US NATO envoy: A no-fly zone over Libya won’t work

posted at 12:15 pm on March 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The US will continue to talk with NATO allies about imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, the Obama administration’s envoy to the Western military alliance told reporters today, but in all likelihood it won’t happen — and it wouldn’t work even if imposed.  In his conference call with the media today, Ivo Daalder said that the kinds of attacks launched by Gaddafi against the civilian population mainly come from helicopters and other aircraft that would easily avoid the prosecution of a no-fly zone:

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder in a call with reporters Monday said that “the kinds of capabilities that are being used to attack the rebel forces and, indeed, the population will be largely unaffected by a no-fly zone,” Daalder said.

Daalder was not going rogue; he was voicing the skepticism many Obama administration officials have about the efficacy of the push. …

US officials say there was a significant decrease in both fighter and overall air activity over the weekend and, as Daalder put it, “the overall air activity has not been the deciding factor in the ongoing unrest; just as you stated, other things are really determining what’s happening on the ground.”

He underlined that “it’s important to understand that no-fly zones are more effective against fighters, but they really have a limited effect against the helicopters or the kind of ground operations that we’ve seen, which is why a no-fly zone, even if it were to be established, isn’t really going to impact what is happening there today.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper quotes an unnamed administration official asserting that the US could save more lives through humanitarian action rather than a no-fly zone.  Towards that end, Daalder’s efforts appear mainly focused on a more coordinated humanitarian response.  NATO has begun gaming out plans to step up evacuations using naval assets in the Mediterranean, offering a command-and-control center for humanitarian relief, and putting up more AWACS to monitor the situation.

The no-fly zone had its limitations in Iraq as well, when the US and UK imposed it for years during the latter part of  Saddam Hussein’s regime.  The 1991 war all but destroyed the Iraqi air force anyway, which meant fewer challenges for the prosecution of the no-fly zones in the north and south.  It didn’t keep Saddam from wreaking his revenge and establishing his dominance on Shi’ites in the south.  Saddam was less successful on both counts with Kurds in the north.

That leaves the West with few options and a lot of questions about the aftermath of the Libyan revolt.  Europe will face a refugee crisis, especially if NATO starts throwing resources into evacuations; the last thing Egypt and Tunisia need is more revolutionary-minded strangers inserted into their own crises.  All of the other Arab nations (except Iraq) have the same kind of autocratic rule that the Libyans seek to escape.  The only place to send the refugees will be in NATO’s home countries, which is why the EU has to take the lead in pressing forward for a solution.  Right now, the Obama administration appears out of ideas, or at least out of the confidence to put them into place.

Update: John McCain is having none of it. Even if it doesn’t prevent all of the attacks, a no-fly zone would send a powerful message of support to the rebels:

“The President of the United States has said Qaddafi must go – that means that we need to take action,” McCain told anchor Erica Hill. “A no-fly zone would not only stop the air attacks but it would also send a message to the anti-Qaddafi forces that we’re assisting them. There is humanitarian aid that needs to be given, intelligence that we could share with them – a number of areas take we could help these anti-Qaddafi forces without sending in ground troops. And we’re facing a huge humanitarian crisis there, too.”

But can a no-fly zone fly without a ground invasion as well? McCain did not believe so.

“For ten years over Iraq, we imposed a no-fly zone, and the escalation was as a result of 9/11, not because of that,” he told Hill.

“And I will point out again, Qaddafi’s air capabilities are not very great, his maintenance is not good. It’s not that huge a problem when you look at where his air assets are located.”

McCain’s point about sending a message is well taken, but we’d better be prepared for a long and aggressive campaign against the Libyan air force. If Gaddafi survives, he’s going to start coming after the West again as he did in the 1980s.


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I’m very torn over this.

amerpundit on March 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM

I’m fine if we are making choices for strategic reasons.

I really hate this admin talking about how hard these things would be for our military to accomplish. It’s as if they *want* to make it look like our military is weak.

MayBee on March 8, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Sounds like Kadafi used up his air force, at least to some extent. Why not take out the rest of it?

Count to 10 on March 8, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Scooter already has issued an ultimatum to Gaddafi. That, given the projection of power he has demonstrated in recent events, should be enough.

a capella on March 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Proposal:

We’ll support the no-fly zone and push Ghadaffi if the rebels and the future government make a statement supporting the right of Israel to exist.

aquaviva on March 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM

After all of this, what was the point of Obama’s big Cairo speech?

