A ten-strong team of intelligence, signals and logistics experts will help set up an opposition headquarters to take on Colonel Gaddafi’s forces, but the government denies claims of “mission creep”.
According to the Daily Mail, a senior government source said, ‘At most it is mission twitch.’
Not only is this bizarre, but it is also at odds with what the military are saying.
Major General Patrick Cordingley, commander of the Desert Rats in the 1991 Gulf War, said, “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.’
So if a Major General is saying that British actions makes it “crystal clear” that we are “stoking up a civil war”, then what possible justification could the British government have for this policy?
Foreign secretary William Hague: ‘Our officers will not be involved in training or arming the opposition. Nor will they be involved in the planning or execution or any other form of operational military advice.’
So what on earth are they doing there? Making the tea? Socialising perhaps?
In an attempt to justify this development under the defensive restrictions of Resolution 1972, an MoD source said: ‘We’re not teaching them how to attack. We’re teaching them how not to get killed.’
In case the MoD has missed the pictures on the television news, maybe someone should point out that the rebel army doesn’t need any lessons in how to run away.
Senior sources have told the Mail that the terms of the military advice will remain under review and concede that further steps may be necessary if the rebels ‘needed another nudge’.
However, there is a distinction to be made between “a nudge”, and bombing a foreign country from 30,000 feet. One is a subtle hint, while the other involves bombing them from 30,000 feet.
Meanwhile resentment is building, in the military, at the sheer cost of this operation. Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward, who led the Falklands Taskforce in 1982, has written to the Ministry of Defence deploring the cost, which includes a £30 million weekly bill for using air bases in Italy and Cyprus.
Woodward considers it was wrong to scrap the Ark Royal carrier and its Harrier jump jets, pointing out that the Libyan adventure will cost about £1billion over six months. This is ‘three times the cost of running a carrier plus the Harriers for four whole years’.
Further to this sorry state of affairs, it is now becoming apparent that the British are alone in their desire to continue this mission. Sources said there are problems at Nato command where some of Britain’s allies are ‘acting as a brake’ on the targeting of Gaddafi’s forces.
‘We are keeping up a high tempo of operations,’ one source said. ‘I wish we could say the same about some of the others. The French talk a good game but they are not doing as much as people think.’
Great. So now it seems we’re alone in stoking up a civil war. Far from being “mission twitch”, it’s more like “lonely twitch”. It seems that every other country has seen sense and only the British want to get more deeply embroiled in this potential Vietnam.
Operation Disingenuous goes from bad to worse.