U.S. Supports Equipping and Training Libyan Troops

John Kerry announced today the U.S. supports training and equipping the military of the newly minted Libyan "unity" government so it can better fight ISIS.

Speaking in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States and other major nations would back the Libyan government's attempt to win an exemption from a United Nations arms embargo.

Kerry said it was "imperative" for the international community to support the 6-week-old government in Tripoli, which he called "the only legitimate one in Libya and which must now start to work.”

The State Department's press release is here. The new Libyan government is 6 weeks old and arrived in Libya by boat from Tunisia. [More...]

Are we going to train child soldiers? Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj welcomed the announcement saying:

"We’re not talking about international intervention," he said. "We’re talking about international assistance and training, equipping our troops and training our youth."

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, had this to say:

[Earnest] said the decision to arm the new government marked "the beginning of a process, not the end of it."

The Pentagon spokesman's comment is even more disheartening:

The Pentagon recently sent special operations teams to Libya to gather intelligence and find potential partners to fight the militants, Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman, said Monday.

“This small presence of U.S. forces has been trying to identify players on the ground and trying to find out exactly what their motives are,” Cook said. “And that's to give us a better picture of what's happening there, because we don't have a great picture.”

Sounds like a recipe for disaster. The groups in Libya are fighting each other and not aligned in the fight against ISIS. The Guardian's reporter in Libya says the challenge will be keeping U.S. arms from being used in Libyan civil wars instead of the fight against ISIS. This article makes the same point -- "The Libyan unity government not yet in a position to co-ordinate effective military response to Islamic State."

A narrow focus on military intervention, such as the loosening of the UN arms embargo proposed by anonymous US government officials cited by AFP on 13 May 2016, would probably serve to inject renewed energy into Libya's civil war rather than galvanise its combatants into unified action against the Islamic State. In this context, extensive international diplomatic engagement will be required to incentivise Libya's factions to unite behind the GNA and give it the legitimacy to address the broader issues fuelling instability and insecurity that allow the Islamic State and groups with a similar ideology to thrive.

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  • Display: Sort:
    The US has had 2 groups of up to 25 (none / 0) (#1)
    by Green26 on Mon May 16, 2016 at 07:15:24 PM EST
    special ops troops in Libya since last 2015, according to an WaPost article last week. At posts in east and west Libya, including near Benghazi. I think the article said the troops were acting as eyes and ears on the ground and trying to identify friendly groups, or something like that. ISIS developed some strength in Libya in 2015.

    2 groups of 25? (none / 0) (#2)
    by linea on Mon May 16, 2016 at 07:36:47 PM EST
    when that navy seal was killed in iraq a few weeks ago, the report stated that a helicopter medical evacuation team pulled him out.  makes me wonder exacty how many helicopter pilots and aircrew and navy corpsmen there are on site for every group of 25.

    anyhoo, this sounds like more that Chalabe nonsense.  remember that guy living like a prince in the uk on our dollar as the "govt in exile" or some such nonsense?   bush sent him to iraq to be installed as the new "boss man" but the iraqis were having none of that.  exactly when did democrats buy into this neocon nonsense?


    Noticed my typo - "late" (none / 0) (#3)
    by Green26 on Mon May 16, 2016 at 07:41:30 PM EST
    not "last" 2015

    Am I missing something? (none / 0) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 16, 2016 at 09:21:12 PM EST
    "This small presence of U.S. forces has been trying to identify players on the ground and trying to find out exactly what their motives are," Cook said. "And that's to give us a better picture of what's happening there, because don't have a great picture."

    1911.... "We came, we saw, he (Gaddafi) died,"

    four years later,

    1916....NOW we want to know "what's happening there?"

    I don't think we ever completely left (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 18, 2016 at 11:57:48 AM EST
    Gaddafi had so many dangerous arms. That's the part of "Benghazi" that's classified. Why did we have CIA teams of ex-SEALs all over the place? Why was our ambassador willing to take the risks he did take? Remember how shocked the existing Libyan government was when we began extracting people who were on the ground and they started counting heads on the tarmac? It's just me, but I don't think we ever completely left. We couldn't afford to.