Welcome to the Blog, and French aid to Libya…

This blog’s main purpose will be to discuss topics in the realm of modern warfare, security, and counterinsurgency as well as to cover any ancillary goings-on. Book and film reviews, pictures from historical sites and museums, etc., will all be par for the course.

For the first column, I thought I would cover the introduction of French military aid to Libya in the last few days in the ongoing civil war between Muammar Gaddafi and the National Transitional Council.

According to BBC World Service, the Armee de l’Air began running transport missions over Libya about a week ago to deliver over 40 tons of weapons to tribesmen fighting south of Tripoli on what it currently the only front that isn’t in stalemate. Just recently that front has also been helped along by the recovery of a massive arms cache, as reported by Al Jazeera. The rebels recovered recoilless rifles, surface-to-air missiles (most likely SA-14 Gremlins) and at least two T-55 tanks in running order.

The exact makup of the cache is unknown, but a few things can be ascertained: if SAMs from the cache are used, then they are most likely SA-14s, as no SA-7s have been seen in either Libyan arsenal so far. This lends credence to the theory that most equipment used by Qaddafi’s forces dates from the late-70s/early-80s and is noteworthy only in it’s sheer numbers.

But what of the French aid? What could entail? History tells us that there are certain French weapons that have worked well in counterinsurgency scenarios: according to The Soviet-Afghan War by the Soviet General Staff (and published by the U of Kansas), Milan anti-tank missiles and Swedish Oerlikon AA guns were both used to great effect in the hands of the mujaheddin in Afghanistan.

We know that the Milan is capable of penetrating the armour of almost all of the tanks in the Libyan inventory: the only tanks that have yet to be concretely tested against it are the T-80s, most of which are in use on the Eastern Front against the Benghazi-based rebels and as such would be unlikely to face any French-supplied weapons.  In any case, we can surmise that if the Milan was to face a T-80 in combat, if would still turn out the victor: in the Russo-Georgian War, Russian T-80s were penetrated using Soviet-era AT-11 Sniper anti-tank missiles which have been shown to have 80 percent of the penetrating capacity of the Milan.

But is there anything else they could’ve parachuted to the rebels? 40 tons is a lot of weight, and surely anti-tank rockets don’t account for all. Small arms are almost certainly not part of these shipments: the rebels are in control of more than enough small arms, and there is no need to give more to them and increase a glut. Nightvision gear is something: increasing the overall tempo of operations the rebels can undertake is a good way to bring the war to a swifter conclusion, and the French command could understand that.

Air-portable artillery is yet another: the Italian Oto Melari 105mm gun was designed to be portable in packs, and could provide a large punch for rebel offensives that they are otherwise lacking. However the possibility of airdropping a gun that has to be put together on the ground by untrained people unfamiliar with the gun’s workings is probably minimal.

So we have (1) anti tank rockets, (2) nightvision gear. What else?

That is a good question, and one I hope we’ll be able to find out when the war is over.


11 Responses to “Welcome to the Blog, and French aid to Libya…”

  1. Theodoric Says:

    While the media are extremely vague and imprecise as to the exact nature of the dropped weapons, as usual, the French newspaper Le Figaro claims the French have dropped “lance-roquettes, fusils d’assaut, mitrailleuses et surtout missiles antichars Milan.” Or, in English, rocket-launchers (I think they mean Soviet-style RPGs), assault rifles, machine guns and Milan anti-tank missiles. http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2011/06/28/01003-20110628ARTFIG00704-la-france-a-parachute-des-armes-aux-rebelles-libyens.php

    While I’d personally say that, with the tendency for Libyan soldiers to fire with abandon, ammunition would be more useful.
    Of course, this all begs the question what type of weapons were dropped. Since the French do not have that many weapons in their arsenal that use the same types of ammunition as the weapons commonly used in Libya (Only the Famas and the few F2000s in Libya have calibre commonality, IIRC), I can only assume that they bought the stuff from French-friendly African countries; France’s foreign policy has been rather strong in this regard for a while now.

    Granted, of course, that this isn’t all just media hogwash. Al Jazeera even claims that a ‘reliable’ source has reported that armoured cars have been dropped, which I find rather fanciful.

  2. Life In Black Says:

    Looks good MacCaulay!

  3. Darn, i wanted to be the first to comment. 😛

    In anycase, a part of me thinks it might be likely that uniforms and camouflage could have been included in any French care package. To get the Libyan rebels to start looking like a respectable, organized military force rather than well… a bunch of ragtag rebels you know?

    Another part of me says thats probably unlikely, since uniforms will make it even harder to tell friend and enemy apart, and something as simple and logistical like that isnt too cool.

    Plus everyone’s too used to the hipster look by now i bet. ^^

  4. The Afghan National Army isn’t even given Night Vision equipment because it gets passed along to the Taliban. No-one in their right mind is going to hand NVGs over to a completely uncontrolled rebel movement who’s future loyalties are entirely in doubt.

    • Cryptic Says:

      Good point. As a side note, the rebellion is strongest in east Libya (also the noticably more conservatively religous part of the country).

      Libyan population centers are widely seperated and it is possible that east Libya could become a semi autonomous region and a haven for fundamentalists, especially Egyptian ones.
      One thing to watch for would be any Jihadi volunteers filttering into east Libya.

      Somehow, I think this si going to get more complicated than Star wars syel “The Good guys verse the Forces of Evil”

  5. King of Malta Says:

    What about Non-Combat supplies like food, medicine, and etc etc?

  6. Well the banning sucks, the campaign to get you back in has begun.

    • Life In Black Says:

      Count me in on the campaign, Cook. Just found out Mac. I hope everything works out, and you’ll be unbanned.

    • What post was it that banned me? I don’t get it. I did two posts in PoliChat the whole time I was back.

      • Life In Black Says:

        The one where you mentioned the protesters being a bunch of hippies and not knowing real work. Apparently Ian considered that trolling.

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