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Libyan Army

By early August 2011 the National Transition Council (NTC) in Libya was said to have preliminary projects to rebuild the Libyan Army, as the opposition forces managed to take control of the Libyan capital Tripoli. By December 2011 Qatar, France and Italy were said to be working to achieve a series of studies about how to rebuild the Libyan Land Forces (LLF).

Libya's army chief resigned June 09, 2013 after clashes between protesters and a government-aligned militia left 31 people dead in the eastern city of Benghazi. The violence erupted when protesters in Benghazi stormed a base of a group of Islamist militias paid by the government to help maintain security. The protesters were demanding that the militias lay down their arms and submit to the authority of Libya's security forces. Army Chief of Staff Youssef al-Mangoush, who was in charge of the militias, had been criticized for delays in forming a national army and allowing the militias to thrive. Libya's police and military rely on the brigades to help with security of the country. But state security officers accused al-Mangoush of corruption and of failing to exert authority over the militias.

Progress in integrating revolutionary fighters into the police and the Libyan army remained very limited, as was their reintegration into civilian life. In an attempt to encourage revolutionaries to enlist in the army, and to improve the salary scale for current uniformed personnel, in late 2013 the Government announced an increase in salaries for the military, effective from January 2014. The Government also announced that it is moving forward with the training of twelve to fifteen thousand soldiers outside of Libya. Restructuring the army and addressing the inflated ranks of the officer corps, was an urgent priority.

The UK agreed to train 2,000 Libyan military personnel in Britain as part of the wider training package for 8,000 servicemen agreed with a number of NATO members on the sidelines of the G8 summit in the summer of 2013. 21 October 2013 the NATO Secretary Generals stated "Allies have agreed to respond positively to the request made by the Libyan Prime Minister for NATO to provide advice on defence institution building in Libya, as part of the overall efforts of the international community. We will establish a small advisory team to conduct this effort. This advisory effort will work in close coordination with and complement efforts by other international organisations and bilateral efforts by Allies, and will avoid duplications. As we said at the NATO Summit in Chicago, we stand ready to consider providing assistance to Libya in areas where the Alliance can add value. We welcome efforts undertaken bilaterally by Allies to strengthen Libyas security sector."

National Mobile Force

In September 2012 Libyas military ordered the formation of a unit charged with disbanding illegal militias in Benghazi, the countrys second largest city. The unit groups the Zawiya Martyrs Brigade, a militia, with members of the special forces, the military police and the intelligence service. The National Mobile Force - Benghazi was to be responsible for implementing an earlier decree by the National Congress requiring the illegal or unlicensed armed groups to disband and returning to the state institutions and installations used as bases since the rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi. By April 2013 the National Mobile Force, a unit of the Libyan army, had taken control of the town of Mizdah in northwestern Nafusa Mountains, 180km south of Tripoli, to put a stop to fighting, but residents said they felt the situation was precarious and that around half the population had fled.

Having committed $8m to help build a counterterrorism force in Libya, by late 2012 the US faced a difficult choice: work through a weak government that has so far proved unable to build a national army and police force from the thousands of former rebels who have operated as militias since Muammar Gaddafi's downfall or work with the militias themselves, such as the Libyan Shield, the Supreme Security Committee and other groups.

General Purpose Force

The Government of Libya requested a sale of training by the US for a 6,000 to 8,000 person General Purpose Force. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress 22 January 2014 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Libya for General Purpose Force Training and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $600 million. The training includes services for up to 8 years for training, facilities sustainment and improvements, personnel training and training equipment, 637 M4A4 carbines and small arms ammunition, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE), and other related elements of logistical and program support.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of Libya. The proposed sale will enable Libya to develop, and train a General Purpose Force. The basic, collective and advanced training will be critical for establishing a professional and disciplined General Purpose Force used in protecting Libyas institutions, facilities, and personnel as well as keeping peace and security within Libya. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractors would be determined during the competitive bid process. There were no known offset agreements in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale would require the assignment of 350 US Government and contractor personnel for up to 8 years to conduct training at the Novo Selo training site in Bulgaria. There would be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. The notice of a potential sale was required by law and did not mean the sale has been concluded.

The US Defense Department continued to work with nations in North Africa to promote security and increase stability in the region still feeling the effects of the Arab Spring. Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are confronting instability and the U.S. military is working to build or strengthen their police and military forces.

Libya remains a key source of instability in North Africa and the Sahel. After the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi, there is little government infrastructure inside Libya, Dory said, and certainly no tradition of democracy. Violence is rampant in Libya and the Libyan government is too weak to control its borders and militias provide what security there is. Arms merchants are shipping Libyan weapons out of the country and these arms are fueling instability from Mali westward.

The US Department of Defense is prioritizing its assistance to focus on building Libyan security capacity and on improving the Libyan governments ability to counter terrorism, counter weapons proliferation and secure and destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles. The United States will provide general-purpose-force military training for 5,000-8,000 Libyan personnel. This training effort is intended to help the Libyan government build the military it requires to protect government institutions and maintain order.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 16-06-2014 19:55:55 ZULU