Libya: European navies update, and links

Information Dissemination is worried that the norsouthern shore of the Mediterranean is now “ungoverned territory”. This is surely odd – Egypt and Tunisia have entirely functional governments. Surely it’s Libya that’s gone anarchic? It does tell you something about the rules-of-the-road some people have internalised. If it’s not our dictator it doesn’t count as government, and the answer is a US carrier group.

But it’s not as if the Europeans weren’t active, even though there is hardly a foreign secretary on the continent who isn’t dripping with egg on their faces. NATO’s headquarters in Naples, the former AFSOUTH, is the coordinating authority for Operation Atalanta, but it is also responsible for the NATO Response Force, a sizeable fleet led by a Spanish admiral. An impressive European naval force is already in the area, including two of Italy’s San Giorgio-class assault ships, with the French Mistral due to pass close by on her way to the Indian Ocean – you wouldn’t bet on her making the voyage as planned. Two of Spain’s powerful Galicia-class LPDs are with the NRF and may join at any time.

The danger, of course, is what Adam Elkus describes as the temptation of “discrete military operations”, often prompted by moral shame. (There’s plenty of that to go around.) We already seem to be seeing the effects of Clausewitz’s notion of friction
the Dutch Lynx crew and, if rumours are accurate, an SAS patrol, have got into trouble, although the problem for the British seems to be diplomatic rather than anything else. It does, however, point out why these operations shouldn’t be lightly undertaken, no matter how long you’ve been planning.

Meanwhile, in order to help keep things in perspective, Libya was reported to be on the brink of civil war over how to execute Gaddafi.

6 thoughts on “Libya: European navies update, and links

  1. The german military also flew some people out (a lot more than 2) but somehow they actually managed without being taken.

  2. “Northern shore”?
    That’s actually the southern shore of the Mediterranean!

  3. Pingback: Gaddafi murders continue in Libya, Bastille Day in Egypt | Erkan's Field Diary

  4. If you are not concerned about several thousand nautical miles of ungoverned shoreline, you might want to reconsider.

    Lack of littoral governance and security drives most of the problems in Africa. When institutions do not work properly, the breakdowns across the system gets very ugly.

    Drugs, human trafficking, weapons proliferation, piracy, and other criminal activity contributes a great deal to the suffering in Africa.

    So yeah, I see a big problem when Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya all having difficulty in governance.

    When I wrote that piece on February 21, there were 3 naval vessels in the entire Med not part of the big exercise off Italy. Both Egypt and Tunisia had ceased naval operations due to lack of fuel and funding, and the Libyan Navy was shelling civilians.

    I also note that the answer since Feb 21 has been offshore support by NATO.

    If you are going to spin what others say, at least try to do it well.

  5. With the exception of Libya, none of those countries were ever “ungoverned” for more than a night, though. The super-Somalia scenario was already moot.

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