Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DTN News - BATTLE FOR LIBYA: Touring The Rubble After A NATO Bombardment - DiManno

Defense News: DTN News - BATTLE FOR LIBYA: Touring The Rubble After A NATO Bombardment - DiManno
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada / TRIPOLI, Libya - June 8, 2011:
The golf buggy is a twisted skeleton of metal.

A once ornate silk rug is shredded to rags.

And all that’s left of the Bedouin tent is its scorched earth footprint.

When Moammar Gadhafi goes desert Arab — his preferred home-away-from-home accommodation — it is to venues such as this man-made oasis in the Libyan countryside where he escapes, putting down stakes, reclining on pillows, sheik-y.

“Our leader likes nature in the wide open spaces,’’ explains a man who gives his name as Mohammed Ali, waving an arm across the smouldering expanse of the encampment.

NATO bombardiers found it, nailed it, obliterated it.

Gadhafi, on the hideaway lam and in the weeds, was elsewhere, Ali hastily assures.

Precision-guided missile strikes rather than heavy munitions clearly did the damage Wednesday night, and quite surgically.

That golf cart — the Libyan strongman is fond of riding around in Popemobile-style wheels — has landed right-side up but charred almost beyond recognition. The tent has been reduced to scraps. A long tractor-trailer is among at least three blackened vehicles utterly destroyed.

A can of olives, a pair of boxer shorts, a still steaming soldier’s duffel bag: The detritus of a pastoral encampment blasted to smithereens, with a camel herd now foraging through the wreckage.

This site in Hadba Region, on the outskirts of the capital, was described to foreign journalists as a game reserve. Apart from the aforementioned camels, only some scrawny sheep were evident.

More intriguing were the high-tech security cameras still affixed to a perimeter fence, the smashed computer innards strewn about, and a windsock stiffening in the breeze just over the verge — suggestive of an airfield for small fixed wing planes or helicopters beyond, an area reporters were not permitted to explore.

“Yes, planes land here,’’ Ali, who described himself as the reserve supervisor, concedes. “Col. Gadhafi uses this place to greet his foreign visitors.’’

Then Ali promptly takes that tiny factoid back, claiming he’s never seen a plane or helicopter hereabouts. Nor can he remember the last time Gadhafi used these rural facilities. In the propaganda trompe l’oeil that is Libya, it gets hard keeping one’s stories straight.

“That sock, it is just to see the wind.’’

Yes, that’s why it’s called a windsock.

Given the detail evidence on the ground, the military bivouacs nearby and the aerial attack aimed at it, this location likely served another purpose than game reserve ecology for Gadhafi’s regime. With loyalist troop movement largely stagnant, NATO forces have been focusing intensified air assaults on reconnaissance-identified intelligence centres and command-and-control nodes.

On the day after the most furious assault yet in the 11-week NATO campaign against Libya — 66 sorties on Tuesday that took out a half-dozen command-and-control centres, a radar system and a vehicle storage facility — Tripoli was relatively quiet but for some early morning bombs dropped in the distance. Heavy bombardments resumed after nightfall.

With more than 10,000 sorties launched since the NATO offensive began in March, commanders at Naples HQ are confident they’ve extensively degraded Gadhafi’s war-making capacity, though clearly not running out of targets yet, British Apaches and French Tigre helicopters recently added to the coalition arsenal. But Gadhafi — who they’re purportedly not trying to kill — remains as defiantly entrenched as ever, if steadily more isolated and relentlessly stalked by overwhelming NATO firepower.

Journalists escorted to the Hadba location were told the Libyan leader is unharmed, safely secreted and, apparently, plotting maniacally to hold the centre of his collapsing regime together.

Developments on the ground, however, indicate multiple front lines more aggressively challenging Gadhafi’s hold over his besieged country.

On the other side, rebel fighters seem to have gained an increasing technical competence with their inferior weapons and some hard-earned strategic wisdom. Reports from the eastern end of the country have anti-Gadhafi forces preparing for another assault on the crucial oil-town of Brega while rebels in the Western Mountains have seized several Gadhafite villages in what seems a pincer movement towards Tripoli. That front is now less than 100 kilometres from the capital.

More forceful NATO bombing is what the opposition had been demanding and that’s what they’ve been getting in the past week, after alliance officials gave notice they would expand the scope and intensity of the air campaign. While some generals have hinted that only foreign boots on the ground can break the prolonged stalemate, UN Security Council Resolution 1973 specifically forbids deploying troops alongside the rebels because that would mean taking sides in a civil war — even though, essentially, that’s what NATO, at the UN’s behest, has done.

And it will continue doing so for at least the next 90 days. NATO defence ministers meeting Wednesday in Brussels formally committed to extending military operations for that period. Yet the clock is ticking on both sides, with Norway intending to scale down its air strike role by June 24 and Sweden reducing the number of fighter jets contributed to the campaign, switching soon from patrolling the no-fly zone to reconnaissance sorties.

Only eight of the NATO countries — including Canada — plus the United Arab Emirates have provided jets and pilots for the bombing assignments. Fatigue must surely be setting in for the aviators.

A week ago, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he hoped the Libyan mission would be completed by the end of September — meaning Gadhafi would cede, exit, and then reconstruction of a severely damaged nation could begin.

But NATO has a history of missing deadlines.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources
By Rosie DiManno - The Star Toronto
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News



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