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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on March 2nd, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Gates Says No Fly Zone Would Mean War With Libya

» by in: US Military

So is everybody ready for Operation Libya Freedom?

Short of a U.S.-led military offensive, international options to quickly force Moammar Gadhafi from power now appear to be highly limited, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for an end Wednesday to “loose talk” about steps that would amount to an act of war.

There are still hopes that U.N. sanctions and other diplomatic moves can undermine Gadhafi’s authority, and Libyan rebels pressed their fight against troops loyal to Gadhafi on Wednesday.

But while a leading U.S. senator urged the Pentagon to be prepared to provide air cover for the rebels, there was little evidence of an appetite by the U.S., Europe or other powers to risk the consequences of military intervention.

Gates captured the mood in telling a congressional panel, “Let’s call a spade a spade: A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya” to destroy its air defenses. His point: To ground Libya’s air force in a way that minimizes risk to U.S. or coalition pilots would mean initiating an act of war in an Arab land.  [Associated Press]

It is amazing how full circle the Pentagon has come when instead of having a Secretary of Defense urging the politicians for war, now we have one that appears to be urging the politicians against it.  Here is a question, how come the Europeans do not implement the No Fly Zone themselves for a change?

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  • JoeC
    9:34 am on March 2nd, 2011 1

    There are many things those with the NeoCon military interventionist mindset never consider.

    * Most nationalists in these situations are apathetic, but as soon as we were to intervene it would galvanize nationalionalism against the outside "invaders." So, it would actually work against the opposition we are trying to support.

    * It would be used as an argument that the US is inciting all of this in other Arad countries and rally nationalism there too.

    * Many rebels would assume were are ready to lead their fight and let up on their own initiative.

    * Once we get in, what's the plan for getting out?

    * Are we then assumed to have taken responsibility for the outcome, rebuilding the country and the government? (The Powell Pottery Barn argument)

  • kangaji
    9:43 am on March 2nd, 2011 2

    Ronald Reagan commited an act of war in 1986? Shocking!

  • Retired GI
    10:50 am on March 2nd, 2011 3

    #1 Since when did Hillary Clinton become a "NeoCon military interventionist"? She was the one I heard mention it being on the table. :)

  • setnaffa
    10:55 am on March 2nd, 2011 4

    Joe, there are not many "neocons" calling for a no-fly zone… it's the news guys and the Democrats… Like John Kerry…

    Those dirty war-mongers… ;-)

  • Workingman
    11:26 am on March 2nd, 2011 5

    "Here is a question, how come the Europeans do not implement the No Fly Zone themselves for a change?"

    Don't you know it's all about who has the oil contracts? Americans didn't have the oil contracts in Iraq, and look what happened there.

  • Pops
    3:11 pm on March 2nd, 2011 6

    To quote another Democrat on use of the military in international affairs: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?” Attributed to Madeleine Albright, as remembered in Colin Powell’s memoir. Or, as she recollected: "What’s the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can't use it?"

    As for the the current situation, a NFZ to what end? To enable who, to do what, to, for or with whom for what purpose? Please, no more Vietnams, Somalias, Kosovos, Iraqs, Afghanistans, etc. All the best and the brightest in every generation haven't been impressive yet in all of this foreign affairs forays…

  • Retired GI
    3:38 pm on March 2nd, 2011 7

    POPS has a very real point.

  • Teadrinker
    3:41 pm on March 2nd, 2011 8


    Yes, what's the point of a no-fly zone if it threatens your interests (i.e. American oil companies doing business in Lybia)?

  • Retired GI
    3:51 pm on March 2nd, 2011 9

    Where do you get your oil?

  • Pops
    4:24 pm on March 2nd, 2011 10

    #8, Why do you tie my comment to American oil companies? What axe do you have to grind? Are you in favor of No Fly Zones for any reason?

  • Zilchy
    6:21 pm on March 2nd, 2011 11

    "Where do you get your oil?"

