Reflections on the Libyan Operation


10/10/11 by Robbin Laird

This week we are posting some new and highlighting some earlier postings on the Libyan operation.  The operation and its impacts are hardly over.  Lessons learned would be premature.  But insights gleaned from the operations so far as well threats spinning out of the Libyan events can be looked at and initial reflections proffered.

The lead article this week is an interview with the recently retired French Air Operations Chief, Lt. General (retired) Desclaux, who provided significant insight into the approach of the French forces to the operation.  His insights were reinforced in other conversations which I had in Paris, and included perspectives provided by the first commander of the Charles de Gaulle and now the naval aviation advisor to the head of Dassault Aviation, Vice Admiral (Retired) Richard Wilmot-Roussel.  The Vice Admiral (retired) provided a range of insights concerning factors, which came into, play in the operation.

These French insights were complemented by some core interviews with key participants from the USMC involved in the operation, including the 26th MEU commander, the ACE commander and an Osprey pilot involved in the F-15 pilot rescue operation.

A comparison of the two experiences has yielded some interesting insights with regard to tactical operational experiences.  And these experiences can have implications for new systems being acquired or which could be acquired.

And finally, the ongoing impact of the operation in terms of unintended consequences is highlighted in terms of the threat of missing manpads from Libya.  I am on the editorial board of advisors from AOL Defense and have included in our selection part of an important AOL Defense piece on the missing manpads.  We hope that our Department of Homeland Security is on significant mobilization to deal with this threat as well as pulsing up our readiness to defend our forces in operations worldwide.

And we have published an interview with Carl Smith, a leading expert on the systems used to defend against manpads.  Here the senior Northrop Grumman executive, the world’s leading manufacturer of such defenses, reviews the start of art in this crucial industry.