This is not a book about war. It is a book about humanity interacting with chaos, some directed, and some without direction. War is just a part of the social collapse and momentous struggle of rebuilding Libyan society described in the book. In not letting the reader’s vision narrow to the battles and materiel, Wehrey highlights the importance of context to strategy.
In terms of lessons, Operation El Dorado Canyon is rich, and oft-neglected by modern strategists. The mission’s planning and execution have filled several books; however, it is with the renewed interest in the idea of ad hoc, limited, retaliatory strikes, that this operation becomes particularly instructive.
I want to start this piece with a slight preface. In my last, and first, post I discussed the relative value of contributions made by the NATO assets involved in Operation Unified Protector. I discussed the relative values of their contributions in relation to the formation of the NTC. It occurs to me now that I wasn’t upfront about the manner in which I assessed relative contributions. When I rated the contributions of NATO’s combined airpower and the small but effective band of elite special operators on the ground I used the word significant. When seeking to emphasize the importance of the NTC’s establishment I used the word decisive.
A fortnight ago, the Libyan rebels swept into the capital city of Tripoli and have since begun to assert control over territory it seemed only weeks ago they would never lay claim to. The side that spent months teetering on the brink of imminent demise has now become the mortal lock. Now that they’ve reached this position of unrivaled dominance it seems the world is ready to start talking in past tense about the conflict.