Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Libya: Did Gaddafi school NATO in the power of professional infantry?

   Gaddafi is quickly turning into my favorite international 'bad guy'.

   It's not like I'm a big fan or anything but his power to piss off the western corporatocracy makes me smile. When you get cast as the lead villain in a fictional war movie called "Odyssey Dawn", it's always good if you can bring a little something extra to the role that makes you stand out. Villains are always more memorable if they wear distinctive clothing (Gadaffi dresses in flamboyant carpets and curtains from '70s porno), have odd habits and strange quirks (Gadaffi brings his tent with him when travelling abroad and pitches it in the gardens of rented multi million dollar mansions while leaving the mansion itself empty) and, as everyone knows, every decent movie villain should have a trademark look; for Gaddafi it's his monster sunglasses fashionable nowhere outside a Florida retirement home. Your authenticity as media hyped evil dude is considerably enhanced if you also happen to have a hot Ukrainian nurse that "monitors your blood pressure" on a constant basis while you shell your own cities to eliminate a  pesky 'rebel alliance', dodge incoming Tomahawks and, most painful of all to the pathological foreign corporatocracy trying to bump you off for your sweet Libyan crude, you also find time to school NATO war planners in the timeless value of professional infantry over a bunch of green part timers in pick up trucks. And pull all this off despite the 'best' air strikes foreign money can throw at you.

   Seriously, you couldn't make this shit up if you had to write your own war movie from scratch.

   Odyssey Dawn was a sketchy piece of fiction from the start. The trailers were crap and any savvy viewer could tell the ending was going to be shitty. It started half way into the story when Gaddafi was a day away from over running the final rebel stronghold of Benghazi. It was the threat of the villain's revenge play that forced the Euros to act with or without US cover and not because the Euros gave a shit about the 'humanitarian crisis' that might ensue after the war. Lets face it, war itself is a humanitarian crisis. Casualties are always fine so long as they are in Africa. Sure, some French liberal crybaby's might wail into their coffee on the Left Bank. But the call to action for Sarkozy, the French Right and his own re election campaign was really the nightmare scenario of boatloads of Muslim refugees flooding into France and adding foot soldiers to those that rioted and torched cars in Paris in 2005. This week, refugee crisis averted, the French passed a law banning women from wearing the suicide bomber suit burqa, a full body black garbage bag that stops horny Frogs eying up chaste Muslim women.

   The French were going to waste Gaddafi's armor and arty and save Benghazi with or without US approval. The fact that Libya stands on 2% of world oil reserves – and supplies 10% of the EU’s oil was another deal sweetener. Not only that, but Libyan oil is exceptionally sweet and pure. It only costs ~$1 to refine a barrel, currently trading at ~$110. The Euros need those fields back online ASAP. When I think about it, the British had the right idea from the start when they Tomahawked Gaddafi's compound on day one. That was probably the only 'easy win' scenario on the table and had to be tried despite Obama's bullshit that Gaddafi was never a target.

   You know things are screwed on NATO's end and they've run out of ideas when they shrugged their shoulders this week and signed off on a prospective peace deal the African Union tried to make for a ceasefire and talks... talks that leave Gaddafi and his sons in power. It's pretty funny that the rebels themselves are against this deal. Those bunch of idiots still think they have a say in this mess. And with the US quietly skulking out of the theater like the guy who just shat his pants and is trying to get to the exit before the smell hits, that leaves the Euros in charge. There are signs now of a rift growing within NATO with Britain and France wanting to double down on air strike intensity and others getting jittery about the whole thing. But unless they are prepared to land troops, there won't be much chance of a military victory by either side.

   Gaddafi must be laughing his ass off.

   As far as the fighting goes, you've got to respect Gadaffi's forces. After the initial retreat from Benghazi, they regrouped and wisely adjusted their tactics. Tanks were obviously major targets of NATO air power so it was best to park them in urban areas where they're harder to spot and target (due to NATO's RoE which involve not wasting civilians although you'd have to be a pretty retarded civilian to stay in your house watching TV with a T-72 parked in you backyard). Gadaffi is using his tanks in Misurata quite wisely it seems because they're proving difficult for air strikes to kill. And urban areas are not somewhere you'd usually deploy tanks but the Libyan army seems pretty shrewd and is adapting to NATO on the fly. Of course this means Misurata is a pretty ugly mess, with thousands of civilians trapped inside and no discernable front line. I see the New York Times wailing that the bad guys are using 'illegal cluster bombs' which is rich considering Gaddafi bought them somewhere and there aren't many munition manufacturers in Africa last time I checked. Footage of the fighting in Misurata seems to reveal a mini Stalingrad with opposing forces occupying random buildings and snipers having a field day.  One clever tactic by Gaddafi's forces that made me spew beer on my keyboard was their use of pick up trucks, pretty much the one thing NATO can't bomb since everyone and their mother in the rebel army uses one.  When the rebels had a similar idea to adopt the enemy's tactics they booted up a tank of their own which NATO promptly bombed killing five. They admitted to a 'targeting error' but refused to say 'sorry' which was pretty funny.

