This early in a conflict it's hard to tell how much accurate reporting is happening and how much is distorted due to limited sources. This New York Times article is making me wonder if the US is already starting to play a larger role than it needs to. I understand that it is essential for US forces to take out the anti-air defenses but I don't see the need for US forces to be striking at ground targets. It may be that our larger naval forces and problems with coordinating still incoming allied forces mean that we have forces in striking distance of targets such as armor and artillery while others currently do not. On the other hand, America has a poor track record of sharing command and operations with others so it is also possible we're suffering mission creep when we don't need to because of this characteristic of our strategic culture. Too early to tell, but I was worried about this but cautiously optimistic that as a result of the reluctance of the administration to participate in the Libyan intervention that we'd avoid our usual fate of demanding a leadership role whenever we participate.
Also, the divisions in the Arab League worries me. Part of this is expected, none of these countries are all that democratic and they want plausible deniability. Hopefully this is all that is happening. What discourages me is that this is an example of completely unrealistic assumptions about war. It was never possible to enforce a no fly zone simply by sending jets over and only firing back when fired on. Of course we were going to have to hit command and control centers, airstrips, and anti-air batteries. To think otherwise is incredibly naive.
This is a problem that I see often however. People want to impose morality designed for individuals on state and group action, namely don't strike until someone else strikes first and then do so proportionately. This isn't possible when you have a responsibility to others that are being asked to take action. I find the idea of ordering pilots into harms way without first doing all we can to mitigate the chances of their getting killed to be an immensely immoral action. No one should have the right to do this when they have the power to defend those they are responsible for. The responsibility for commanders to see to the well being of their troops require that known valid military targets be taken out first before individuals under their command are asked to risk their lives. It's regrettable that live will be lost in the installations struck but weighed against the power that the state possesses against the rights of the people under its command this is clearly the lesser of the two evils. If Qaddafi hadn't been intending to fight back his troops would have already been withdrawn, sending our planes in before taking out these installations would have been little different then sending our soldiers to the gallows since we both knew about and had the power to save their lives by eliminating these installations. No state can do that with a clear conscience.