MayBee on March 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM

McCain’s point about sending a message is well taken, but we’d better be prepared for a long and aggressive campaign against the Libyan air force. If Gaddafi survives, he’s going to start coming after the West again as he did in the 1980s.

I think that is a debatable point Ed. Gaddafi does not want to be attacked or invaded. He did not agree to cooperate with the US after Sadaam’s capture because he was all of the sudden a nice guy. He fears reprisal from the US.

If he felt the US would not respond to him taking up his terrorist ways again, he might do it. But otherwise he won’t. And it is far from an automatic that he would.

I still oppose a no fly zone though even if I don’t think Gaddafi will become a potential terrorist threat afterwards if he wins. It serves no useful purpose to us. We have no national security interest and no realistic possibility that a liberal democratic ally will be born out of Gaddafi’s defeat.

NotCoach on March 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM

If you impose a no fly zone over Libya you also have to consider Iran, North Korea, China etc… It’s a wave.

freedomplow on March 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM

The no-fly just makes sense. It won’t be easy, or cheap, but it needs to be done.

That said, I doubt it will. No leadership from the United States. No leadership from the White House.

gary4205 on March 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Having no confidence in how Obama would facilitate an actual no fly zone or what kind of ROE’s he would impose it just doesn’t seem to be a practicle solution.

fourdeucer on March 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM


“it’s important to understand that no-fly zones are more effective against fighters, but they really have a limited effect against the helicopters …”

Riiiiight, because we ALL know a jet can’t shoot down a helicopter!

“GET TO THE CHOPPAH!”

Tony737 on March 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Just nuke em, then take their oil.

Is that wrong?

Kini on March 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Count to 10 on March 8, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Yep.

Fine, we can’t implement a no-fly zone. But don’t tell me we don’t know when Libyan aircraft sortie and return after missions – even helicopters. Find out where they’re coming from or going to, take ‘em out on the ground.

Given Daffy’s history, he would probably keep most aircraft on the ground if we (or NATO) took out an airfield or two and took out some TAB-Vs, etc.

catmman on March 8, 2011 at 12:43 PM

I am not really supportive of a no-fly zone, though I think it would work.

I do think a missile strike against the air bases, fuel depots, and helicopter sortie sites would do a better job, more cheaply, and with fewer risks. You could also toss a few at Daffy’s political infrastructure to send the message that we want him gone. His buddies may take the hint and ‘accidentally’ drive over him with a tank.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I really hate this admin talking about how hard these things would be for our military to accomplish. It’s as if they *want* to make it look like our military is weak.

MayBee on March 8, 2011 at 12:21 PM

No, they want to weaken our military and misuse resources to further weaken it.

If Osama Obama were able to man up and actually make a strategic decision, I’d be tempted to support it even if I didn’t agree with it. His dithering and bumbling and yammering only makes things worse.

I’m with catmman on this. If you wipe out Mad Moammar’s air resources (a relatively simple task for our military, if the Mohammedan Mouthpiece allows it) there’s no need for a “no-fly” zone.

MrScribbler on March 8, 2011 at 12:52 PM

First, I think we need to get the hell out of there. Let them figure it all out themselves. Whoever wins ain’t gonna like us anyway. Those who truly seek a secular republic aren’t organized and the Islamists and others are. If K’daffy goes down, it’s these organizations that will win.
Second, if we do go in, those Libyans who survive the fighting will die of old age by the time we, the U.N. and NATO do anything. If you think something is important enough to intervene, ask for help ONCE and proceed to do what you think is right.
Third, that flimsy excuse about a no-fly zone won’t work against attack craft and helos is hilarious. We would have no need for fighters if that were true. But I’ll go along just to keep us out. I just wish our squish-in-chief would stop using ‘unacceptable’ as he’s clearly accepting the situation.

cartooner on March 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM

You could also toss a few at Daffy’s political infrastructure to send the message that we want him gone. His buddies may take the hint and ‘accidentally’ drive over him with a tank.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Now THAT might be a problem. From several stories and video I’ve seen, K’daffy was never much on building infrastructure in the first place.

cartooner on March 8, 2011 at 12:58 PM

No Fly, no worry, take out his air force.

