Monday, March 28, 2011

NATO Takes Over in Libya

U.S. military aircraft are on the move at Aviano Air Base
NATO's North Atlantic Council approved an operations plan that will shift the entire Libyan military mission to their command. NATO ambassadors unanimously approved a so-called "no-fly plus" plan that will put the alliance in charge of protecting civilians as well as enforcing a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.

"Our goal is to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gadhafi regime," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less."

The new NATO mandate will allow the current coalition, led by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, to stand down. NATO officials described the transition as a phased and seamless operation.

All alliance members will have to abide by the rules of engagement, albeit with caveats that may allow some nations not to participate in operations in Libya. However, it is assumed that none of these nations will prevent other alliance members from executing the military plan and rules of engagement that were approved.

A senior U.S. administration official stressed the NATO mission is to protect civilians and did not rule out the possibility of an attack on the rebels if they were to go on the offensive and strike cities with civilian populations, now held by pro-Gadhafi forces.

Personally, I am glad to see NATO take over, even though I hope you all realize that the United States is not off the hook. The spokesman said this will allow the U.S. to “stand down” –who are they trying to kid? America is the backbone of NATO and the technology needed to enforce a No-Fly Zone is largely contributed and operated by the United States. Having said that, I am still glad the burden of responsibility for actions taken in the near future will be shared by other nations.

The NATO take over has a couple of things to be cautious about, however. First, there is the problem that the overall command has been placed in what is for all intents and purposes, a committee made up of countries that often have a hard time even coming to an agreement on the color of an orange. Second is the little comment that “protecting civilians” could be interpreted as also protecting pro-Kaddafi cities from Rebel attack. This could mean that the conflict, excuse me, this Kinetic Military Action, could grind down into a stalemate and Kaddafi could fortify Tripoli and remain a threat for a long time, making it even harder to get rid of him.

And that, my friends, is what happens when decisive action is left in the hands of international committees….

Oh, and here is a little story in this morning's headlines that should help my friends in New York enjoy their coffee. Apparently the Bronx Zoo has closed their Reptile House because a 20 inch long Egyptian Cobra has "gone missing". Don't worry, they say it likes closed in spaces so they are sure it is still in the enclosure -somewhere. By-the-way, the Egyptian Cobra's venom is so strong a single bite can kill an elephant in hours and a man in 15 minutes.... -Well, I wasn't planning on a visit to New York soon anyway....

Live Long and Prosper....

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