    Isn't Canada self-sufficient in obtaining it's own oil supply? Separating it from sand pits being a major source. A royal pain in the arse, but plentiful none the less.

    Can the U.S. afford another war? Should we ask the Chinese if we can enter another armed conflict?

  • Teadrinker
    8:32 pm on March 2nd, 2011 12


    "As for the the current situation, a NFZ to what end? To enable who, to do what, to, for or with whom for what purpose? "

    I was answering your rhetorical question with one of my own. In other words, I was agreeing with you.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:42 pm on March 2nd, 2011 13

    So Teadrinker why don't the Canadians go lead an international effort to install a no fly zone over Libya?

  • someotherguy
    12:29 am on March 3rd, 2011 14

    Cause the neither Canadians nor the Europeans have the military capacity to secure the airspace over Libea, much less actually enforce it. This is one of the con's to the US's grand strategy. People always wonder why we go around being the beat cop of the world while spending outrageous sums of money. It goes like this.

    We do it so nobody else would do it, instead they all let their military's fall apart and turn into nothing more then shiny toy barely worth bringing out for a parade or two. What you get after awhile is that the rest of the world demilitarizes and the USA is left as the only nation with a military capable of large scale warfare. It takes time for any nation to re-militarize and get build its own MIC, this gives the US lead time to analyze and determine a potential competitor nations capability. This way we're not sitting around waiting for some ~nation~ to decide it wants a piece of us and initiate a war, we'll see and be able to act upon any invading force before its even built.

    This is all post WWII thinking when you had a bunch of powers all looking around trying to find out a way to conquer each other. For the most part its worked, almost every big nation has demilitarized and the only ones left are the little dictators and the USA, of course China is starting to gear themselves up and Putin is wanting a round 2. Neither of those nations will do anything unless they think the USA is incapable of defending itself or its allies. They don't want to start a pissing contest when their so far behind in military power.

    The PRO's are that you don't actually have the social-economic disaster that a war on US soil would produce while creating an industry that is almost entirely staffed by citizens who are loyal to the USA (in theory). The CON's are that your stuck with doing everything in the world as nobody else has the capability and your seen as the big mean adult by all the snot-nosed kids on the play ground, your only challengers being the bull headed kids who refuse to listen to anyone.

    In short, no other nation has the capability to do anything because they don't want the responsibility that comes with that capability. Its easier for them to throw up their hands then do actually do something.

  • Pops
    1:37 am on March 3rd, 2011 15

    Roger, Teadrinker, agree. As for NATO, member nations COULD impose a NFZ, IF they wanted to – the alliance has the military capability between member States. However, it doesn't appear there is any common political will or purpose among the various members for such a move. As for Libya, the US is darned if it does, and darned if it doesn't get involved. The Islamic world (writ large, not as a Caliphate (again, yet…) is at best indifferent, at worst hostile to intervention and nation building in their traditional areas.

  • Conway Eastwood
    1:42 am on March 3rd, 2011 16

    Operation Libya Freedom? Sounded like a good idea in 1991, not so much in 2011.

  • Retired GI
    1:53 am on March 3rd, 2011 17

    #14 Someotherguy, THAT was nicely done.

  • JoeC
    2:38 am on March 3rd, 2011 18

    To establish a no fly zone you have pretty much eliminate the country's air defenses and intimidate it's air fleet into staying on the ground. That would require getting permission from some place in reasonable flying distance to use as a airbase to launch the no fly forces. In the case of a Libyan no fly zone, that would probably have to be southern Italy/Sicily. To maintain an around the clock no fly force from that distance would be very expensive. The alternative would be from the decks of aircraft carriers, something only the USA and very few other countries could participate in and again, very expensive.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    3:10 am on March 3rd, 2011 19

    @#14 – I know the reasons quite well but I was trying to get Teadrinker who seems so eager to implement a NFZ over Libya to explain why his country (Canada) and the Europeans don't take care of this.

