Libya's rebels: Train them, don't arm them

The White House is debating whether to send weapons to the struggling anti-Gadhafi rebels, says Robert Haddick in Foreign Policy. What they really need is boot camp  

The Libyan rebels don't need weapons from the U.S. to oust Moammar Gadhafi, says Robert Haddick at Foreign Policy.
(Image credit: Corbis)

It doesn't take CIA agents on the ground in Libya to see why the ragtag band of rebels opposing Moammar Gadhafi is being routed so easily, says Robert Haddick in Foreign Policy. And note to Washington: It isn't their lack of anti-tank rocket launchers. If the rebels — who are increasingly coming across as rudderless, if not clueless — want a shot at overthrowing Gadhafi, they "need boot camp, fundamental infantry training, and the development of some battlefield leaders, not a new stockpile of weapons." And a stalemate with Gadhafi may buy the rebels the time they need to get up to speed. Here, an excerpt:

Absent a Western invasion of the country, the rebel force is the only means of removing Gadhafi, and the rebels will need many months or even years of training before they are capable of defeating loyalist ground units and marching all the way to Tripoli.

A comparison with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance is instructive. The anti-Taliban Northern Alliance was the battle-hardened survivor of a decade-long struggle against the Soviet Red Army. After that Darwinian test, the Northern Alliance had capable leaders, a disciplined command structure, and proven tactics. When CIA and Special Forces advisors arrived in October 2001 to assist the Northern Alliance, they found a capable military force to support. By contrast, just a few weeks into their struggle, Libya's rebels are far from being able to accomplish the military goals they seek.

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