Apr 06 2011

Sand Trap

As I’ve explained before I am not now nor have I ever been a member of any military service, my closest encounters being an notably unsuccessful stint in the Boy Scouts and a hazy night with two Navy recruiters.  But I am an avid war gamer (or as the more pacifistic among us prefer to be called- ‘gamer’) and am a particular fan of Larry Bond’s Harpoon.

Now in the game it’s easy to load up your nuclear powered supercarrier task force with all the planes it will carry (more than most country’s entire airforce) and with your Alderan slagging Deathstar power roll over your opposition as if they hardly even exist, but in fact that’s not how they’re deployed.  Most real life groups only have a fraction of their nominal order of battle on station and are ramped up in response to perceived threats and changes in mission.  Not only that, but combat and training stress the equipment and produce maintenance failures which is probably the reason we lost that F-15E over Benghazi.

Gamers and Washington Warmongers have a tendency to ignore these inconvenient truths which is why it’s interesting and instructive to read articles like this-

Nato lacking strike aircraft for Libya campaign

US withdrawal of attack planes puts pressure on European countries, especially France, to offer more strike capability

Ian Traynor in Brussels and Richard Norton-Taylor, guardian.co.uk

Tuesday 5 April 2011 16.49 BST

Nato is running short of attack aircraft for its bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi only days after taking command of the Libyan mission from a coalition led by the US, France and Britain.

Nato officials insisted the pace of the air operations was being maintained. But it has emerged that the US and the French, who have been the two biggest military players until now, are retaining national control over substantial military forces in the Mediterranean and refusing to submit them to Nato authority.

The French have the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, two escorting frigates and 16 fighter aircraft, none of which are under the Nato command and control which was announced last Thursday.

Until last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy was the loudest opponent of handing over the operations to Nato control. Nonetheless, the French are not only taking part in the Nato campaign, but are the biggest non-US contributors, with 33 aircraft, double Britain’s 17. Not all of these are strike aircraft.

Until Monday, the Americans had performed most of the attacks on ground targets, with the French executing around a quarter and the British around a 10th. Given the US retreat, Nato is seeking to fill the gap, but only the British have pledged more.

(h/t Chris in Paris @ Americablog)

And this-

Libyan Rebels Demanding More NATO, US Support

By: David Dayen Wednesday April 6, 2011 6:25 am

The Libyan opposition, feeling entitled to direct military operations despite assurances that the mission would not be used in that fashion, is angrily demanding more and better airstrikes on Gadhafi’s troops.

This is the danger of this kind of intervention. The opposition side of the civil war now relies on outside help and is demanding more and more of it. NATO actually did undertake airstrikes in the area of Brega yesterday, but the rebels still retreated under rocket fire. It won’t be too long before they say that NATO and the US must give them weapons, or provide trainers. Or maybe they’ll just want the West to enforce a partition for a binational state. Or maybe they will want special forces, and then, just ground troops. And blood will be on the hands of the international community if they hesitate.

“So what should I think about [the war in Libya]? If it had been my call, I wouldn’t have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I’d literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he’s smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.”

Kevin Drum, Friday, in Mother Jones

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