A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome, Bienvenue, and Benvenuto to Mission Creep

Now that Great Britain, France and Italy are all going to provide boots on the ground military advisers to the rebels in Libya, the BBC reminds us:
In 1975, a handful of Soviet military advisers were sent to Afghanistan; by 1978, there were more than 3,000; within a decade, well over half a million Soviet troops ha[d] passed through.
US involvement in Vietnam also began with a small advisory mission in 1950. It expanded to 750 in 1955, and 16,300 by 1963.
This reflects the inherent difficulties of long-distance regime change, and the excessive and usually disappointed hopes placed in modern air power.

I know, history doesn't repeat itself; there isn't going to be a Gulf of Sidra Resolution . . . is there?


The Familiar Strange said...

I saw a twitter post earlier today that said something to the effect of, "Italian military advisors are being sent to assist Libyan rebels - as if they didn't already have problems"

David Mack said...

The Libyan rebels do need trained boots on the ground. The limitations on air power are on display in Misurata. The boots should be Libyan ones, trained for the job of rooting out snipers and spotting loyalist amour and artillery that has been inserted into urban areas where collateral damage to civilians from anything but very precise bombing would be probable. That will take time. The most appropriate boots to take up the slack and to do the OJT are being worn by members of the Egyptian army next door.