Car Wars: Roadmaps to Libya's Ground Conflict

This article is a bit of a solicitation for much more Western intervention on the ground, but it does give some good insight into history and military tactics.

Car wars: Roadmaps to Libya's ground conflict
Almost exactly one hundred years ago on November 1, 1911, air war was invented in the Italian invasion of Libya when army pilot Lt Giulio Gavotti dropped four grenades on Ottoman positions in the oasis of 'Ain Zara just outside Tripoli.

In the century since, the air campaign has become the spectacular centrepiece of western warfare, but the failure of NATO's intervention to tip the balance against Gaddafi is a reminder that it's hard to win a war from 10,000 feet.

The horrifying siege of Misurata, whose only relief comes from the sea, not the air, and the back and forth movement on the road that links Benghazi to Sirte by way of Ajdabia, Brega and Ras Lanuf suggest that this war will be played out on the ground.

In the last weeks the alliance between NATO and the Libyan rebels has begun to fray. NATO airstrikes decimated a convoy of rebel tanks and a bus full of fighters between Brega and Ajdabiya on April 7, and NATO refused to apologise. The rebels have found that close air support without sufficient ground resources is not the magic bullet that many supporters of intervention imagined.

With only few paramilitary intelligence officers on the ground in Libya, tactical attacks on Gaddafi's mobile forces are severely limited and isolated in their scope.

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