French special forces and intelligence commandos are engaged in covert operations against Islamic State militants in Libya in conjunction with the United States and Britain, the French newspaper Le Monde reported on Wednesday.
French special forces have been spotted in eastern Libya.
The story also reports that French recon planes have overflown Libya and that France set up a base in Niger near Libya, presumably to focus on ISIL.
Is France taking the lead here as I've advocated?
Apparently not, as the initial story continues:
[Le Monde] quoted a senior French defense official as saying: "The last thing to do would be to intervene in Libya. We must avoid any overt military engagement, but act discreetly."
If France is leading, they too want to lead from behind. ISIL has no problem lunging into France. But France doesn't want to actually do anything overt to fight ISIL in Libya.
The French leaned forward a little more 5 years ago. But the French still want somebody else to field the spearhead force to defeat their enemy on the ground in Libya and solve their problem.
This time for sure. Right?
But no worries, the post-Paris Massacre state of emergency that clamps down on the French people can be extended in France indefinitely, right?
UPDATE: The mood is shifting, at least:
There are signs of a growing Western urgency to stop Islamic State (ISIS), and Libyan commanders say Western weapons and air strikes will make a vital difference in the coming battle against their better-armed enemy.
Can France rally that growing urgency?
UPDATE: Can France build a local ground force to secure the country without sending any French conventional ground units?
"The French military group in Benghazi are just military advisers who provide consultations to the Libyan National Army in its battle against terrorism, but they are not fighting with our Libyan forces," special forces commander Wanis Bukhamada told Reuters. There was no immediate French comment.
That according to a senior Libyan officer.
UPDATE: Strategypage covers Libya.
UPDATE: A late addition indicates that NATO is preparing to deal with Libya:
Tunisia's government backs a plan for German forces to come to the country to train troops from neighboring Libya for the fight against Islamic State militants, the Tunisian defense minister said on Tuesday.
The British already have a small force there to help with border security, in an indication that NATO is bolstering Tunisia to hold off any spillover from a renewed NATO war in Libya to smash up ISIL.