News / Africa

US Military Planners Consider No-Fly Zone Over Libya

Anti-Gadhafi rebel in front of an unexploded bomb from an air strike by Gadhafi's warplanes, in the town of Ras Lanouf, eastern Libya, March 8, 2011
Anti-Gadhafi rebel in front of an unexploded bomb from an air strike by Gadhafi's warplanes, in the town of Ras Lanouf, eastern Libya, March 8, 2011

U.S. officials are looking at several responses to Libya's conflict, including imposing a no-fly zone over the country. 

During the past 20 years, international coalitions have imposed and enforced no-fly zones over Bosnia for two years in the mid-1990s, and over northern and southern Iraq, spanning the years 1991 to 2003. A no-fly zone is defined as airspace in which certain aircraft - especially military ones - are forbidden to fly.

Now there is talk of imposing another no-fly zone, this one over Libya. Many European countries, U.S. military planners and the Arab League are looking at the feasibility of such a move. But others, such as Russia and China, have expressed reservations.

Retired Navy Captain Tom Parker, who flew aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone over Bosnia, says before looking at a possible no-fly zone over Libya, certain key questions must be addressed.

"The first question that needs to be answered is what is the objective? Is the objective to protect the people - that’s one thing. Is the objective to overthrow Colonel Gadhafi - that’s another thing," said Parker. "Is it to provide succor [provide assistance or relief] to the rebels, whoever they are, because that is really not known - then that’s another thing. Or maybe some combination of those. So the first question would be what’s the objective? What are we trying to achieve?

Retired Air Force General David Deptula, who flew more than 80 missions enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq, agrees.

"People seem to be offering a no-fly zone as the solution - but they haven’t defined what the problem is or what the desired effect of the imposition of a no-fly zone is," he said.

General Deptula says other questions include what are the rules of engagement? Will the no-fly zone cover all of Libya - or just over areas occupied by pro-Gadhafi forces? Who would be involved and for what length of time?

Captain Parker says once those issues are resolved, the hard work begins.

"This is where it gets to be very complicated, because you can imagine, you need multiple aircraft: you need fighter aircraft; you need tanking aircraft; you need surveillance aircraft," he said. "You’ve got to have a plan. You’ve got to be able to communicate with all the multiple aircraft that will have to be involved, you have to coordinate their activities," continued Parker. "So when you say setting up a no-fly zone, it’s certainly possible, but it is  difficult. It is very, very complicated and it will be expensive and possibly dangerous because the Libyans have - at least on paper - at least 200 surface-to-air missiles, some of them very capable, older systems, particularly the Soviet SA-6."

However Peter Felstead, editor of London’s Jane’s Defense Weekly, says many of the Soviet supplied surface-to-air missiles may have fallen into disrepair.

"Pretty old equipment and not necessarily much by way of professionalism in terms of manpower behind it," said Felstead. "But of course, if there is just one surface-to-air missile that is of a decent enough range, and is active, then that does present a threat."

General Deptula says a no-fly zone is only one of several options being considered. Another one would be to locate the bases used by Libyan aircraft attacking rebel positions.

"So you find out where is that base the aircraft came from and that evening, half of that squadron of airplanes disappears under a cruise missile attack," he said. "Do you think those pilots in that squadron will want to go out and fly the next day? Probably not. That’s the kind of options that need to be considered that may be effective without a default solution of putting up hundreds of airplanes over the country to establish a no-fly zone."

Both General Deptula and Captain Parker say any military action against Libya, including the imposition of a no-fly zone must have the approval of the international community, that would give the mission its legitimacy.

They say the ideal situation would be to have a United Nations Security Council resolution backing the no-fly zone. But already two of the council's permanent members - Russia and China - say they do not approve of such a move.

Parker says he understands the thinking of some countries.

"One of the reasons you could imagine why nations are reluctant to get involved, is where does this end? When do you declare victory? When do you achieve what you’re after with a no-fly zone and what’s the measure of effectiveness? If we impose a no-fly zone, is this something that will last a week?" he said.

Or, said Parker, will it last for years as did the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq.  

For his part, General Deptula asks - on whose behalf will the international community be acting in setting up a no-fly zone over Libya?

"Who is the authority on behalf of those who are resisting Gadhafi that are asking for this support? Who is their leader and how are we to be assured that they are not going to be as bad or worse than Gadhafi, once they are in power?

Deptula says if the U.N. Security Council fails to back a no-fly zone resolution, then other groups can give such an endeavor legitimacy. He says NATO or the African Union could ask for a no-fly zone over Libya - and that will be enough to put it in place.  

You May Like

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid