Friday, April 22, 2011
The US is still very involved
From the AFA:
"President Obama has approved the use of armed Predator remotely piloted aircraft in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. Gates said their introduction means "a very limited additional role" for the United States that is consistent with Obama's willingness to provide unique US assets to support the NATO-led mission there. The armed Predators' first sorties on Thursday were limited due to bad weather, said Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, Joint Chiefs vice chairman, at the same briefing. Unarmed Predators previously flew surveillance missions over Libya, he noted. There are now two armed Predator combat air patrols operating in the Libyan theater, said Cartwright. This means that two Predator aircraft can be over areas of interest at all times. Cartwright said "the character of the fight has changed" in Libya, with Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's forces staying out of the open and dispersing and "digging in or nestling up against crowded areas" to avoid NATO air attack. The Predators will enable "better visibility" on such targets and help distinguish the Qaddafi forces, he said. They also provide the ability to strike targets in urban areas with less concern about causing unintended collateral damage, he said."
NATO seems to be filling more of a role of proxy. Early on it was reported that the UK had expended 1/3 of its cruise missile inventories taking out Libyan air defense systems. There was a very real concern that British subs could be sitting off the coast of Libya without any cruise missiles. The US has more depth and greater diversity of weapon systems than the rest of NATO combined. There is no practical way for the US to completely disengage from the no-fly zone. The costs will continue to increase as well the manpower needed to support the no-fly zone.