Tango Seven-Six says LET IT BURN. Well, we might not have many other alternatives at hand, even if Our President was inclined to speak loudly and wield the big stick on
his fellow African Muslim “Colonel” Khaddafy. I was wondering when someone was going to say, “Hey– where’s the Navy and Marine Corps?” (It’s not like we ain’t been to Tripoli before, all we’d need is new maps.)
Well, someone has. And it is very revealing.
Remember when naval forces could conduct non-combat evacuation operations [NEO] of American civilians in trouble? I do too, which is why I am very curious why after many weeks of governments falling on the North African coastline the US Navy doesn’t have any ships in the region capable of making it happen. … So who is responsible for making sure the Navy is prepared for these type of operations when unrest is now into its seventh week in the region? Admiral Stavridis, Admiral Locklear, Vice Admiral Harris, or Rear Admiral Wary? Did any of these folks request a ship and get denied?
I believe also that the embarked Marines that would normally be serving as Landing Force 6th Fleet are in Afghanistan. Yes, OEF is a shooting war, but there’s a reason why we strive to maintain expeditionary forces in the forward regions– to handle contingencies. Like when nations undergo self-immolation and American citizens might need to be evacuated under non-permissive conditions. Yeah, like that.
Yet more interesting in that post is the comment about the Italian Navy task force being underway. Go ahead and laugh, get it out of your system, but here’s the bottom line– whatever you think of their military prowess they do have a fairly significant naval capability. Libya is a short sail from Italian ports and it would not be out of character for them to assert themselves. For one they certainly have citizens on the ground; also they probably have considerable commercial interests and a strong desire to wield influence in a former colonial possession. Sounds strange? Maybe but maybe not.
There are certain military capabilities that we don’t need often, but when we do, we need them now. The NEO is one of them. We used to practice it assiduously, as anyone who ever did an old MEU-SOC workup can testify. It’s a good thing the ferry with our folks made it out of port and over to Malta and that its difficulties were only weather-related. Luck’s a great thing, isn’t it? But it’s no foundation for a strategy. Next time we might need gray ships and black rifles, under the Stars and Stripes.