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Operations Ellamy and Odyssey Dawn: Day 4 Libyan Battle Assessment

Libya – Day 4 – with intent clear, second phase of international mission aims to formalise command structures and integrate a broad range of partners

In a time-frame that was, by the standard of previous UN debates, lightning fast, the ratification of Resolution 1973 has dramatically instigated an international military operation to stop the internal suppression of the Libyan revolt. Mandated to execute “all necessary measures” required to stop the onslaught of the state military against civilians, including the beleaguered rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi, the response by North American and European forces has been far more robust than commentators predicted.

How has this operation unfolded so far, and what political and strategic considerations will influence how the coalition deployment progresses?

Signaling intent – the initial phase

For the three primary backers of the intervention (France, the UK and US), the clear strategic imperative has been for a rapid and robust display of force. Whilst the mere passing of Resolution 1973 strikes a massive blow to Gaddafi’s claims of legitimacy, by placing the responsibility to cease attacks firmly on his shoulders, the internal military balance of power remains in his favour. The previous fortnight has seen rebel forces pushed back almost 200km to the outskirts of Benghazi, hounded by aerial attacks, armour and artillery. Worse still, previous evidence of bombardment at Zawiya and Misratahas indicated that the regime has few qualms about bombarding urban areas prior to an assault.

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