Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rifts threaten UK's role in Libya war

Source: Press TV

The chief of the British armed forces has dismissed the head of the Navy's concerns over the UK's inability to sustain its military presence in the war against Libya.

General Sir David Richards, the head of the armed forces boasted that the country is still involved in the war as long as it deemed necessary, British media reported.

Sir David Richards was answering concerns raised by head of the Navy, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope who said earlier that the government's defence cuts would prevent the country from playing a sustainable role in the NATO invasion of the North African country.

NATO took over the Libyan mission on March 31st, initially for 90 days but its mission has been extended by another 90 days.

The internal rifts between the British top military brass will add to the warnings that NATO military alliance has become split on how to go on with the intervention, with several member countries including Norway considering leaving the war.

The war, now in its 4th months, was triggered by a joint draft tabled at the UN Security Council by Britain and France. And, the ultimate resolution 1973 called for a no-fly zone to be imposed on Libya to protect the countries' civilians from being killed at the hands of the country's long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

Sir David Richards attempted to allay fears that Britain could not maintain the current level of military operations in Libya for much longer, a concern triggered by Sir Mark Stanhope, who warned that the government would have to make "challenging decisions" if the mission lasted more than six months.

Sir Mark, the First Sea Lord, said the campaign would have been easier if naval commanders had been able to call on the aircraft carrier and the fleet of Harrier jump jets scrapped last year as part of a bruising round of cuts.

But, Sir David suggested that the First Sea Lord had been misunderstood, saying it was "not correct" that the UK could only maintain operations for another three months.

"We can sustain this operation as long as we choose to. I am absolutely clear on that", boasted General Richards.

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, also guaranteed the forces would be given the resources they required.

This is while that the UK Navy chief said his forces had been forced to ask the US to resupply Tomahawk missiles used by submarines to attack Libyan targets.

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