Wade on March 8, 2011 at 1:02 PM

“The President of the United States has said Qaddafi must go – that means that we need to take action,” McCain told anchor Erica Hill. “A no-fly zone would not only stop the air attacks but it would also send a message to the anti-Qaddafi forces that we’re assisting them.

This is why you’re still a Senator, and not the guy faced with this situation.

Since when did we start working for the rebels? Anyone? John?

Want to send a message to Qaddafi? How about a GBU-31 dead-center on his turban? We’ve got a few just laying around

BobMbx on March 8, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I don’t agree with McCain. See Pat Buchannon’s column today at Human Events for the counter argument to McCain’s. Buchannon sums things up better than I could.

The only things McCain ever seems to be definite about are stabbing conservatives in the back and attacking other countries. Remember bomb, bomb Iran? Then what was his plan I wonder? Now he wants to have not just a no fly zone, but invade Lybia too? Where is he going to get: 1) the money; 2) the troops? Stupid, IMO. If we are going to bomb yet another country, let’s bomb Mexico.

JimP on March 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

I think it’s funny that anyone posting on HA, including ED, think they know enough to have an opinion, one way or another.

NoNails on March 8, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Obama has made a joke out of this once great and powerful nation. Using military power to support democracies and repel tyranny is the duty and responsibility of any great democratic power. Unfortunately, this country has lost its nerve, its credibility and its stature among the world’s nations.

rplat on March 8, 2011 at 1:16 PM

McCain’s point about sending a message is well taken, but we’d better be prepared for a long and aggressive campaign against the Libyan air force. If Gaddafi survives, he’s going to start coming after the West again as he did in the 1980s.

I agree. The French should have hedged their bets about those pesky American rebels in the 17th Century.

unclesmrgol on March 8, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I think it’s funny that anyone posting on HA, including ED, think they know enough to have an opinion, one way or another.

NoNails on March 8, 2011 at 1:12 PM

There are two possibilities — do something or do nothing. We use our historical documents (and not the ones about Gilligan’s Island) to figure out what we would do, and then advocate for doing it. Both courses have their dangers, but which of those courses match our feelings about allowing or supporting a dictator who abuses his own people to remain in power?

I know which one I think, and it has something to do with things the Paulbots don’t think about very often — why the French chose to support our independence. It’s about our morals and ethics as a people.

unclesmrgol on March 8, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Just nuke em, then take their oil.

Is that wrong?

Kini on March 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Yes.

unclesmrgol on March 8, 2011 at 1:25 PM

It wouldn’t quite as easy to get helicopter gunships, but it could certainly be done, particularly if they are attacked after landing.

exhelodrvr on March 8, 2011 at 1:28 PM

“C’mon my friends elect me and help me fight for you!” – Bigmac 2008

moonbatkiller on March 8, 2011 at 1:37 PM

To get a NFZ the rebels must first:

- Form an interim governing body that they recognize as the temporary leadership. This means it is accountable with known names.

- Ask for help and be willing to coordinate with those they ask so as to limit civilian casualties.

- Do the hard ground fighting themselves.

A NFZ can be provided by the removal of anti-air assets via drone coverage, which can get there in hours and loiter for days. Then comes removing any remaining air assets as they appear with manned aircraft.

With a bit of coordination with the ground forces some air suppression can be achieved against loyalists. Perhaps a few Hellfires into Kaddaffy’s HQ might give him a clue.

The rule is: make yourself accountable, show that you are willing to be accountable, protect the people you say you are going to protect, and we will help you. That means an accountable authority structure, names, identifiers on rebel soldiers, and then coordination to help protect civilians.

Do not do this unilaterally and respect the right of the Libyan people to self-govern and make their own way forward with asked-for help. No big banners, no huge campaign, just steady erosion of air capability by loyalists and then air domination thereafter. That requires coordination so as to avoid friendly fire incidents.

If you can’t get those, then why should we do ANYTHING to get shot at by BOTH sides?

ajacksonian on March 8, 2011 at 1:42 PM

He underlined that “it’s important to understand that no-fly zones are more effective against fighters, but they really have a limited effect against the helicopters or the kind of ground operations that we’ve seen,

It’s the CARPET BOMBING that’s needs to be prevented. And you don’t do that with helicopters.

