News / Middle East

    NATO Learns Key Lessons in Libya Campaign

    Al Pessin

    NATO officials say they are close to ending their nearly seven-month-long bombing campaign in Libya, designed to prevent forces loyal to former leader Moammar Gadhafi from attacking civilians.  The operation made it possible for the Libyan NTC fighters to take control of the country, but it also revealed some significant military and political challenges for the alliance.

    NATO aircraft flew 26,000 missions over Libya, including 9,600 bombing runs.  Alliance ships have evacuated civilians and enforced a blockade on military equipment bound for the pro-Gadhafi forces.

    The operation has had some problems, but it has been an effective effort launched on short notice.  The top NATO military commander, U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, is pleased with that.

    "I'd say the first lesson learned from Libya is that NATO works, that we can quickly with real alacrity and real strategic effect marshal force and bring it to bear in support, in this case, of United Nations Security Council resolutions," said Stavridis.

    But Stavridis also acknowledges that the Libya operation revealed some shortcomings.

    "Top of my list is targeting, the ability to fuse intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and produce coherent, precision targeting that does not cause collateral damage. We did a reasonable job on that but I think we could do better," added Stavridis.

    Libya also revealed some political gaps in the NATO alliance.  While all 28 member nations endorsed the operation, only eight participated.

    And for Nick Witney, former head of the European Union's defense agency, that is disturbing.

    "Few of the allies were actually prepared to participate in what, at least in opening phases, the saving of Benghazi, was surely one of the simplest geostrategic, moral, political decisions that one would have to take about whether to join an intervention or not," said Witney.

    Witney's colleague at the European Council on Foreign Relations, former British defense official Daniel Korski, says that poses a very fundamental question about the future of the NATO alliance.

    "What is NATO?  Is it an alliance where we all fight together against common threats?  Or is it an alliance where smaller mini-coalitions within the alliance are able to do whatever they want while people stand back," Korski asked.  

    But while Admiral Stavridis is eager for the alliance to close its capability gaps, he is not worried about its political unity.

    "I don't think there was an existential threat posed by Libya, but in fact, the alliance stepped up, undertook this. I think that's a good example of the alliance being willing to take on missions that are beyond existential," Stavridis noted.  "I think NATO has a role to play in the world, kind of a role for good, and I think we'll continue to do that."

    The admiral is optimistic even though Europe's economic crisis is making it harder to fund defense spending to close the capability gaps, and people in many countries are reluctant to support foreign military operations after years of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.