Lessons from Libya

#1
Now it seems David Cameron is basking in his very own 'Maggie circa 1982' moment what are the political, operational, strategic and equipment lessons to be drawn from the last 6 months or so?
  • Can air power really win
  • Carriers would/would not have made things easier/quicker/cheaper
  • Its a template for the future
  • NATO can only pick on weak states
  • Apache is better than a Harrier
Interested to see what people think of both the wide and narrow issues

Forget what is happening in Tripoli or even what might happen in the future, what lessons can we draw
 
#2
HMS ARK ROYAL with 18 SHAR / GR9 onboard would have caused the Libyans to spontaneously surrender, thus enabling Saint Sharkeys book to be sold in yet another country, and providing him with more royalties?
 
#4
Now it seems David Cameron is basking in his very own 'Maggie circa 1982' moment what are the political, operational, strategic and equipment lessons to be drawn from the last 6 months or so?
  • Can air power really win
  • Carriers would/would not have made things easier/quicker/cheaper
  • Its a template for the future
  • NATO can only pick on weak states
  • Apache is better than a Harrier
Interested to see what people think of both the wide and narrow issues

Forget what is happening in Tripoli or even what might happen in the future, what lessons can we draw
A. Political
1. Cameron is no less inclined to place our servicemen at risk than Blair for his own legacy moment.
2. The change of government has made not a jot of difference in respect of what our core foreign policy goals are.

B. Strategy (how to go about achieving A)
3. Slapping uppity wogs coz its easy remains the foreign policy tool of choice.
4. Deliberately lieing to the public about your real intent, to get them onside, and then doing something completely different - remains.
5. Superior air power does not guarantee strategic success; air power from the sea viz-z-viz the land does not change this paradigm

C. Operations
6. Pretending that a complex civil war is a simple them & us and assisting one element against another is flawed and dangerous
7. Superior air power does not guarantee operational success; air power from the sea viz-z-viz the land does not change this paradigm

D. Tactics
8. These are irrelevant in a strategic and operational vacuum or where the strategy and operational plan is incoherent to the point of buffoonery.


PS. It is well worth remembering under what mandate NATO is operating. Has airpower protected 'innocent' Libyan civilians?
 
#5
It will be interesting to know to what lengths HMG will go to reinforce flawed and failed policy. The track record is a tale of woe. Anybody remember Gukurahundi, for example?
 
#6
HMS ARK ROYAL with 18 SHAR / GR9 onboard would have caused the Libyans to spontaneously surrender, thus enabling Saint Sharkeys book to be sold in yet another country, and providing him with more royalties?
DS will be along shortly to stick pins in your for that demonstration of a lack of faith in the one true God!
 
#7
We should identify potential politicians while they are still in playgroup and give them toy soldiers and model armies to play with to their hearts content.

Hopefully that way, they won't need to play with real armies when they grow up and go to Westminster.
 
#8
Aside from politics and lack of strategy I think one of the key lessons has been the utility of the amphibious ship and the ability of non FAA aircrew to operate effectively on board a big grey floaty thing.

Paveway IV and Storm Shadow justified their investment

The need for a decent AAR capability was amply demonstrated and the ISTAR piece was yet again, shown to be equally as important as the weapon systems. Both Nimrod R1 and Sentinel showed their utility which is a shame as until AirSeeker comes into service there is a gap right there and Sentinel goes out of service after Afghanistan.

Did we miss MRA4?
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
cameron must be getting pretty pissed that the world wont let him take his holidays
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
Aside from politics and lack of strategy I think one of the key lessons has been the utility of the amphibious ship and the ability of non FAA aircrew to operate effectively on board a big grey floaty thing.

Paveway IV and Storm Shadow justified their investment

The need for a decent AAR capability was amply demonstrated and the ISTAR piece was yet again, shown to be equally as important as the weapon systems. Both Nimrod R1 and Sentinel showed their utility which is a shame as until AirSeeker comes into service there is a gap right there and Sentinel goes out of service after Afghanistan.

Did we miss MRA4?
paveway is standard but stormshadow? when they lie about what it costs and tomahawk is cheaper with longer range - the only reason to buy stormshadow is the excuse of keeping airplanes to lob it off.

considering the air surveillance assets thrown up which were just about adequate the extra room, surveilance packages and loiter time in the mra4 would probably have helped matters, especially if the cdg had left station earlier. without the cdg the apache and ocean would have been laughable. not that it wasnt anyway due to the operational restrictions. the show of 'force' and commitment was pathetic, no wonder brother leader thought he could wait it out.