   Gaddafi must have laughed his ass off.

   Speaking of pickup trucks, I see the rebels operating two types, the ones with the DShk 12.7mm Russian machine guns or the ones with the homemade multiple rocket launchers, both weapons mounted on the truck bed. Either way, I always see them firing determinedly off camera but it pisses me off that I never get to see what they are firing at. The enemy? It's pretty risky engaging professional soldiers from the exposed position of an elevated truck bed with a loud banger like the 12.7mm. Seems to me, unless it's some kind of co ordinated attack by the rebels (which I seriously doubt) then that gunner is a sniper magnet advertising his position to every Libyan with a scoped rifle. Or it's all just posturing for the cameras.

Can't hit shit? No worries, ask the skygod to improve your aim.

   The more the world gets to watch the rebels in action, the more chimpanzee shit gets flung at the NATO pencil pushers who got involved in this zoo. It's getting embarrassing at this stage. After Gaddafi booted their asses out of the key oil town of Brega last week, there were reports of groups of rebels firing on each other in a dispute over whose fault it was that they are all a bunch of useless idiots. This whole thing was advertised as a war movie but it's quickly turning into an '80s frat house comedy.

   Gaddafi, in true evil villain style, called it when he characterized the rebels over a month ago as a bunch of malcontents and drug addicts... maybe he was really talking about their fighting style. For further hilarity, NATO and Western media were considering last week whether it would be a good idea to arm and train the rebels with some proper anti tank and anti air shoulder mounted weaponry. This is something I thought they might have done a month ago but the CIA guys that have been on the ground since before this shit started probably reported back that that was about as good an idea as placing an Afghan in the cockpit of a stealth bomber. Again, you gotta love Gadaffi's response when he got wind of this plan. He quickly floated the idea that the rebel 'army' included Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah elements which sent Western media into a shit fit. Funny thing is, it's probably true at least to the point where it's possible to be a card carrying member of an organization invented in the media. As far as Hezbollah goes, what self respecting young Arab doesn't have a serious beef with Israel?

   Gadaffi again must have laughed his ass off.

   Eastern Libya and its capital Benghazi have always been redneck country and the part sophisticates in Tripoli like to look down on while sipping their fancy coffees in upscale cafes. Benghazi is the city where the supporters of the former king that Gaddafi deposed in the '60s got to lay low while watching as Gaddafi funneled the oil wealth out from under their feet. They've been itching for a shot at revenge for decades. It's also home to the Islamists and the wilder desert tribes and proved fervent recruiting ground for volunteers for Iraq and Afghanistan to fight the Yankee imperialists. Those are the rebels best fighters and also the last guys you'd expect NATO to be assisting but such is the complex web of forces that guide geopolitics these days. In truth, oil makes everyone a bitch, loyalties cheap and alliances tend to shift like desert sands all so long as the proles get to fill up their SUVs on the cheap to make that commute from surburbia to their cubicle in Wageslavistan affordable.

   All this does point out though, in case anyone didn't already know, the serious value of professional infantry.  Guys in uniform are a good thing. Some ancient general in antiquity came up with the idea that having all the guys on your team wear the same outfit was a pretty cool idea. And not just to prevent accidental bludgeoning and friendly stabbing but more so to instill an Esprit de Corps amongst the troops. Part of the cost of raising an army has always been the uniform and having a uniform gave the average soldier confidence that his general had enough bank to pay up when the fighting was done. Gadaffi's hold on his army has a similar dimension. With sanctions beginning to take hold Gaddafi has doubled public sector and army pay and increased interest rates to try to coax money out from under mattresses, where millions have gone since fighting started and coax it back to the Libyan central bank.

   In fact, with neither side looking like it'll be able to pull off a decisive military victory, this war seems (as Gaddafi predicted) to be entering the post season and the long war phase. Here, economics comes into play and it's harder to see how Gadaffi can win this phase. He's already burning through his cash stash and one wonders how many dollars he has buried in the desert. The rebels too are running low on cash but they managed to fill a tanker over the weekend that made off with $100 million worth of sweet crude that sure helped rebel coffers. That's probably why Gaddafi wanted Brega and its oil refinery so bad, denying it to the enemy is at least as good as owning it yourself, broken though it is. 

