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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Pressure Cooker

Gaddafi's loyal (and presumably well paid) mercenaries are well armed.  Gaddafi is known to posses mustard gas, possibly VX nerve gas, and without a doubt, Mr. Gaddafi has stockpiles of rocket launchers, grenades, heavy caliber weapons, tanks, light armor, and the list goes on.  He's armed and dangerous to say the least.  Lest we underestimate this man, it should be recognized that he has enormous firepower. 

Sheer firepower, however, is not a panacea for Gaddafi's ability to survive, because all that firepower is manned by paid mercenaries from other countries, and they are entirely self serving.  Given a choice between quick wealth and death, they will elect to cut their losses and disappear in the night under the cover of darkness.

The World has not been standing idly by as this horrible situation has unfolded.  Everything that can be done is, in fact, being done.  And all of it in an orderly and hurried pace.  Many of us forget that it is not easy to unbuckle thousands of expatriates working in Libya from their remote desert oil rigs and production operations.  To complicate matters, we have to extricate thousands of people while trying to keep Gaddafi from coming unhinged.  He is, after all, a cornered and rabid animal capable of anything.  Remember, Gaddafi has chemical weapons, and we have seen lunatics release chemical weapons before... remember Saddam Hussein's willingness to use chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja?

On the diplomatic stage, the table has been set.  The League of Arab States, the African Union, and the United Nations have all gone through their mechanisms of condemnation, setting the stage for military intervention.  Financial assets have been frozen, the paperwork is now comple.  The i's have been dotted and the t's have been crossed.  All that remains is to get as many civilian innocents out of the way as we possibly can.  A few more remain... but the vast majority have been collected and escorted out of harms way. 

The potential to destabilize US foreign relations throughout the Middle East and North Africa are clearly understood.  The creation of a third front for an embattled Obama administration that already pours billions of dollars into the region all during a time when the economy is struggling is not exactly a recipe for winning votes... and the election is coming fast.

Now the reports of SAS forces on stand-by to take out chemical weapon stockpiles have surfaced.  Look around the neighborhood and give some thought to potential for assets that could be used.  Here's a list of units that have been rumored to be available should some military intervention occur:

The U.S.S. Kearsarge is a floating palace for Jarheads, otherwise known as the flagship for a United States Marine Expeditionary Strike Group.  Can you say "Thump"

Another Jarhead palace complete with the latest landing craft.

While Robert Gates says he has no enthusiasm for a military intervention in Libya, I can assure you that nobody's getting in on this action unless the Marines are allowed to come out to do their work... after all, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of where?  Oh yeah, TRIPOLI" - any operation that the U.S. might be involved in would have Marines written all over it and Admiral Mike Mullin has a special affection for the Marines.  Like the well disciplined Navy man he is... he will see to it the Marines have a first class ride to any altercation.

Just to make sure there's some extra in reserve, the entire 6th Fleet and the 5th Fleet are close at hand, capable of flying strike sorties at the drop of a hat.  In short, there has never been a time when so many special forces or so much military hardware have been quickly available and at hand.... ever. 

So the hammer is there, the velvet glove has an iron fist inside of it.  All that awaits are two things... identify as much money as possible and freeze it, and remove as many innocents as possible.  For now, however, the Secretary of Defense and his counterparts have decided that it is best to be prepared and point out that a "no-fly" zone requires air strikes to remove the threat of ground to air missiles and various air defense infrastructure, not to mention the command and control assets that have to be eliminated.  While some might argue that a no fly zone would require only surgical air strikes, it is important to remain cognizant that there is a strong probability that Mr. Gaddafi would have key installations placed close to the civilian population, essentially using them as a human shield.  Further, any intervention could be viewed as an invasion designed to grab Libyan oil.  Without a doubt, those who dislike the West will certainly leverage this for propaganda value.  So stay tuned, we'll find out what happens. A pressure cooker like this can only stay of the stove for so long.  The policy makers will be working late nights for a while.  

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