There’s no reason for the United States to pick either side in this conflict, but we should always do everything we possibly can to prevent mass destruction and slaughter of innocent civilians. And, contrary to what this administration keeps saying, genocide is actually not “just a video game.”

logis on March 8, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Disable of destroy all of the military hardware, tanks, planes, helicopters, anti aircraft guns, missiles, etc. and air drop sticks to both sides. Let them have a seventh century civil war. No skin off my back. Oh, and take their oil as payback for Lockerbie.

AZCON on March 8, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Libya is a military basket case.

If NATO can’t defend a tiny air space in the southern Mediterranean (90% of Kaddafi’s air assets are along the sea), then what message of impotence is NATO projecting to our more or less robust enemies?

For what purpose do we maintain NATO bases in Italy, Greece, France and Spain?

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do…

Munich Olympic Massacre
Constable Fletcher Murder
Rome/Vienna Airport Massacres
Berlin Discoteque Massacre
PA103 Massacre
UTA772 Massacre
IRA proxy massacres
EU Nurse Prison Sextortion
Swiss hostage extortion
Libyan civilian massacres

Terp Mole on March 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Libyan Justice Minister admits ‘Gadhafi ordered Lockerbie’

“He told Expressen Gadhafi gave the order to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.

“”I have proof that Gadhafi gave the order about Lockerbie… To hide it, he (Gadhafi) did everything in his power to get al-Megrahi back from Scotland,” Abdel-Jalil was quoted as saying.

everything in his power” …including brutally prison raping EU nurse hostages.

Western leaders remain shamefully silent because this hostage-sextortion-for-terrorist scheme is set to explode in their faces.

Nemo me impune lacessit?

Terp Mole on March 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM

think it’s funny that anyone posting on HA, including ED, think they know enough to have an opinion, one way or another.

NoNails

Well,
actually as a retired war planner (“Think War, Plan on It“) I believe I do have an informed opinion.

We can probably only enforce a coastal no fly operation but not a “no fly zone”, Libya’s a big place but most of the population lives on the coast.

Based on previous experience with our “European allies” it would probably have to be a Naval operation, which has serious restriction on the type and capabilities of the aircraft that would be available.

The good news, the Libya air force flies out of our old base, Wheelus, which sits right on the water.

The bad news, they have some pretty formidable air defense, see below.

Italy, the closest source for USAF based aircraft resources might refuse to let U.S. or NATO aircraft be used from those bases since Libya and Gaddafi (I can spell it any way I want to) have very chummy relations with the Italians including significant investments.

It’s possible that Italy will approve NATO operations but that is far from a sure thing and good warplanners never plan on things going good.

We have naval aviation resource as close at Rota, Spain. That’s a big piece of concrete and most any aviation resource that the U.S. has could probably operate from there. Once again, Spain is not a sure thing either.
Remember that none of our “European Allies” allow American aircraft to overfly their countries when we attacked Libya in ’86 or the ’73 Yom Kippur War; to say they have a track record of wimpishness is an understatement.

Italy was foremost in refusing permission in both of those operations.

Air Assets.

Sorry, I can’t recall what they have but I suspect the bulk of their aircraft are configured to be ground attack and maritime attack. Overall, the ability of the Libyan Air Force to engage in air to air combat will be limited. It’s a specialized talent that most air forces throughout the Middle East lack because it is training intensive.

Air Defense

Libya deploys the SA-2, SA-3, and Crotale missiles. At least one battery of each of these types have been spotted at each of Libya’s three main air bases (Okba Ben Nafi, (Wheelus) Benghazi and Gamal Abdul Nassar). One battery of Crotale sites has been detected at each of the two smaller bases in the southeast. The Libyan Army also operates three SA-5 batteries which are currently at undisclosed locations (presumed to be in storage, but I bet they are moving towards the coast)

These are not insignificant air defense assets but the key is reloads and how those reloads have been maintained (your guess here is as good as mine)

So, short answer (too late) we can provide limited no fly coverage over Tripoli, Benghazi and other areas but without heavy iron (B-52s, B-2s, etc) the serious damage to airfields will be limited.

Air defense will be more robust than Iraq (meh, I’m 50/50 on that) and without pulling aircraft from Turkey and possible Iraq and Afghanistan, conventional ground based assets will be limited.

Since I doubt that Libyan pilots have much night flying experience (not as easy as it seems) I suspect a daylight no fly zone over the major cities will be sufficient – expensive, but that’s not my call – but sufficient.

Besides, maybe some Libyan pilots are just as happy to have a reason not to fly.

E9RET on March 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM

E9RET on March 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM

I very much doubt that their air defenses are either up to date electronically, well networked, or in particularly good shape as far as serviceability goes. That is before you factor in the incompetence of the Libyan operators.

None of which much matters as most of them could easily be taken out before any incoming strike came within range.

Still think a cruise missile strike makes more sense than a constant air presence.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 2:14 PM

The helicopter issue is a cop out. Helicopters are not the problem. The rebels have more than enough heavy machine guns and light anti-aircraft guns to take care of any helicopters daffy Qadafi throws at them. The problem are jets flying at high altitude dropping bombs indiscriminately on cities or refineries.

/former air defense officer

BohicaTwentyTwo on March 8, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Yeah I guess everyone is right – we’re too weak a nation to take on a failing dictator’s rusty-ass air force.

Maybe France can handle this?

HondaV65 on March 8, 2011 at 2:20 PM

The helicopter issue is a cop out. Helicopters are not the problem.

BohicaTwentyTwo on March 8, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Even helicopters do not fly without fuel, weapons and maintenance all of which are not terribly difficult to spot by AWACS if they operate in any numbers.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 2:25 PM

McCain to the rescue! Just like with his support for bank bail-outs. The Arab states support this-at least let them pay for it because we sure as heck can’t afford it. Let Saudi Arabia pay for it with what amounts to pocket change for them.
The great Satan U.S. Hate them if they do like in Iraq-hate them do or don’t in Lybia.

Goodale on March 8, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Heh … we really are a bunch of pu$$ies …

Man – we’ve really come a long way from the “heady” days of OPERATION DESERT STORM! Back then – Sadaam had the largest and best equipped army in the middle east. It was an army that could compete with ANY – if you listened to the MSM reports back then.

We beat that thing in a matter of HOURS – complete and utter wipeout – like a rented mule.

Heh – and that was BEFORE the days of serious GPS coverage – or the internet – or “network-centric warfare”. Hell, we even shot his missiles out of the sky – and we had never done that before.

Now – faced with a failing dictator – bent on committing genocide against his own people – we look at the guy’s rusty-assed air force and say …

“IT’S TOO MUCH FOR US TO HANDLE!”

It’s no wonder American men are rushing to their doctors get Testosterone Replacement Therapy – the whole nation has lost it’s sack!

Let’s call the better “men” of France in here for a rescue shall we?

Why do we need to do this? I’ll tell you why …

Because this guy is going down one way or the other. We don’t know who will replace him – but it will damn sure be the Muslim Brotherhood if we sit here and not lift a finger. If you want a moderate government to take power – you better give some political clout to the moderate voices in the rebel opposition – and the best way to do that is to put this insane dictator’s rusty assed air force on the ground!

No excuses – MAN UP … I guess this is too much to ask though.

HondaV65 on March 8, 2011 at 2:37 PM

think it’s funny that anyone posting on HA, including ED, think they know enough to have an opinion, one way or another.
NoNails

Well, actually as a retired war planner (“Think War, Plan on It“) I believe I do have an informed opinion.
E9RET on March 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Wait just a cotton-picking minute here. I thought only LIBERALS really understood everything there is to know about military matters!

How can this be: all of the trolltards are totally screwed in the head AGAIN????

Gosh, you’d think after like 10,000 times in a row, that would start to get a little bit obvious. But somehow they never seem quite able to pick up on it.

logis on March 8, 2011 at 2:44 PM

OK gang. Indulge me for a minute. If we are going to bomb and possibly invade another country for humanitarian reasons, because the people are oppressed by tyrants, because freedom/democracy is our credo, our ethic, our most high moral principle. Then let’s bomb and invade Mexico. Mex has everything Libya has and more. Mex has a corrupt tyrannical government, it’s a narco-state, the civilians are being murdered at a rate about equal to Kadafi’s crimes, they have invaded us by sending their poor peasants illegally into the U. S. to suck the life out of our entry level job market (robbing citizens of the opportunities and depressing wages), the illegals added tremendously to the housing bubble-derivative corruption mess, and are a huge burden on public assistance programs. The drug lords help throw our balance of trade out of whack sending billions in drugs into the U.S. while we export only dozens of weapons to them. Plus Mexico has oil too. We can bomb, invade, kill, create a DMZ a la Korea between them and us, and pump ALL the oil out of there, nation build Mex instead of some MidEast $#!thole country and the poor people in Mex will have jobs and stop coming here. This plan makes more sense than kicking Kadafi out and still having the Muslims in Libya want to kill us when we leave. Libya is a real can of worms, while Mexico is a plum waiting to be picked, and for all the ‘right’ reasons. It’ll be a win-win. Think about it./sarc

JimP on March 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

If we are going to bomb and possibly invade another country for humanitarian reasons…

Almost no one is talking about invading, just missile strikes or a no-fly zone.

