May 26, 2011

NATO entangled in Libya

Another emblem for SHAPE, featuring the flags ...
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The limitations of European NATO members’ Odyssey Dawn operation are becoming increasingly apparent.
During a visit to Paris last week, Rear Admiral James G. Faggo, operational head of the U.S. 6th fleet in charge of G3 (intelligence) said that 60% of the Libyan army’s potential was still operational. This assessment from U.S. military intelligence concerns the regime’s shock troops, as well as the 32nd Brigade, the special forces brigade loyal to Muammar Gaddhafi. These elements, which were at the forefront of the military operation against the insurgents (IOL 637 ) are currently being spared and kept away from the most recent clashes, in particular in Misrata. Furthermore, even though it has slowed, the flow of mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa continues.
The assessment underscores the limits of the coalition forces' air raids, while Gaddhafi ’s troops, in particular his artillery units, have changed their tactics. Their mobility and their stealth are complicating the work of imagery analysts at NATO targeting centres, which are responsible for some 60-odd sorties a day by French, British Norwegian, Canadian, Belgian and occasionally U.S. aircraft. The crisis is therefore not about to be over, contrary to what James Jones, Barack Obama ’s former security advisor said during a visit to Paris at the end of March.
Among France’s military top brass, generals say there is a discrepancy between the alliance’s political goals and the military operations. The very complex chain of command, ill-adapted to dealing with very mobile targets, ranges from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), headed by Admiral James Stavridis, to the operational centre at Poggio Renatico in Italy. In between are the Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, the commander of Operation Unified Protector, who reports to American Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, and the Allied Air Command in Izmir, Turkey, led by Generals Ralph Jodice and Vincent Teniere. According to several sources, ground attack planes are regularly obliged to touch down because they have run out of fuel while waiting for a target to be designated.
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