U.S. sending dozens of former military to Libya to hunt for missiles

The weapons experts are part of a rapidly expanding $30 million program to secure Libya’s conventional weapons in the wake of the most violent conflict to occur in the Arab Spring, according to State Department officials who provided new details of the effort.

Fourteen contractors with military backgrounds have been sent to help Libyan officials, and the U.S. government is looking at sending dozens more. Thousands of pamphlets in Arabic, English and French will be delivered to neighboring countries so border guards can recognize the heat-seeking missiles, the officials said. It could grow to become one of the three biggest U.S. weapons-retrieval program in the world, along with those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have not seen any . . . attacks with loose missiles coming out of Libya yet,” said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. But, he added, “We’re working as assiduously as we can to address the threat. It only takes one to make a real difference.”…

Unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has no troops in Libya who can secure the weapons. President Obama has refused to deploy U.S. military forces to Libya to avoid raising hackles both in the Middle East and in the U.S. Congress. Some lawmakers — notably House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) — have called for using U.S. soldiers to secure the shoulder-fired missiles and Libya’s chemical weapons stocks.