I imagine there will be huge sighs of relief in the mod as in their eyes they didnt look like the buffoons the rest of the country sees them as. medals and promotions all round as we desperately need more brass.

still for a UK op it was cheap at 6 times the price it should have been
 
#11
Tea towels and sheep, that's the issue, tea towels and bloody sheep!


1982: We have to liberate our sheep shaggers and their tea towels

1991: We have to liberate chaps in tea towels with lots of sheep

2001:We have to slap some chaps in tea towels with lots of sheep

2003: We once more have to liberate lots of chaps in tea towels with lots of sheep

2011: This liberating chaps with tea towels and lots of sheep is starting to get a bit tedious.
 
#12
If, owing to the distances from your air bases, you are unable to provide sufficient coverage to prevent your enemy from transiting highways in broad daylight with relative impunity for several months on end to use his armed vehicles and mobile rocket launchers, etc., against those you are meant to be protecting, then operations are likely to be protracted resulting in greater loss of life.

That said, well done to FAA, AAC and RAF aircrews and the crews of RN ships & submarines for eventually achieving the aim. They all performed admirably.

N.B. I didn't mention carriers or Harriers once :smile:
 
#13
If, owing to the distances from your air bases, you are unable to provide sufficient coverage to prevent your enemy from transiting highways in broad daylight with relative impunity for several months on end to use his armed vehicles and mobile rocket launchers, etc., against those you are meant to be protecting, then operations are likely to be protracted resulting in greater loss of life.
Hate to burst your bubble, but Gadaffy Duck lost all strategic mobility the minute fast air turned up…*no Harriers required.
 
#14
... I think one of the key lessons has been the utility of the amphibious ship and the ability of non FAA aircrew to operate effectively on board a big grey floaty thing.
How so?

To both points, I don't think the Libyan adventure has told us anything we don't already know. Amphibious ships have done exactly what we expect of amphibious ships in respect of tactical capabilities, and this is hardly the first time non-RN/FAA folk have flown of naval vessels successfully.

What NEW lessons are there from this?

Paveway IV and Storm Shadow justified their investment
How so? Just because they've been used, does not in itself demonstrate either their cost effectiveness (ie investment value) or the relative effectiveness compared to other ordnance.

The need for a decent AAR capability was amply demonstrated and the ISTAR piece was yet again, shown to be equally as important as the weapon systems. Both Nimrod R1 and Sentinel showed their utility which is a shame as until AirSeeker comes into service there is a gap right there and Sentinel goes out of service after Afghanistan.

Did we miss MRA4?
Move along please meridian. Nothing to see here. Please return to sharp pointy things as everything else is just a distraction to real soldiering in peacetime.


If, owing to the distances from your air bases, you are unable to provide sufficient coverage to prevent your enemy from transiting highways in broad daylight with relative impunity for several months on end to use his armed vehicles and mobile rocket launchers, etc., against those you are meant to be protecting, then operations are likely to be protracted resulting in greater loss of life.
The mandate of the mission was to protect civilians. It was NOT to provide CAS to one side or the other. The 'failure' to attack said targets had nothing to do with the from SEA or from LAND argument.

That said, well done to FAA, AAC and RAF aircrews and the crews of RN ships & submarines for eventually achieving the aim. They all performed admirably.
The aim was to protect civilian life. So far, that has not been achieved with any great success and secondly, the mission is surely far from over. Unless of course you consider things are over and success can be proclaimed once regime change has occured as per Baghdad and Kabul and not forgetting my earlier pointer to Zimbabwe.
 
#15
Lessons to be learned? Let's look at the media.

Sky News got the first 'correspondent' into Green Square - Alex Crawford.

All we got were lots of images of Alex Crawford telling us that "lots of people want to celebrate and fire guns". Not their fault, but the down link meant that the pictures of people dancing about were worse than an Atari video game (remember them)?

Meanwhile the BBC had nobody anywhere near Tripoli and had to rely on Adnan Nawaz (Sports Correspondent) to **** about in a studio with the usual suspects pontificating about an event that they were not able to witness for themselves, even via satellite.

24/7 Rolling News? Bring me a bowl that I may vomit.




Oh. I may be a bit intemperate here, but as much as I would like to see the Colonel hanging from a lamp post, I would also like to see Baroness Ashton, who has just been on Sky claiming the credit for all of this, bent over a table, while Kenny Ball inserts the bell end of his rag man's trumpet into her hoop to play Fascinating Rhythm accompanied by his Jazzmen, clicking their fingers in a syncopated way.

