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US can, should engage Libya
by Larry Wilson
Mar 28, 2011 | 603 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
President Obama did the right thing in entering into an effort to create a no-fly zone over Libya in conjunction with our NATO allies, rather than entering into that effort on our own. We can ill afford to stand by and allow a country’s leader to brazenly announce that he is going to kill his fellow countrymen when they decide they need a change in their country’s leadership.

It also is good that the leadership for the creation of the no-fly zone has been turned over to the NATO command structure. Had the United States run this operation on its own, we would have been tagged as the aggressors by both the Arab and Muslim worlds. That perception would have increased the possibility of our country bearing the brunt of increased and endless terrorism.

Critics of this operation are quick to point out that we used tomahawk missiles costing $1.5 million apiece to help create this no-fly zone. We had the missiles and if they weren’t used they would have had to have been destroyed eventually. We might as well use them for some good at least before we rotated our stock and replaced them with fresh missiles. There is a cost for any combat operation anywhere. Our losses in this operation to date has been one fighter airplane due to mechanical malfunction. There has been no loss of life on our side at all so far. President Obama has indicated there will be no boots on the ground in this operation and he is supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates as well as the joint chiefs of staff.

Critics of President Obama’s decision to send our troops into this limited conflict always forget one major point: Our soldiers are going to be doing exactly what they are paid to do. Since we are paying them to fight for our country and our allies there is absolutely no reason not to send them into this conflict. They are trained, equipped, and available. The mission has been delineated so here they come. The Libyan leadership should probably pack its luggage for a quick departure under cover of darkness and soon. They need to lead, follow or get out of the way.

In establishing this no-fly zone, all Libyan anti-aircraft artillery in the area was to be destroyed when discovered. That includes all armored vehicles. In doing this it clears a path for the rebels to take their main target of Tripoli, the capital of Libya, and ultimately effect the removal of the current Libyan leadership.

The ill-trained rebels seemingly don’t have any central leadership. None of the combatants seen on various news reports from the area have the same weaponry save for a few AK-47 rifles.

The training of the combatants is nonexistent as seen by the lack of adherence to a basic rule for any infantryman: ammunition conservation. Countless scenes of combatants firing off full bandoleers of machine gun ammunition and full clips of bullets from their AK-47s into thin air are all over the TV news reports.

Once the no-fly zone is established the Libyan rebels are going to need more weapons, ammunition, food and especially training in order to finally overthrow the ruling regime as the final battle for Tripoli is almost guaranteed to be bloody and likely to include the unfortunate deaths of many innocent civilians. Of course, we have seen this outcome numerous times in other revolutionary efforts in other unstable countries with barbaric leadership.

Our own government is in a rather precarious situation, as well. We want to support the rebels, but with no clear-cut leadership or identifiable cause on the part of the rebel faction, our government doesn’t want to be caught up in a mess by supporting the wrong side once the hostilities have ceased, assuming the fighting will cease at some point.

Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at
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