President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Monday evening, March 28, to provide details of his position and actions in Libya. He alluded to America’s “unique role” in the world; America, he said, has been a protector of freedom and democracy for decades. He also mentioned that we must protect our interests and values. He labeled Libyan dictator Gadhafi a terrorist who had lost the confidence of his people, and his legitimacy. He noted that the Libyan popular revolution representatives had appealed to the world for help in overthrowing the cruel dictator. Obama said that leadership today demands the creation of conditions so that others may stand and provide support. Leadership, he said, demands that coalitions be created. President Obama stressed that it is not, however, our role in Libya, as it was in Irag, to establish new order, and new governments. He maintained, “Only the people of the region can do that.”
Obama referred to the crash of one of our fighter jets on Libyan soil. Local residents came out quickly and selflessly to help the grounded pilot. They were thankful and called him “friend”.
President Obama’s speech was greeted with a standing ovation. Even the Republican 2008 Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona had favorable commentary on the speech. McCain did suggest however, that the Republicans would have acted more quickly, with less investment in “creating coalitions.” Some on the Republican sides of the aisles earlier complained the president acted too slowly.
These follow-up speakers may have failed to note that, as decisions were made, alliances formed, positions fine-tuned, work was already in progress in consideration of the final plan which the new-formed coalition concurred would likely include a no-fly zone over areas of Libya, near the Mediterranean Sea, so that the soldiers of the revolution would not be overwhelmed by fire from Gadhafi aircraft; planes and helicopters. American Special Forces were already hard at work setting the groundwork for the anticipated intervention. Security and Intelligence reports are available on the World Wide Web.
The Special Forces saw the need first to make contact with the rebels, the opposition to be supported, to create channels of communication and logistics, to give to the opposition forces an overview of the situations they would be facing, and likely responses. Secondly, the Special Forces were faced with a need to identify and study targets for destruction by combined air power. British SAS operators were involved in these matters, and it is speculated that other countries’ operations and intelligence services were similarly involved.
Proposed aircraft placement in the skies had to be managed, not only for stationary targets, but for mobile targets as well. Targets in this case as the plans unfolded with our government at the helm, needed to be of a military nature, particularly relevant to the no-fly zone being established. Included were, for example, airfields and fuel storage facilities, and especially anti-aircraft installations.
Diplomats, too, were hard at work. NATO, on March 26 issued a finding that the United Nations resolution for international intervention would indeed meet their strict requirements. At that time, administration officials were holding wide-ranging discussions on potential assistance a coalition might offer, both on the non-lethal and the lethal side. France, an early leader and participant, backed training and arming the rebels.
It appears at this point that details as to the providing of logistics, such as weapons, food, money for the families of the opposition fighters, are all classified. An interesting article from Iraq mentions that eight British soldiers at one point had been captured in eastern Libya while being escorted in Libya through an area controlled by the opposition. The presence of the British Special forces unit angered Libyan opposition leaders who ordered the eight locked up on a military base. The agents had been moving toward Benghazi in an effort to contact additional anti-government forces. A British newspaper explained the opposition anger: there was fear that “…Muammar Gadhafi could use any evidence of Western military interference to rally patriotic support for his regime.” Also, the British press noted, in relation to that incident and those fears, that Gadhafi was calling upon the United Nations and the African Union to investigate the anti-government protests in the country.