    Over at the US Naval Institute site there is actually some really good grown up discussion on the challenges of the US implementing a NFZ over Libya for those who are interested. Basically it is easier said than done and the only nation that can implement it is the US military and even for the US military it would be a tough mission.

  • someotherguy
    4:44 am on March 3rd, 2011 20


    Yeah too much airspace to cover and we don't have many reliable airbases nearby. We'd be forced to use two or more aircraft carriers constantly rotating aircraft out. Its possible but would consume too much manpower and equipment to be worthwhile. Air-strikes then let the rebels finish the job would be a better plan, but then we're interfering where we should be. It would be helpful if there was a decent US friendly nation over there that could do the striking and assisting for us.

  • Teadrinker
    7:32 am on March 3rd, 2011 21

    "So Teadrinker why don’t the Canadians go lead an international effort to install a no fly zone over Libya?"

    We don't need Lybian oil. Besides, why would the Harper (Bush-light) care about something that increases the profits of the oil companies that back him?

  • ChickenHead
    2:48 pm on March 3rd, 2011 22

    Interesting take on Gates and the state of our two wars… though nothing unexpected.

  • Tom Langley
    5:12 pm on March 3rd, 2011 23

    We are already involved in two wars in the middle east. Do we really need to get involved in a third war? I believe that we should only get involved in a war if it involves the national interest of the US. We got involved in Afghanistan because the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 were based there. We got involved in Iraq because of the believe that Saddam was involved with terrorism such as funding suicide bombers & the possibility of either the use of or the proliferation of WMD's. We all know that the Iraq war is the subject of much dispute which I wont comment on. What is our national interest in getting involved in Libya? I say there is none. JoeC in comment #1 is correct. Once the US gets involved the Imams will say that we are foreign infidel invaders trying to crush Islam & trying to steal their oil. They will all unite against us. I say stay the hell out. We should drill for oil here in the US, develop algae biopetroleum & nuclear fusion for the future & let the Libyans settle their own scores. When will we ever learn?

  • Liz
    12:38 am on March 5th, 2011 24

    #19 Link:

    Good discussion. But one thing I didn’t see touched on there (unless I missed it) was phase inspections. Periodic phase inspections are critical to aircraft maintenance and those can take the planes out of commission for a week or more. The more flight hours the planes undergo, the more frequent the inspections…they might be postponed, but they can only be postponed for so long and then the planes start to fall out of the sky. Furthermore, the increase in flight hours decreases the life expectancy of the planes, all of which budgetting previously accounted for has to be re-evaluated. There are more “costs” than just logistics and fuel.

    Also expect Gaddafi to make liberal use of human shields around his anti-aircraft capability, to offer the propaganda coup of lost mothers and babies. All to take out 5-10 percent of Gaddafi’s military capability to offer the rebels and advantage (and what are their aims, longterm, anyway?). I can fully imagine adding whatever future Libyan "leader" of the current rebels at present to the long list of bad actors we've hypothetically "empowered" to "deserve blowback" from Christmases past. Our children will have that name on their list and we'll have to try to explain why supporting them made sense at the time. It's never the Easter Bunny versus Satan.

    I think it's best to just let them flush this out on their own. Nothing to be gained, really, by getting involved. And much to be lost.

  • Pops
    3:43 pm on March 5th, 2011 25

    Agree with #23, we DON'T need another Mid-East entanglement. Now someone who might want to take America down a notch or two, who wants to bankrupt the county, financially, diplomatically, militarily, strategically, might want such a thing for some nefarious purpose. But Average Joe and Jane American certainly gain nothing from any fanciful Libyan operations.

