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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs