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April 19, 2011
The armed forces, numbering no more than 1,000, would be deployed to secure the delivery of aid supplies, would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their humanitarian wards were threatened. "It would be to secure sea and land corridors inside the country," said an EU official.Please note those are European Union troops - not NATO. Also, while the plan has been under construction for quite some time, it won't be executed without UN authorization.
A spokesman for the Misurata City Council appealed for NATO to send ground troops to secure the port that is the besieged city's only remaining humanitarian lifeline.
That quote actually appears in last week's story about running out of smart bombs.
Hopefully someone will explain to those folks in the besieged city the difference between the EU and NATO. For American readers: the US is not part of the EU, thus wouldn't be under any compulsion to contribute ground troops to assist, as would be the case if this were a NATO mission involving our NATO allies. Another story from last week:
So, maybe the mission already has UN authorization?
Also last week, as rebel forces in the east crumbled under the onslaught of Qaddafi's troops and many of the remaining civilians fled Ajdibiya for Benghazi, western media shifted their correspondents to Misrata in time to capture dramatic photos of crying babies and file reports on Qaddafi's use of cluster bombs against civilians there.
Qaddafi's forces would likely have taken Misrata earlier in the conflict, but NATO airstrikes there have at least delayed that outcome. While Qaddafi's troops are experiencing slow progress from Brega to Ajdibiya in the east - where rebel troops are described as "in disarray" - it's unlikely he (or anyone, including citizens of Misrata) would believe the description of NATO troops between that front and Tripoli as "humanitarian forces." The potential for confusion, tragic accidents, misunderstandings, or overt acts of war will obviously be high. All sides will need to exercise extreme caution to avoid escalation.
Meanwhile, a humanitarian sealift mission has been under way in Misrata, thus far without incident, and "The UN agency that coordinates humanitarian aid said Friday that it saw no need for military support for relief missions in Libya."
"A Red Cross ship carrying vital medical supplies docked in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata" on April 3rd. Other ships are arriving with the mission of evacuating migrants from the city. (Warning: New York Times link, visits are rationed.)
Western reporters were also fortunate to reach the town immediately before the ship's dramatic arrival. More:
"Our staff on board the boat report that while we were boarding the migrants, the shelling and the fighting subsided for a bit and there was this almost eerie silence while they would kind of wait until we had got the people on board and that we would leave," said Pandya.As the ship departed last weekend some passengers reported that Qaddafi's troops weren't the only threat they'd faced:
Increasingly dramatic stories may come from evacuees who are (for now) safe in Banghazi:
Similar reports of atrocities from fleeing civilians preceded UN approval of airstrikes (or "all necessary measures") on Qaddafi's military last month.
IOM says there are 100 Libyans among those rescued, 23 of whom are war-wounded, including a child shot in the face and an amputee.More on the IOM here and here. However, "...the chartered vessel can only carry 800 people at a time and current funds only cover the cost of two trips, the aid agency said."
The IOM has said it hoped the ship would be able to leave Benghazi for Misrata in order to carry out a second evacuation, but after that it would run out of funding. Yet the total needed, $5 million, is not huge, according to the Geneva-based agency....And (as expected) update:
The Libyan government on Tuesday firmly rebuffed a proposal from the European Union, saying it would fight any foreign troops that landed on its soil, even if they were supposedly there to escort humanitarian aid convoys.
Also, "Kaim reiterated Gaddafi's claims that the al-Qaeda terrorist network is behind the Libyan rebellion." - a claim with popular appeal to many Americans.
"Separately, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his country was sending a team of military advisers to Libya to help organize the ragtag opposition forces, joining British diplomats already working with rebel leaders in Benghazi, their stronghold in eastern Libya." A lengthy AP report here, and a BBC report here:
Underlining added, italics in original.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 19, 2011 12:51 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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