    Most excellent remarks at #24 as well, with regard to aircraft maintenance and reliability. Those fighters and bombers Secretary Gates says the USAF doesn't need are getting tuckered out – tactical aviation trainwreck/reckoning is coming, and in the Navy and Marines as well if I am not mistaken. So much for fighting tomorrow's war yesterday, or something like that in the Beltway…

    As for the grown-up discussion #19 points out, it was a very good start at outlining some consideration, and the comments drew out more thoughtful points that might help, e.g. surface ship with AAW capability, use of Malta, etc. I sure hope the powers that be are responsibly considering comments like USNVO made on strategy, goals, objectives, but I am not so confident of that given history and what we have to work with currently. Which goes back to the so what. So impose an NFZ, and then what? For what? What are the consequences anticipated, and possible, intended or unintended? The best and the brightest are clearly not in the present American administration. Hopefully the US and NATO will refrain from jumping into the Libyan mess.

  • Glans
    10:03 am on March 8th, 2011 26

    Pops 25, you speak of the best and the brightest. Which president's North-Korea policy was better than Obama's?

  • Tom
    12:02 pm on March 8th, 2011 27

    "Gates Says No Fly Zone Would Mean War With Libya"

    I guess getting their butts kicked in, in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea in 2002, Americans are chickening out. lol.

  • Pops
    7:43 pm on March 8th, 2011 28

    Glans 26, Not being a Korean expert, I would initially think Reagan's policy was. Reagan clearly understood the threat of emerging nuclear capabilities in North Korea, as well as North Korea's support for terrorism. Not only in the context of the Cold War and the Soviet Union and its allies and satellites, but in the context of what North Korea was, a brutal, repressive and evil regime. He worked through his presidency to improve relations with South Korea, and I think had something to do with influencing the ROK strongmen to allow democratic elections and the development of the democracy the ROK enjoys today. This as well as what seemed to be more cordial relations with Japan in that timeframe, bolstered US relations with key allies in Northeast Asia, which seems wise and appropriate. As the demotivational poster says at link below, even the Norks didn't mess with him:

  • Glans
    9:19 pm on March 8th, 2011 29

    Pops 28, you didn't cite one detail where Reagan's policy was better than Obama's. And by going back that far, do you concede that Obama's policy is better than either Bush's?

    Anyhow, your comment is timely, because Reagan is going to participate in the Key Resolve / Foal Eagle exercise.

  • Pops
    2:00 am on March 9th, 2011 30

    Glans 29, I'm still not a Korean foreign policy expert to answer your thesis statement. What details are you looking for by which to put the present administration on a pedestal? I cannot do that for these poster children. In the context of American foreign policy, and looking at Northeast Asia, and even North Korea, I cannot say anything is better now. Or any better than under even the Bush's. What is (are) the measure(s) of effectiveness of a given foreign policy vis-a-vis North Korea? Is it deterrence of a threat to the south? Is it regime change? Is it less people in the gulags? Is it help from other countries with influence on North Korea? The Cheonan sinking, artillery raid on the NWI, nuke explosion, missile attest to the failure of deterrence, at least on a small scale. The regime hasn't changed, and is in fact preparing for a family transition. Repression doesn't seem to have abated much as the regime works to ensure its control. China isn't helping anyone but themselves by keeping the NK regime afloat.

    Anyway, your question, sans mention of a specific US administration, is an interesting one to mull over looking at the expanse of time since the DPRK was misbegotten. Probably some useful lessons and information would emerge from a fuller examination of that history.

  • JoeC
    6:13 am on March 9th, 2011 31


    I was curious about that too. I was here on my second Korean tour during then Reagan administration and I didn't recall any great interest from them towards the Korea situation. Most of their foreign policy interest was towards South American rebels, Middle Eastern and European terrorist groups and Eastern European communists.

    Reagan clearly understood the threat of emerging nuclear capabilities in North Korea, as well as North Korea’s support for terrorism. Not only in the context of the Cold War and the Soviet Union and its allies and satellites, but in the context of what North Korea was, a brutal, repressive and evil regime. He worked through his presidency to improve relations with South Korea, and I think had something to do with influencing the ROK strongmen to allow democratic elections and the development of the democracy the ROK enjoys today.

    Hmmm? Despite the link to nothing more that a poster and a slogan I could find very little to support the claims.

