by Baron Halpenny, LincsMag Editor.
Date: 03 November 2011
British military assets used in operations over Libya are back home, following NATO’s decision to conclude the mission on 31st October.
Visiting Italy’s Gioia Del Colle airfield last month, where many of the UK air assets have been based throughout the campaign, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond approved the immediate return of six Tornado GR4 fast jets.
The news of NATO’s decision came through while Mr Hammond was in Italy, enabling him to give the go-ahead to the initial drawdown – which also see dozens of supporting staff return home.
Operations continued until 31st October, but the number of missions were scaled down significantly, meaning fewer aircraft were required.
The remaining British air assets, including another 10 Tornado GR4s, two VC10 tankers, two E3D Sentry and one Sentinel surveillance aircraft now return to the UK.
On his visit to meet British personnel deployed on Operation ELLAMY – as Britain’s contribution to the campaign has been known – Mr Hammond paid tribute to their work. He said:
“Our armed forces can be immensely proud that their hard work has assured the liberty of the Libyan people. This is a job well done and we will be sending our crews home from tonight. I have given my personal thanks today to some of the aircrew and support personnel at Gioia del Colle.”
However it has been claimed that the black flag of Al Qaeda has been spotted flying over a public building in Libya, raising concerns that the country could lurch towards Muslim extremism, though this doesn’t seem to have come into the picture for our government planning.
The NATO announcement in October brings to a conclusion a military campaign that the government is claiming as one of the most successful that NATO and UK forces have conducted, and marks the point at which withdrawal of individual nation’s forces can commence.
There is no doubting the fine standards, skill and dedication of the British Military, they do as they are ordered and show the highest level of professionalism. The problem comes from the government and leaders that start these campaigns with little or no thought to the consequences and possible negative scenarios.
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, said Islamic Sharia law would be the "basic source" of legislation in free Libya, where already it has emerged that rebels in Libya have imposed Sharia law in the some parts of country since seizing power.
This makes Mr Hammond’s comments of “Our armed forces can be immensely proud that their hard work has assured the liberty of the Libyan people.” Rather odd to say the least.
At its peak, the UK had 2,300 personnel, 32 aircraft and four ships committed to the operation. The UK has flown more than 3,000 sorties, more than 2,100 of which were strike sorties, successfully striking around 640 targets.
But has Cameron used taxpayer’s money to give power to Muslim extremists or even Al Qaeda? All this at a time when David Cameron and his party are doing mass cuts in the military budget, cuts which senior military advisors have warned are wrong.
Senior officers and defence experts have warned the Prime Minster that the scrapping of the Harriers and aircraft carrier Ark Royal means Britain can no longer carry out amphibious operations without putting troops’ lives at “considerable risk”.
The Libyan campaign was very much Cameron’s war as he urged other nations to join him. Also let us remember that Cameron and his party never won the last general election, so he did all this on behalf of a nation, which had never voted him and his party to lead them.
It's good to see our forces safely back from at least this campaign, but what problems for the future has Cameron and the government caused? Only time will tell.