   The problem with the inevitable economic victory for NATO is that it is liable to take time and not look very convincing. Waiting for Gadaffi to run out of money or for sanctions to cause food shortages in Tripoli is liable to create the type of 'humanitarian crisis'  Operation Odyssey Dawn was designed to prevent. That kind of messy victory is going to leave more chimpanzee shit on NATO's doorstep.

   Still, the situation is not by any means good for our villain. A bunch of his cabinet ministers abandoned ship last week which didn't look good for Gadaffi and the morale in his camp. The most high profile defector, former foreign minister Moussa Koussa seems to be trying to play the role of 'honest broker' on the international stage and seems to think a deal can be made. Anything he can do to make himself useful is a good idea because he's facing questioning for the Lockerbie bombing and needs a favorable phone call from the MoD to get the dogs called off.

   One idea that I saw floated was the partition of the country which seems pretty ugly but would probably suit sleazy western oil companies since all the oil fields are in the east and the rebels hold most of them. They've already proved they can play ball and be compliant on the oil front, having filled three tankers over the past month and that's something Western governments need to know. With oil prices hovering around the $110 mark and jittery news in America of $5 a gallon gas by summer, that's the kind of shit that crashed the economy two years ago and makes the corporatocracy shudder. And with the US consumer already broke, pricey oil will cause all kinds of commodity and food price spikes that's going to eat up every disposable dollar in circulation, leaving a whole bunch of iPhones and plastic pumpkins gathering dust on store shelves.

   This is still Gaddafi's best play right now. Keep the uncertainty flowing for as long as possible and see if you  can parlay that into a sweet deal for yourself and the in-laws. Something involving stepping down in favor of a son and getting to keep the money in your offshore bank accounts. Meanwhile, churn out brutal urban warfare in Misurata while conducting hit and run raids in pickup trucks against the rebels who are sure to run like fuck and scream at the sky, demanding the magical appearance of A-10s. Oh wait, the US has scaled down air operations. Guess they'll have to rely on French Mirages or British Tornados, neither aircraft being ideal for loitering over the battlefield providing close air support to idiots who wouldn't know to take advantage of it anyway.

   What a mess.

   One thing is for sure, no matter how this ends, there won't be many Libyans smiling or laughing.

   Not even the 'arch villain' himself.


  1. "Gadaffi brings his tent with him when travelling abroad and pitches it in the gardens of rented multi million dollar mansions while leaving the mansion itself empty"

    Unless he's in italy. Then the multi million dollar mansion is kindly provided by his dear friend the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Who offers him the mansion, 500 young western girls to be "lectured" by Gaddafi on how awesome Islam is and plenty of prostitutes so they can together hold a "bunga bunga" ritual which includes some kind of anal violation orgy...

  2. I want to be Gadaffi when I grow up.

  3. Anon got any links to back that up, its rather intresting and I would like to read up on it for research purposes.

  4. "I always see them firing determinedly off camera but it pisses me off that I never get to see what they are firing at."

    So true. You'd thing some enterprising cameraman would get behind a rebel pickup and show us what they're shooting at. But I suppose, an empty house two clicks away doesn't make for interesting reporting.

  5. Thanks for this analysis of conflict. It's so far the best and most serious military analysis I read.

    Just when you wrote these following sentences, I smiled a bit:

    "Here, economics comes into play and it's harder to see how Gadaffi can win this phase. He's already burning through his cash stash and one wonders how many dollars he has buried in the desert."

    Well, actually we got an idea. Though, he idn't bunker dollars at home, but preferred gold. According to media reports base on IMF data Gaddafi is "sitting on 143 tonnes of gold in Libya", worth 6.4 bln US Dollars:

    Gaddafi sitting on 143 tonnes of gold in Libya: report

    So, that may not last forever, but quite for a while.

  6. they run faster than the shoot.

  7. With Misrata descending into clusterfuck hell and reports that NATO are running out of laser guided munitions, how long before landing ground troops gets put on the table as an option?

    It'll all be up to the Europeans. They abandoned ship in the 90s when they let the US avert Kosovo crisis and that was a war on their own doorstep. Will they step up to the plate to save the 10% of the oil Libya supplies? If you ask me, they've been benefitting from US taxpayer military protection to fund their socialist policies for far too long. Since WWII to be exact.

    It'll be fun to see what they do now when there is a clear and present danger to their economic security. It'll be interesting to see if they have the balls to land troops and take it to Gadaffi. That's what it'll take if they want to be serious.

  8. Nice article. But one question it doesn't answer (and neither has anyone answered yet): who are the rebels? What factions? Their political views? Underlying tribal structures? Where did the initial weapons stash come from? How much army personnel did in fact defect?

    It's no wonder NATO are supportive of the rebels, because it can't get much worse than a Gadaffi and oil is getting expensive, as you noticed quite accurate. But what says this isn't a second mujaheddin-scale of mistake?