Winning in Libya: By Design or Default? (IFRI, 30/01/2013)

The 2011 insurgency in Libya, supported by the air forces of the NATO-led coalition, brought about the demise of Supreme Leader Mouammar Qadhafi. While the United Nations Security Council resolutions did not direct regime change, many key political leaders saw it as a highly desired outcome of the conflict. This divergence in objective led to a lack of clear political guidance at the strategic level, which often translated into somewhat inconsistent military planning at the operational level. The authors contend that this confusion tends to demonstrate that the means as well as the final result were reached by default rather than by design. The gap that was experienced between policy and military operations may impact NATO’s future operations and political cohesion. In turn, the Libyan case, which underlines the need to develop consistent strategy and military plans, may deliver insights for strategists and planners, especially for the air component.

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