Well, it looks like this administration is finally realizing that just proclaiming victory doesn’t make it so. Before we went into Libya, I blogged that it would devolve into a mess without a heavy stability and support operation (SASO) on our part, and that the administration was rightfully hesitant to conduct a no-fly zone due to these realities. The administration then ignored my prescient blog and went ahead with “leading from behind”, with President Obama proclaiming No Boots on the Ground in Libya. We applied our air power, Ghaddafi fell, and we stuck to our guns. No boots on the ground. No helping to restore a functioning government. No follow-through on the vacuum we’d created. We just sat back and watched the country fall into chaos, ultimately resulting in the Benghazi debacle.
This wishful operational framework dovetailed nicely with the administration’s national security team’s new strategic guidance, which could be summed up as, “We don’t like SASO, so we won’t do SASO”. At the time I said this was ridiculous. Like the administration saying, “We ended the war in Iraq”, just saying the words doesn’t make it so, and we’re apparently starting to understand that fact.
Recently, the Department of Defense stated they were preparing plans to train thousands of Libyan conventional and special operations troops over the span of years in an effort to stabilize the disaster that is Libya. Does this mean the administration lied? No. We’re going to do the training in Bulgaria, flying the Libyans there on a rotational basis.
On the surface, I’m okay with the training because of the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you buy it, but it aggravates me that we got ourselves in this mess to begin with. Since we were so short-sighted on the repercussions of felling Ghaddafi – this after watching Iraq fall apart – we now have to attempt to prevent the spread of chaos in north Africa (See MALI) by training security forces in Bulgaria. Why can’t we do it in Libya, you ask? Because the place is such a mess it isn’t safe. We gave that a try, and a militia force came in and stole all of our weapons, NODS and vehicles. Seriously. It would require more security forces than trainers due to the chaos.
What really chaps my ass is the fact that the department of defense is being eviscerated by budget cuts, with all services hysterical about the drop in readiness due to a lack of money for training – leaving the Army with only two brigades combat ready – and yet we now have to use that limited budget to train up someone else’s army because we naively believed we could pound our chest and win a “bloodless” war.
The capstone quote of the Libyan debacle comes from Admiral McRaven, the head of SOCOM. Speaking on Saturday at a national defense forum, he openly stated that there’s some risk of Islamic extremists slipping into the mix and getting trained. Huh. Seems like someone was warning about that before we initiated hostilities in Libya in the first place. Oh yeah, IT WAS ME. How can the entire national security team know less than one retired lieutenant colonel? It sickens me.
I hope all of the people demanding the fall of President Assad in Syria in one breath, but proclaiming “No boots on the ground” with their second breath, are taking notice (yes, I’m talking to you John McCain and Lindsey Graham). Just because you wish it so doesn’t make it so, and the enemy has a vote.