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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid