Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rebel Professionalism

There's a very good article in today's New York Times on the lack of professionalism in the Libyan rebel's armed forces.  It's not anything surprising, it's exactly what should be expected from this kind of spontaneous uprising.  But there's a couple of things worth commenting on here.

First, they do seem sufficient to take ground and slow down Qaddafi's advances alongside air strikes.  At this stage all they need to be able to do is not lose.  Eventually the soldiers will get blooded and learn enough to carry on some kind of real offensive.  Until then, lines are likely to stay very fluid.  This kind of combat probably won't be able to reliably hold territory but it should be able to limit the mobility of Qaddafi's forces now that they don't have air support.  They may not be able to stop a slow, measured advance but they can probably hammer a strung out column that is trying to blitz Benghazi.  Once the rebels manage to organize the real soldiers they do have into units and these irregulars become somewhat organized they might have a chance of advancing.  This will take several weeks, if not months, as I said before.  Anyone that thought this would be over in days either doesn't know anything about revolution war or assumed that Qaddafi would give in easily, which was obviously not a possibility within a few days.

Second, anyone that thinks that the 2nd amendment actually protects us from government needs to study this.  If assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, and a couple of jets can't fight back effectively against a marginal military force such as Qaddafi's without overwhelming outside strategic support what the hell are a bunch of rifles, shotguns, and pistols supposed to do against a military able to take on the US army, or the US army itself?  This shows pretty clearly what it actually looks like when an armed citizenry rises up against a dictatorial power in the era of modern arms.  Even if everyone had an assault rifle, which is more or less the case in Libya, they can't fight back against organized military opposition with modern equipment.


  1. Thank you Tzi, this is an argument (the second point) I have made so many times both at DiA but also to my libertarian friends.
    The short window in history where rebels could stand up against professional armies, a period where also very many dictatorship and empires fell, are long since closed, with Desert Storm as the final proof.

  2. JGradus,

    I'm glad you liked it. This is a point I've tried hammering home as well, but it never seems to take. I'm personally curious about the kind of creative excuses that people will be given to justify their views after this war, since it seems to me as clear an example as possible about the limits of small arms to take on even a third rate military.