    The last of the South Korean military presidents ("ROK strongmen") was Roh Tae-woo, who left office 5 years after Reagan. Chun Doo-hwan came into office (took over) about the same time as Reagan came in as president. I found very few milestones between the Reagan administration and those administrations other than getting the Chun administration to agree to limit the range for their missiles development and later, the discovery of a secret South Korean nuclear weapons program and demanding a stop to it. I don't think any of those can be taken as a hard line against North Korea.

    I suppose I might have missed something so I am really interested in what was being referred to here. I look forward to learning more.

  • Dragonfly
    7:33 am on March 9th, 2011 32

    Anything less than mounting one of our ultra secret proton laser death rays on the next shuttle flight in order to cauterize Tripoli, should not even be considered. Let that side of the planet figure out how to establish a NFZ. At this point it's a civil war, a rebellion. Let it play out. Unless of course we had intel that offered proof that Hussein's WMD's had actually been stashed in Libya all this time.

  • JoeC
    8:08 am on March 9th, 2011 33

    At this point, we don't even know who the anti-Gaddafi forces are or what they will ultimately represent.

    When we intervened in the Russian – Afghan conflict, we were sure the Russians were so bad that their mujahideen opposition had to be better. See how that worked out for us?

  • someotherguy
    8:43 am on March 9th, 2011 34

    Don't involved any land forces period. Possibly provide air support of the resistance somehow organizes under a single pro-USA group. And even that is a very shaky maybe. Really if we get involved it'll just add gasoline to the fire, best to let them sort out their own freedom.

  • Dragonfly
    8:52 am on March 9th, 2011 35

    The problem with supporting ANY group, pro American or not, is that as soon as it's advantageous for them to switch sides they'll do it. I wouldn't trust any of them even if they were all carrying American flags and dressed in Uncle Sam suits – especially then.

  • ChickenHead
    11:54 am on March 9th, 2011 36

    Why get involved?

    Let everyone fight it out over there and then open diplomatic relations with the winners.

    Humanitarian aid to the victors is cheaper and more productive than current military aid to warring factions de juer.

  • Retired GI
    9:08 am on March 17th, 2011 37

    #36 ChickenHead—not gonna happen. UN approved the "no fly zone" today, and the military strikes that must take place before hand. Anyone for a three front war? All Muslim countries. The French say they are ready!

  • JoeC
    11:34 am on March 17th, 2011 38

    Even China and Russia agreed! Now, let's see who is tasked to actually contributes the bases and aircraft to get it done?

  • JoeC
    11:41 am on March 17th, 2011 39

    Correction: They abstained.

    Would Korea like to get in some Combat Air Patrol work/training?

  • Tom Langley
    3:36 pm on March 17th, 2011 40

    How many wars are we going to get involved in? I guess two wasn't enough so now we're going to get involved in a third war. I don't have any sympathy for Gadhafi, his terrorists blew an airliner out of the sky over Scotland that killed Americans & they bombed a disco that was frequented by Americans in Berlin but this civil war is not of our damn business. Are we going to get involved in Bahrain or Tunisia next? Since we're going to get involved I hope we can kill Gadhafi quickly by air bombardment & then let's get the hades out.

  • Retired GI
    4:17 pm on March 17th, 2011 41

    #40, I'm all for the quick strikes and home for supper Plan.

  • Retired GI
    4:19 pm on March 17th, 2011 42

    Like that really has a chance of being adopted. Put the hip waders on.

  • Glans
    9:18 pm on March 17th, 2011 43

    JoeC 33, it worked out real well. We got rid of the Soviet Union. That was one of the greatest victories in the history of the world.

    Anyhow, my question still stands. Which president's North Korea policy was better than Obama's?

  • setnaffa
    10:17 pm on March 17th, 2011 44

    #41, we could send the 2nd Bomb Wing out of Barksdale on a "training mission" and their roughly 40-ish B52s could unload enough to wake the Libyan Colonel up and put his feet back on the path…

    IIRC, each "Buff" can carry about 24 JDAMs… Are there 960 worthy targets?

