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June 2, 2011
The people next doorBy Greyhawk
"It's like ordering room service."
"Room service" in Libya probably falls short of what most Westerners expect. Indeed, the Washington Post story that includes that quote describes a Libyan rebel command post that sounds like it wouldn't rate well in Michelin's: "no television screens beaming satellite images, no detailed maps with Global Positioning System coordinates. They don't even have a direct phone line to their NATO counterparts."
It's so bad that when he wants to phone for "room service," the commander has to walk down a hall.
So when a rebel officer on the front line called in one recent morning in need of help, Brig. Gen. Abdulsalam al-Hasi had little choice. He walked down the corridor and asked the American and European advisers in his command center to request a NATO airstrike -- and then prayed for quick action.The American and European advisers aren't NATO, we are assured.
"For us, it's all about not wanting to contravene or jeopardize the U.N. mandate that we're following," said a NATO official in the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, speaking under NATO ground rules that he not be named. The U.N. resolution authorizing military action in Libya speaks only of protecting civilians from attacks by Gaddafi's forces, he said.
"We have no contact with anyone except those people that are next door," Hasi said.
"We cannot be [the rebels'] air power," the official said. "This was a popular public uprising, and it has to unfold that way, in a natural way. It's not for us to do any more in terms of support."More:
I trust readers here will see the picture well painted above. I'm not sure who exactly is supposed to be deceived by the chatter surrounding the Libya op - but I suppose the answer is the same as it is in any con game: people who want to be deceived.
In this case they are legion - but what really makes the whole thing work is the target. Muammar Qaddafi is the prototype real life comic book villain. (Which in no way diminishes the fact that he's a villain, it just makes it easier to shoot missiles at him.) There are others in the world, but unlike say, Kim Jong-il (to name but one) this one leads a nation with oil reserves.
That the chatter ("Who us? Why, we're just protecting civilians...") has moved into the realm of the absurd is a result of deeply flawed assumptions that the mission (eliminate Qaddafi) would take "days not weeks." The script called for the fall of Qaddafi in less time than it took to topple the government of Saddam Hussein, an event to be coincident with the launch of President Obama's re-election campaign (meaning fundraising efforts) and followed in short order by the killing of Osama bin Laden. (That last a truly fine thing, but it's interesting to realize now that vis a vis Libya planning/decision making the Osama kill was a rabbit ready to be pulled from a hat, eh?) Perhaps from a "national security" perspective two out of three ain't bad.
And the fall of Qaddafi will come, of that there can be little doubt.
NATO announced Wednesday that it was extending its mission in Libya by 90 days...
But even little doubt helps explain the ongoing effort to ensure "plausible" deniability - there may come a day when certain someones will be shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover what the people next door have been up to all this time.
Afterthought: I suppose this can be considered a room service menu for Operation Unified Protector. (Click here for larger.)
Posted by Greyhawk / June 2, 2011 11:18 AM | 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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