Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Mouse That Roared

I recall seeing a western rebel in uniform in one news report and wondered where he got that. From Qatar, apparently, along with much more (tip to Defense Industry Daily):

“The principle source of support for the rebels came from ‘Q-SOC,’” the Qatari special forces, says this source, who would only be identified as a former U.S. intelligence contractor with direct knowledge of operations in Libya. With the advance on Tripoli impending, the “Q-SOC” teams went to work getting rebels ready to finish the war, teaching them how to use the shoulder-fired missiles they looted from Gadhafi’s weapons stocks and even the basics of shooting straight.

“They went west into the Nafusa mountains and provided minimal basic shooting and tactics training to individual rebel brigades. That’s why those rebels are generally in three-color desert uniforms,” the source tells Danger Room. The Los Angeles Times described those Nafusa-based rebels as “gritty, and gave them a large share of credit for turning the tide of the war. “They also selected 100-plus western-region Libyans for small-unit leadership training, and flew them to Qatar and then back to Nafusa for the big push.”

I wasn't impressed by Qatar's decision to send 6 planes to enforce the no-fly zone since that was a minor mission and one where lots of countries were willing to do (flying around knowing with 99.9% certainty that no Libyan jets would challenge them). Nice work if you can get it, eh?

But turning the western rebels into an actual army of sorts (but Khaddafi's forces were only relatively better trained and organized and very small) is another thing altogether. Qatar may only have 12 Mirage fighters to send, but they also only have a company of special forces. That's usually a force of one hundred or so. They did a lot with a small force. And pulling off a quick leadership training course back home was pretty good.

Of course, I expect that they worked closely with France. Qatar's arsenal is French-built. And recall France dropped arms to the western rebels at the end of June. Now we know that wasn't an isolated operation. Sending arms that Qatari special forces could train the western rebels to use would work best. So I doubt it was just training rebels to use captured weapons.

So congratulations to Qatar ft creating the army NATO needed to beat Khaddafi.