The reason being that it is reasonably cheap and doable with little risk to ourselves to get the oil flowing.

Then let’s bomb and invade Mexico.

JimP on March 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

An order of magnitude larger problem and vastly more complex, and given that the oil is still flowing from Mexico, pointless.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Since you are taking my sarcastic comment literally/seriously, you don’t seem to understand. We TAKE the oil for us, all of it, now. Sure it’s still flowing. Libya’s isn’t coming to us. It’s going to Europe.

Reread McCain’s comments. He is talking about following up the NFZ with an invasion.

Meantime, relax. It was sarcasm.

JimP on March 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Reread McCain’s comments. He is talking about following up the NFZ with an invasion.

McCain is an idiot and always has been.

Meantime, relax. It was sarcasm.

JimP on March 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM

I am relaxed, I just don’t see why the United States has to play the weak sister about something so easy.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I very much doubt that their air defenses are either up to date electronically, well networked, or in particularly good shape as far as serviceability goes. That is before you factor in the incompetence of the Libyan operators.

sharrukin

I don’t disagree. I have first hand experience in the “black arts” of air defense suppression. I was with the 35th TFW “Wild Weasels” during the beginning of the first Gulf War hunting for ADA radar and other AD threats..

Planning for every U.S. air war begins with the expectation of complete or near complete suppression of ground to air threats, regardless of capabilities. And in the combat environment, every electronic emanation that can represent a ground to air radar is a target depending on the type of signal.

Actually, by the end of the first Gulf War I would suggest that more than one “Shrike” was expended on a “noisy” transformer on a telephone pole in downtown Baghdad, “just in case.”

I don’t think think any HARMs were expended in that manner, but I’m not going to handle a bible when I say that.

Pilots tend to be sensitive to anything that might shoot them down and failure by the Intel folks to inform a pilot that there are two kids with slingshots near the primary target will invite harsh comments during the mission debrief. ;-)..and yes, that’s an exaggeration but only a slight one!!!)

I suppose cruise missiles have gotten much better than when I was in but I remain a bigger fan of human eyes on targets.

I’m just old fashioned that way.

E9RET on March 8, 2011 at 3:38 PM

I suppose cruise missiles have gotten much better than when I was in but I remain a bigger fan of human eyes on targets.

I’m just old fashioned that way.

E9RET on March 8, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Well I am not a fan of converting the air force to UCAV’s, let me make that clear. Human pilots are a far better deal, though if we do not become more accepting of pilot losses during wartime, the efforts and costs made to prevent such losses may lead to UCAV’s being the only viable option.

Libya is something of a special case as we are attempting to prevent the use of Daffy’s air assets, but we don’t have that much of an investment if we don’t get everything.

Cruise missiles will generally hit their targets against the air defense that Daffy has, and taking out most of those aircraft and helicopters will essentially remove his air force from the equation. Even those assets we don’t hit will not likely be used any further due to the perceived threat of further strikes.

Attempting to establish a constant air presence seems to be risking our own assets without much of a payback as far as the mission goes.

AWACS can monitor the movements of what aircraft and helicopters Daffy has and if we wish to carry out further strikes that options can be pursued, either by missiles, or a carrier air package.

This allows the rebels to maneuver around the coastal obstructions that Daffy is throwing up without being sitting ducks in the desert. It also puts a great deal more pressure on Daffy’s remaining allies.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Well I am not a fan of converting the air force to UCAV’s, let me make that clear. Human pilots are a far better deal, though if we do not become more accepting of pilot losses during wartime, the efforts and costs made to prevent such losses may lead to UCAV’s being the only viable option.
sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Unmanned aircraft are probably a good supplement to strike capability, but where a human pilot is really needed is in air superiority. With ground targets, you have time enough not to worry about video delays for remote targeting, and you could just have one manned craft highlighting targets while unmanned craft cycle in and out with the ordinance.

