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The results of the use of French armed forces in Libya: "we will get involved in the fight, but we'll see...
Material posted: Grinyaev SergeyPublication date: 29-02-2012

Lately in the foreign specialized press, there are more materials with the analysis of the combat use of the armed forces of the Western powers in the aggression against Libya[1],[2]. In the majority of published articles from foreign military analysts contain a very unflattering assessment of the efficiency shown by the troops of the Western armies. The General conclusion is that, despite a significant breakthrough in the creation of new samples of armament and military equipment in the Western armies (except the US army) there was no holistic understanding of the techniques and methods of its effective use.

The Libyan campaign clearly demonstrated the loss of ability to strategic military-political planning. As a result of the use of military force during the campaign was implemented without clearly defined political objectives.

In particular, according to Western military analysts, the application by France of military force in Libya was based on faulty strategy, namely the fuzzy objectives of the campaign that have hampered the effective use of available limited funds. As a result of the planned significant long-term positive effects on the economy and the political situation in the region and the world as a whole were neutralized by the negative of the excessive financial cost of the campaign, the growth of social discontent of European peoples from the disproportionate use of force and the deterioration of the General political situation existing European administrations.

Initial plans for the use of military force proceeded from the estimates, according to which the Libyan campaign should have ended fast enough. And as long as this idea prevailed in the minds of military strategists, it was believed that only the removal of Gaddafi is capable of changing the situation in Libya. However, the demonstrated resilience of the Libyan leadership has sown doubts among European political elites. The mere appearance of such fermentations is the result of the lack of a clear military-political planning, and a mismatch of objectives and involved in achieving them resources. According to some sources in the Western press, while in March 2011, 66% of the population of France were for military intervention, already by July, 76% strongly agreed that war was the only way to get Qaddafi to leave power[3].

These statistics lead experts to the conclusion that in recent years Western society refuses to acknowledge military force as an effective instrument of achieving political goals, which in itself is a very important consequence of the Libyan campaign.

The issue of the perception of military power in European society in the Libyan campaign faced one is the problem of organizing and conducting the war coalition. A key principle of the coalition war – the obligatory presence of points of contact and General political aims with allies. When you consider that the coalition war is the main method of warfare by Western armies since the Second world war, the lack of a unified view of the progress and outcome of the campaign in Libya among the allies initially did not promise anything good, and showed further development.

Efficient management of the coalition in war conditions, when France and Britain begin to compete for leadership in relation to comparable countries, such as Spain or Italy, it was impossible. The attempts have led to contradictory behavior when, for example, unilaterally by Italy was declared a ceasefire on 21 June 2011. This option was totally unacceptable to NATO.

No doubt that domestic politics and diplomatic factors have not allowed the French political leadership to define the goal of the campaign prior to its start is the most significant "flaw" in strategic military planning. Of course, the desire of Nicolas Sarkozy to claim victory in Bastille Day has had a devastating impact on the already inadequate military control.

However, the Libyan campaign is a quite expected result of the "independence" of the European armed forces. European army since its formation a new look at the composition of NATO assumed that they will be exclusively the Executive elements of the U.S.-led operation. However, this role contradicts what is in Libya, where the U.S. clearly chose not to take any political action and not to take on a leadership role. This behavior of "bare" left Europeans not only as strategic planners, and executors of their plans.

Wake-up call was painful. Long recognized gaps in European capabilities in areas such as intelligence and reconnaissance, close air support, strategic refueling aircraft were again demonstrated in Libya.

Currently the American forces are performing more than two thirds of all operations for refuelling in the air and 80% of the missions for exploration and reconnaissance. This clearly suggests that any more or less serious operation could not be performed without the blessings of the States.

Of course, French troops showed a quite acceptable level actions at the tactical level. In particular, the results of the Libyan campaign, some military analysts believe that the fighter-bombers Rafale showed its superiority over the rival Eurofighter[4]. Also effective were the actions class frigates Forbin in the decision of tasks of air defense, as well as management and coordination of the operations air force. Well were the possibilities of amphibious assault ships of the Mistral class as battle platforms to attack helicopters. By overall rating in the last few weeks of the campaign the French contribution to the fighting reached 25% in air missions and up to 35% of the total number of attacks.

However, despite the good performance demonstrated by Rafale, at the end of the campaign has affected one of the most serious technical problems – fatigue technology. Because of limited numbers of aircraft in combat units of the French air force, the available samples were exploited to the limit. The aircraft Rafale, reportedly had logged more than 140 hours per month. The result is the need for serious rehabilitation works and extension of life. The only French aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle", was at sea for 220 days for all nine months. In one of public statements by the commander of the French Navy, it was noted that excessive use of the vehicle led to increased wear of mechanisms, and it will be available in 2012, much longer than was previously scheduled. Thus, what was done in Libya, is the maximum voltage of forces, which entailed a long recovery period. This is why today France is almost unheard of in the Syrian (and Iranian) the question "Imperial guard" is still recuperating.

Against this background financial implications the financial crisis was very significant for the French budget - expenses estimated at about one million euros a day and 87 million euros during the first three months. And that's not including the cost of restoring the combat capability of air force and Navy.

The main conclusion after evaluating the effectiveness of French forces in Libya, is that the French forces have demonstrated a good effectiveness at the tactical level, but the complete lack of strategic thinking in defining policy objectives and in planning the application of corresponding forces and means. It is, however, fully consistent favorite saying of Marshal of Napoleon: "First we will get involved in the fight, but we'll see... ".



[1] http://www.infinityjournal.com/article/29/France_in_Libya_A_Strategic_Perspective_on_Opration_Harmattan?message=Welcome%20back.%20You%20have%20successfully%20logged%20in.

[2] http://www.csef.ru/studies/defence/projects/military_strategy_revew/articles/2053/

[3] http://www.lexpress.fr/actualites/1/politique/deux-tiers-des-francais-favorables-a-l-intervention-militaire-en-libye_978828.html

[4] http://www.infinityjournal.com/article/29/France_in_Libya_A_Strategic_Perspective_on_Opration_Harmattan?message=Welcome%20back.%20You%20have%20successfully%20logged%20in.

Tags: war , Europe , NATO , Libya


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