What they’re saying about sending advisers to Libya
The decision to send UK and French military advisers to Benghazi has brought charges of ‘mission creep’
The British and French governments announced yesterday that they would send a joint team of military advisers – understood to be 20 in total - to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, becoming the first Western troops on the ground in Libya.
Foreign Office officials stressed that the team is travelling there in an advisory capacity only rather than to train the rebels, and that there were no current plans to arm the rebels.
However, for many the move is an example of mission creep, and the fear is that gradually the UK will find itself drawn into a ground war in Libya against Col Gaddafi's forces.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:Major General Patrick Cordingley, commander of the Desert Rats in the 1991 Gulf War: "This is the thin end of the wedge. The danger of putting advisers on the ground is that you are making it crystal clear that you are supporting the rebels and stoking up a civil war. It is sad we don’t appear to think we can bring sufficient pressure on Gaddafi to leave him isolated without having to up the ante in terms of supporting the opposition with military advice."
Robert Fox, The First Post defence correspondent: "A coordinated short term and long term plan is now needed - the short term to bring some humanitarian relief to the distressed people of Misrata and more than a dozen other towns in almost as bad state. Real negotiation must be started with the rebels and with Gaddafi, if necessary without precondition."
William Hague, foreign secretary: "[The advisers] will enable the UK to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the National Transitional Council on how to better protect civilians. In particular they will advise the NTC on how to improve their military organisational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance."
Alain Juppe, French foreign minister: "[France remains] absolutely opposed to troop deployment on the ground. What we have perhaps underestimated is Muammar Gaddafi's capacity to adapt."
Sir Menzies Campbell, former Lib Dem leader: "Sending advisers for a limited purpose is probably within the terms of Resolution 1973, but it must not be seen as a first instalment of further military deployment. Vietnam began with a US president sending military advisers. We must proceed with caution."
David Winnick, Labour MP: "However much one despises the brutality of the Gaddafi clan which rules Libya, the fact remains that there is a danger of mission creep. There is a civil war in Libya and this is a big escalation of Britain's involvement."
General Lord Dannatt, former head of the British army: "[The decision is] an entirely logical further step to achieve legitimate aims. Some will always say 'mission creep', but [Britain should] interpret the UN mandate broadly to avoid mission collapse."
Peter Bone, Conservative MP: "We are now looking at regime change and we are clearly backing the rebels. We seem to be taking sides in a civil war. That’s for Parliament to decide."
Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, Libyan foreign minister: "It is a step to prolong the confrontation, there is no doubt about that. Sending military personnel will encourage the other side to be more defiant."
Daily Telegraph editorial: "Mr Cameron may deny that we are witnessing what is known as 'mission creep' but it is hard to draw any other conclusion. Indeed, the coalition has started to fracture precisely because other Nato countries fear this action is going beyond what was originally intended." ·
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