Count to 10 on March 8, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Can someone please explain to me why it doesn’t make much more sense to simply give the rebels MANPADS. 100 MANPADS would be much, much cheaper than a no-fly zone yet probably more effective.

blink on March 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Mostly because people worry about them being used to shoot down airliners.

Count to 10 on March 8, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Can someone please explain to me why it doesn’t make much more sense to simply give the rebels MANPADS. 100 MANPADS would be much, much cheaper than a no-fly zone yet probably more effective.

blink on March 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

They can also shoot down airliners and we have no idea who these rebels really are. Maybe if we gave them Sa-7 or Sa-14 Russian weapons which are less effective and already in the Libyan inventory, but giving them the much more effective western or modern Russian weapons might come back to haunt us.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 4:31 PM

blink on March 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Excellent question, IMO. For some it’s probably lack of knowledge of the existence of MANPADS. For others I think it’s some kind of machismo thing. They are tired of Obama making the US look foolish, and out of anger, they want to kick some azz or something. The world knows, and has for decades now, that every time we elect a Democrat as President, that that person is going to be weak and ineffectual and make America look weak and foolish. So the bad actors act up during Dem administrations and advance their interests as much as they can without provoking an all out war. Then we get a Repub who usually will act, but not necessarily wisely, and our ‘prestige’ is restored and all the other countries go back to whining about Pax Americana and how we are imperialist bullies, yada, yada. Eight years of Clinton’s dithering lulled the terrorists into thinking ‘W’ was a wuss too.

JimP on March 8, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Unmanned aircraft are probably a good supplement to strike capability, but where a human pilot is really needed is in air superiority. With ground targets, you have time enough not to worry about video delays for remote targeting, and you could just have one manned craft highlighting targets while unmanned craft cycle in and out with the ordinance.

Count to 10 on March 8, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Even for ground attack, human pilots are better but we need to realize that war requires losses both in men and material. The weapons have to be effective, but cheap enough to be lost. The Germans in World War Two had the better tank in the Panther, but it was an inferior weapon of war to the M4 Sherman and T-34 due to industrial and production issues.

There will come a point when robotic vehicles are the equal of human operators but we are not there yet.

We also need to avoid assuming that what is going on in Afghanistan and Iraq is what war is going to be like. Those are essentially colonial wars without the colonization. A war with another major power will not leave us with the luxury’s that we currently enjoy as far as resources and reaction time.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Oh please, they can easily shoot down airliners with the AA guns I’ve been seeing in the video.

Attempting to tow an AA artillery piece to a modern airport might get you pulled over and ticketed!

Give them 1980s vintage MANPADS.

blink on March 8, 2011 at 4:37 PM

That is what I suggested.

sharrukin on March 8, 2011 at 4:43 PM

Oh come on guys, do any of you really think obama will lift a finger against daffy? Really???

My prediction, alot of fluff and talk (and not even particularly tough talk), at the end of which the US military does absolutely nothing, not one shot fired, and for which obama takes the credit or deflects the blame, outcome pending.

runawayyyy on March 8, 2011 at 5:36 PM

There was an exercise with Soviet era MANPAD trainers in 1994-95 at several large USAF bases. The exercise was sponsored by a major Department of the U.S. Government (not DoD, don’t get ahead of me!!)

The guinea pigs were both enlisted and officers assigned to the base with no ADA backgrounds, clerks and admin types.

The members were provided with a translation of the Russian instructions; it was a single typewritten page. No other instructions were provided the troops were told to read the instruction and shoot down airplanes.

In the beginning they had less than a 50% success rate but by the time they practiced (an important step that probably won’t be available to your average semi-literate terrorist) their success rate was….very high.

The thinking in those days that most large airframes, C-5s, C-18, B-52s, and the now obsolete C-141s would probably survive a single MANPAD attack since the explosive charges were mainly designed to take down single engine fast movers and choppers.

Jes’ sayin’

E9RET on March 8, 2011 at 6:31 PM

We’re broke. We have no idea how we’re going to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, much less how we’d pay for a new adventure in Libya. That this is even under discussion strikes me as insane.

Bugler on March 8, 2011 at 8:22 PM