Tuesday, May 24, 2011
by Rick Rozoff
The war by major North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states against Libya is in its third month and has been conducted under the official auspices of NATO for the past fifty days.
According to the military bloc's daily online tally , Alliance military aircraft have flown over 7,200 missions and more than 2,800 combat flights since NATO inaugurated so-called Operation Unified Protector on March 31.
The world's only military alliance stands to match or exceed the 78-day duration of its air war against Yugoslavia in 1999 if not to deploy troops in Libya in what could expand into protracted combat and occupation roles like those in Afghanistan and adjoining nations where the Pentagon and NATO will mark the tenth anniversary of their invasion this October 7.
Recently Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko "Pointed out that the operation in Libya is becoming the first actual litmus test for NATO's new strategic concept,"  a reference to the latest Strategic Concept adopted by the 28-nation alliance at its summit in Lisbon, Portugal last November, the first in this century and since that endorsed at the Washington summit in 1999 when NATO was waging its first war (against Yugoslavia) and incorporating its first post-Cold War recruits (the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland).
The war against Libya was also the test case for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the first overseas military command launched by the Pentagon since the end of the Cold War (its predecessor, Central Command, was created in 1983), whose Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn was in charge of bombing runs and cruise missile attacks in and a naval blockade of Libya from March 19-30.
The activation of AFRICOM as an independent command on October 1, 2008 and the expansion of NATO into Africa were integrally, inevitably related developments, as the top military chief of U.S. European Command, to which almost the entire African continent and the nascent AFRICOM were for years assigned, and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe are and for almost 60 years have been the same person, currently America's Admiral James Stavridis.
In what may have imminent and menacing implications for the ongoing conflict in Libya, Africa is also the laboratory for the 25,000-troop NATO Response Force, intended to be deployable within five days throughout the world and to sustain operations, including combat missions, for up to six months. In other words, the world's first international military strike force. The NATO Response Force was an initiative of then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld which was endorsed by the Alliance at its 2002 summit in the Czech Republic, the latter only having been brought into NATO three years before.
Posted by Helge at 12:51 PM