Britain, France & Italy Sending “Military Advisers” Into Libya
Britain, France and Italy have announced they will send ground troops into Libya to advise rebel forces as they fight to oust Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s longtime dictator, CNN reports.
As a handful of senior British officers heads to Benghazi to advise rebel fighters in their battle against Gaddafi’s better armed, better trained troops, government ministers went out of their way to assert that the introduction of ground personnel– called a “military liaison advisory team”– was not a sign of mission creep. Still, members of parliament of all political parties said Britain is being dragged deeper into Libya’s civil war.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell warned that Britain must “proceed with caution” as it sends advisers into Libya. “It must not be seen as a first installment of further military deployment,” he told the Telegraph. “Vietnam began with an American president sending military advisers.”
Still, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the advisers would only be helping the Transitional National Council, the governing body controlling the rebel forces, to “improve their military organizational structures, communications and logistics.” He said British troops in Libya would be under strict orders not to take part in combat or even the planning of military operations. “It’s not boots on the ground, it’s not fighting forces,” he said. “These are not people to fight on the battlefield, these are people to advise on organization.”
According to CNN, French Defense Minister Gérard Longuet also ruled out allowing French troops to fight with the rebels. “We are working within the framework of the 1973 resolution,” he asserted, referring to the United Nations resolution that authorized military action against Gaddafi’s forces but proscribed foreign occupation.
The issue of sending ground troops into Libya has deeply divided France, with even some high-ranking government ministers opposed to the action. Foreign Minister Alain Juppé declared that he is “totally hostile” to the idea.
Italy will also send in a limited number of advisers to train the rebels in self-defense tactics, the country’s foreign ministry announced. Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa insisted that any action would remain under the terms of the UN Security Council resolution.”
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