. France is the leading military force on this operation. British jets will be put to use tonight, according to PM Cameron, against Libyan Government forces and the Canadian Air Force will be ready to destroy targets by Monday morning. According to one government official speaking under the condition of anonymity the allied forces will be striking targets on the Libyan coast as well.
The United States is allegedly seeking to destroy Libya’s air defenses and then leave the job
of patrolling the no fly zone to other nations. President Obama is ensuring that U.S. forces are not spread too thin and caught up in another conflict when they’re needed elsewhere. The Pentagon is calling the mission Operation Odyssey Dawn. The United States currently has 11 ships stationed off the coast of Libya including 2 submarines, 2 destroyers, 2 amphibious assault ships, 1 command ship and 3 supply ships. With all of that firepower on standby it makes you wonder if the U.S. will be taking a more active role than they have been saying publicly.
While Obama remains firm on his decision to not send in U.S. ground troops he has said that we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy. Now that action has officially begun there are some serious questions that need to be answered in the coming days.
- What will our role be when Gadhafi’s forces are defeated?
- What if Gadhafi refuses to cede power?
- How long will the U.S. military be involved in helping stabilize the country?
I personally think this is the best strategic military decision made by many nations in the last decade and especially for the United States. The only thing we have to worry about now is not getting stuck in another Iraq type situation and I think Obama is preventing that by ensuring the people don’t see U.S. boots on the ground. As long as the people of Libya remain assured that this is their revolution and not foreigners seeking oil then I doubt we or anyone else will have a problem hitting the enemy forces and pulling right back out. Intervening in one uprising is a slippery slope though as now every nation that revolts is going to be looking to the Western powers for assistance that is never going to come.