Sky News/Trumpet up Hoop/Natural Justice/Jobdone.com
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
Hate to burst your bubble, but Gadaffy Duck lost all strategic mobility the minute fast air turned up…*no Harriers required.
yes they were they just werent ours
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
The bbc tripoli hacks were confined to the hotel though to be fair and you didnt see any of the sky lot either. It was likely sheer luck the sky bird was on the right pickup truck.

If the mission was indeed to protect civvies then protecting them from italy was a shit idea. If organics are going kinetic on your village you dont want to have to wait 4 hours for someone to drop a bomb which can only hit the easy targets or wait for a missile to hit an unoperational airbase 120 miles away. You want fast air quick and close not a few choppers called up to justify their woefull expense which cant operate properly in the AO due to lack of ground support.

All we've done here is prove that with the 4th largest defense budget we no longer have a worthwhile ground attack capability as we have frittered it away since the 90's so its a good job they werent providing any serious resistance. And we cant deploy enough naval assets anywhere if they are needed because we havent got them unless they are passing by on the way to be scrapped. We could have bombed them for the next 10 years with no result unless we got a lucky hit but the rebels won this with 60 year old weapons and pickup trucks so good on them and I hope they get what they deserve.


There will be lots of back patting but it was a fcuking appalling display from everyone concerned except the french who led the way from day one, the whole campaign was lots and lots of mouth but no trousers to back it up. It was pathetic and I wish the argies would bloody invade just to prove the point :)
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
With regard to naval assets (regardless of type), there was a time when we had a steady trickle of warships in transit through the Med and across the Indian Ocean and dotted about here and there so that there was always ONE (or more) which could be boned for a bit of dirty work when needed - Korea 1950, Mauritian independence, Tanzanian army mutiny, Kuwait 1964 or whenever it was, Greek earthquakes, Rhodesian UDI etc etc. Nowadays this is a bit unlikely, HMG might get lucky or might not. For Libya we seem to have had to rob anti-piracy, the Gulf and the Falklands from time to time in order to provide a presence.
 
#19
We need to spend more or accept that we can do less. That would seem to be the main lesson we should learn.

Even ten or fifteen years ago (so not going back to the days of the RN ruling the waves) we could have put an aircraft carrier with fighter and ground attack aircraft and a half decent number of frigates and destroyers as an escort off the coast and we would have had a good number of Tornadoes, Jaguars and Nimrod to base in Italy/Cyprus/Wherever to integrate with the carrier air. Now we've got the RAF saying that a very small and virtually unopposed bombing campaign against a tottering North African dictator is making them struggle, we don't have any carrier planes or Nimrod and our escorts are being turned into razor blades as fast as the RN can sail them home. It's ****ing sad really.
 
#20
If the mission was indeed to protect civvies then protecting them from italy was a shit idea. If organics are going kinetic on your village you dont want to have to wait 4 hours for someone to drop a bomb which can only hit the easy targets or wait for a missile to hit an unoperational airbase 120 miles away. You want fast air quick and close not a few choppers called up to justify their woefull expense which cant operate properly in the AO due to lack of ground support.
Indeed.

But the provision of CAS to one side in a vicious civil war is also not what was called for. Both sides have been lobbing direct tank fire, indirect tube and rocket artillery and light arms munitions into civilian populated areas. By the letter and the spirit of UNSCR1973, the Western Anti-Gadaffi Alliance (WAGA) was/is obliged to strike anybody threatening life.

They'd be obliged to bomb Benghazi as much as Tripoli! But we can't have the WAGA slapping rebels can we? It also doesn't look too good if the WAGA is overtly providing CAS to the rebels, does it?

Far better for the WAGA to simply operate pre-planned bombing missions against known fixed infrastructure.

The assumed tactical advantages of carrier aviation is irrelevant in the face of the political restraints.

There will be lots of back patting but it was a fcuking appalling display from everyone concerned except the french who led the way from day one, the whole campaign was lots and lots of mouth but no trousers to back it up. It was pathetic and I wish the argies would bloody invade just to prove the point :)
Frankly, we should have copied the Krauts and let the French take the strain. Of all EU states, the Italians have the greatest national interest in the matter - and thus should have taken the lead. Did they? Why not? Why should the UK have wasted a single penny on Project WAGA?
 

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