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British Military Officers Going To Libya To ‘Advise’ Rebels

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
William looks confused as the PR men in his headphones give him the words to explain that British military officers are going to Libya but not doing much that involves soldiering.

British military officers are heading to Libya to be advisors to the rebel forces fighting against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s army, the UK government has announced.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the group of ten officers would be deployed in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi. They will be joined there by a similar number of French officers.

The official line is that they are going to give advice on logistics and intelligence training. This feels like a bit of a throwback to the cold war when military ‘advisors’ from both sides were actively involved in directing combat operations in third world conflicts.

So far the rebel forces have shown a degree of tactical naivety which Gaddafi’s commanders have easily exploited. The French and British governments will be looking for quick results to force a decisive victory in what has become a stalemate.

The officers will be doing far more advising than just logistics and intelligence. Battlefield strategy and tactics will be the first order of the day. Logistics and intelligence are just two components of that.

But to a skeptical public, the PR spin of logistics and intelligence sounds like ‘hands off’ and not directly involved in anything nasty.

Mr Hague of course is quick to point out that sending the officers to play cards in Benghazi was totally compatible with the United Nations resolution on Libya, which ruled out foreign military ground action.

He stressed that the “officers would not be involved in any fighting and the move was needed to help protect civilians”.

“These additional personnel will enable the UK to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the NTC [opposition National Transitional Council] on how to better protect civilians.”

Ok so they are ‘advising’ the rebels on how to better protect civilians now. What happened to ‘logistics’ and ‘intelligence’ training?

Maybe it is time for William to stop talking. At this rate he is going to have the British officers teaching children how to knit.

But no William is on a roll now, saying the “deployment does not mean boots on the ground. The British military officers will not be in uniform and will not join the battle.”

“they’ll be providing non-lethal assistance” and will only be carrying sidearms.

Of course the satellite phone with the speed-dial to the aircraft carriers off-shore is only for social calls.

I would rather the British government stopped the pretence and was just honest about the situation and say, ‘this thing has gone on a lot longer than we are comfortable with politically. We are going to supply low-key military assistance to turn the rebels into a more effective fighting force and bring this conflict to an end.

See William? It is not that hard is it? A little honesty uses a lot less words than PR spin.

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