    I must confess to being a fan of "Nuke 'em 'til they glow. Hunt 'em at night." But I'm sure the folks in charge will know how to play the game a bit more delicately and precisely…

  • Retired GI
    12:35 am on March 18th, 2011 45

    #44 I like the way you Think!

  • Greg
    1:57 am on March 18th, 2011 46

    Obama is intervening in Libya to try to get the military votes in 2012.

  • Dragonfly
    2:11 am on March 18th, 2011 47

    I think he'd get more "military" votes by finishing up Iraqistan and leaving Libya alone. I think we'd all like to see a prostate seeking missile flown straight up Ghadafi, but at what cost? As long as we're a part of a larger UN/NATO force and not footing most of the bill and taking most of the risk, it would be easier to sell everyone on it. If they were going to do it, it should have been done a week ago.

  • JoeC
    3:12 am on March 18th, 2011 48

    Those saying, 'it's only a no-fly zone but nothing more' are like the guy who says to the girl, "I'll only put it in a little bit. Not all the way. I promise."

  • Retired GI
    3:22 am on March 18th, 2011 49

    #46 Speaking as a Military man, That dog don't hunt. Only the Officer corp would like war. The Enlisted types, you know, the ones that do the WORK and get little credit for it, NOT so eager to leave the wife, cat, kids and car for some back-water chit-hole for possible death and disfigurement.

    If he wants their vote and mine, how about a frigging raise in PAY. I never made more than 2.5 K without danger pay, hazardous duty pay. Make half that now.

    You never saw war I guess.

    But if you want a nice paycheck and time with the family, the military is probably not for you—unless your an Officer that is.

  • Retired GI
    3:24 am on March 18th, 2011 50

    #48, Isn't that the truth.

  • setnaffa
    4:56 am on March 18th, 2011 51

    The best "No Fly Zone" is like the Soviets built around Moscow…

    Failing the concentric rings of SAM sites and 25,000 kamikaze interceptors, we should either hit Libya hard enough to cause a regime change in out favor (i.e., kill 'em all and export the Mexicans no longer able to work our oil and gas wells since the Obama Administration's moratorium went into effect) or we should stay way the heck out…

  • setnaffa
    4:57 am on March 18th, 2011 52

    Remember how well supporting Castro against Batiste worked out for us?

  • Retired GI
    12:40 pm on March 18th, 2011 53

    I remember. We should stop doing such things. Lets begin by packing up in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Freak the Liberals out by cutting the Military budgets, look at um and say: Your turn!

  • Tom Langley
    12:02 pm on March 19th, 2011 54

    I was opposed to this Libyan involvement to begin with but since military hostilities have begun let's bomb these SOB's back into the Precambrian & then get the hades out. Let's have no bs'ing around, no half stepping around like in the Korean & Vietnam wars. Let's destroy the enemy, airdrop some food & other humanitarian aid then leave.

  • JoeC
    12:31 pm on March 19th, 2011 55


    That's not what the no-fly zone resolution was granted for. The recent missile attacks were to destroy their air defenses to make it safer to do no-fly patrols.

    That's supposedly the limits of our authorization and it could go on for some time.

  • Glans
    1:55 pm on March 19th, 2011 56

    setnaffa 52, at some point we withdrew support from Batista, but we never supported Castro.

  • Limited Kinetic Action: Gates Denies US ‘At War’ With Libya -- News from
    6:13 pm on May 17th, 2011 57

    [...] enough, Gates had been critical of the “no-fly zone” calls in early March primarily because it would, by his own admission, mean a war against Libya. Now that the war is not [...]

  • Limited Kinetic Action: Gates Denies US ‘At War’ With Libya « The Ugly Truth
    7:06 am on May 18th, 2011 58

    [...] enough, Gates had been critical of the “no-fly zone” calls in early March primarily because it would, by his own admission, mean a war against Libya. Now that the war is not [...]


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