March 02, 2011
Libya, Burning Libya encore
First, a useful note from BBC BBC News - Libya: Who is propping up Gaddafi?
Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime is showing signs of fighting back.Showing signs... an understatement. But useful overview of his side actors.
Economist Clauswitz blog has very useful notes,
Mr Qaddafi’s ability to move reinforcements rapidly around the vast country has already proved important. According to intelligence estimates, far from being the delusional loon he affects to be, the Libyan leader has been preparing for the situation he finds himself in today for many years. Unlike the well-equipped, albeit poorly run, air force, the nominally 50,000-strong Libyan army (most of whom are conscripts) has long been distrusted by the regime and kept on short rations. In contrast, Mr Qaddafi and his sons have built up a paramilitary force of some 20,000 well-armed and well-drilled tribesmen loyal to their clan and supplemented by handsomely paid mercenaries from Chad and Niger.Emphasis added. I suggest that the West has underestimated his canniness. He is incompetent at proper politics, but relative to this situation, this plays to his skills. I am more sceptical as to the mercenaries angle, re well-paid, but that will prove out. The note here on the mixed impact of No Fly also is worth pondering, as is
Without a no-fly zone the anti-Qaddafi revolution could yet stumble and fail. However, while the West has plenty of experience in policing no-fly zones, they are neither easy to put into effect nor guaranteed to prevent large-scale killing on the ground. Although Saddam Hussein was deterred from taking terrible retribution on the Kurds after the first Gulf war by the no-fly zone in the north, a similar attempt to neuter the Iraqi air force in the south was much less successful in curbing his brutalities against the Shi’ite population. It is also worth recalling that the no-fly zone over Bosnia did not stop the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, while, if anything, the NATO bombing of Serbia four years later accelerated ethnic killings in Kosovo. ....
.... In the first instance, planes flying from an American carrier, probably the USS Enterprise, could establish the no-fly zone, but land bases, such as the well-positioned US Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily or a similar facility at Souda Bay in Crete, would soon be needed to sustain a long campaign. And while enforcement of a no-fly zone is not especially complicated once everything is in place, it does require both careful planning and adequate resources (a fleet of around a hundred fighter jets, aerial refuelling, airborne warning and control, robust data links between coalition aircraft, rescue arrangements for any pilots shot done).
In establishing the no-fly zone, coalition aircraft would first have to nullify Libyan air defences, which include nearly 100 Mig-25s and 15 Mirage F-1s equipped with still-capable Soviet era air-to-air missiles and a huge arsenal of Russian surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that come in all shapes and sizes. It is unlikely, however, that either Mr Qaddafi’s pilots would fare any better than the similarly equipped, but better trained, Iraqis who failed to shoot down a single allied aircraft in 11 years of no-fly zone patrolling. But military experts, including Lieutenant General David Deputa, a former fighter pilot who until recently oversaw air force intelligence at the Pentagon, believe Libya has succeeded in acquiring more up-to-date SAMs in the past few years than were available to Iraq and that these could pose a serious threat to allied aircraft.
The SAMs are a serious issue, but not dealt with here is Qadhdhafi's deep Sahara airbase, that I suggest is rather more of a stretch for a no fly zone implementation (and also makes SAM more problematic) than the coastal airbases.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Western mercernaries, actual skilled private military, cost only $5K-$15K/month. Not out of reach of the Guide at all.
Upper end of that is $180k a year. Not bad at all. Somehow I don't see him paying that out. Arabs are excellent businessmen, once you get them out of the Middle East (interestingly, so were Chinese once you got them out of Red China, something everyone noticed but no one seemed to really understand the significance of. There's an analogy in there somewhere...) and that means they can multiply costs and do a cost/benefit analysis very quickly. A bunch of 5k guys are probably worth more, taken together, than a few 15k guys. The Chinese used cheap & abundant to good effect at the Chosin Reservoir back in the day.
Feel free to ignore all of the above. PUI and all that...
Posted by: pantom at March 2, 2011 09:16 PM
It really isn't material in the end. Say you hire a 5000 unit, add a some more iron and firepower, and you need 3 months to crush the rebellion back into submission. Half a billion dollars tops? Worth it to rule a country like Libya.
My doubts would be more on the availability side. Although thousands of Western mercernaries is not a big deal, I'm far from being sure more than a few would work for Qaddafi. Not a matter of ethics, just common business sense. You wouldn't want to upset your major contractors - which in the case of these Western mercenaries happen to be Western countries (paramilitary, diplomatic security, companies in war zones, etc.).