America's secret war in Libya

But behind the scenes, the U.S. military played an indispensable role in the Libya campaign, deploying far more forces than the administration chose to advertise. And at NATO headquarters outside Brussels, the U.S. was intimately involved in all decisions about how the Libyan rebels should be supported as they rolled up control of cities and oil refineries and marched toward the capital, Tripoli…

• All this was crucial in supporting the European effort. But U.S. involvement went way beyond that. In all, the U.S. had flown by late August more than 5,300 missions, by Pentagon count. More than 1,200 of these were strike sorties against Libyan targets.

• The administration largely stuck to Obama’s decision that the U.S. would not put boots on the ground in Libya (although the CIA did have agents inside Tripoli). British and French special forces were on the ground, training and organizing the insurgents—as were units from two Arab nations, Qatar and Jordan. But their communications relied on a satellite channel run by the U.S. And the U.S. also supplied other high-tech gear—NATO sources declined to describe it, but apparently it had never been given before, even to allied special forces.