Thursday, March 3, 2011

Well that was very dumb

The AP is reporting that 3 Dutch Marines have been captured by pro-Gaddafi forces after a botched rescue attempt of European nationals. Apparently the Dutch operation occurred on Sunday, but there was a press blackout until today in order to give time to negotiate their release. They are still in custody. 
On Wednesday, Gadhafi warned the U.S. and other Western powers not to intervene in the chaos enveloping his country. He vowed to turn Libya into "another Vietnam," and said any foreign troops coming into his country "will be entering hell and they will drown in blood."
In a speech to chanting and clapping supporters in Tripoli, Gadhafi vowed to fight on "until the last man and woman. We will defend Libya from the north to the south."
Military expert Christ Klep from the Clingendael think tank said the marines' capture was a coup for Gadhafi, who could possibly use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.
"Yes, that is a very serious consideration. They are in military uniform," he said. "It's an easy situation for Gadhafi to exploit.
According to the NYTimes the Dutch weren't the only ones doing this, just the only ones getting caught:
The use of military personnel in such operations is not limited to the Dutch authorities. Last weekend, British news reports said British special forces accompanied a rescue effort by the Royal Air Force to pluck oil workers to safety from remote desert encampments.
But, so far, there has been no indication of other military personnel being taken prisoner. 
Well that basically sums it up, he has hostages. These are the types of situations that show just how fragile the EU really is. Without a joint Defense command and coordinated intelligence gathering and sharing these types of situations may continue to occur. Although questions about this operation may eventually be answered--was there coordination with EU/NATO, what extent was that coordination, why was such a small contingent sent in, what went wrong--the fact that the British, likely sending in their highly specialized Special Air Service, had a successful operation, while the Dutch did not, may speak to something other than different operations and the fog of war. 


Let's see what happens, but I'm betting those Marines aren't released anytime soon. The Dutch, and the British for that matter, actions were a violation of Libya's sovereignty and will be another stumbling block in imposing any type of no-fly zone or other overt military action.

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