July 25, 2013:
As part of an ongoing effort to create modern, and loyal, security forces, Libya has made a deal with Britain to have 2,000 specially screened Libyan soldiers (many with some experience in Kaddafi’s ramshackle armed forces) sent to Britain for ten weeks of intense training. This includes not just how to perform better in combat but also how to organize and carry out patrols, sweeps, raids, intelligence collection, and so on.
While NATO countries have been sending instructors to Libya for over a year now, the facilities down there are still primitive and there is still an Islamic terrorist threat, especially to foreign military and police trainers. Britain already has the facilities, and with the operation taking place in Britain it’s easier to recruit retired military men (especially those speaking Arabic) if they can stay near their families rather than spending three months in Libya. While it’s expensive to fly 2,000 Libyans to Britain, the better facilities and larger staff of Arab speaking instructors makes it worthwhile. Britain insisted that Libya guarantee (in writing) that all 2,000 Libyans would return home. Libyans travelling to the West have been known to spontaneously ask for asylum. While this might not always be granted, the procedure is long and expensive for Western governments. This agreement is supposed to eliminate that problem but time will tell.
Meanwhile, NATO trainers continue to work in Libya on a variety of tasks. Some of these operations have been quite specialized. Last year a team of American special operations troops recruited Libyans to be part of a government counter-terrorism commando force. The Arab speaking Americans selected and trained several hundred suitable candidates. The government needed some way to deal with a possible coup attempt by Islamic radicals. These groups, which include some al Qaeda affiliates, were angry and mystified at not receiving a majority of the votes in recent elections. They blamed America and Israel and, as usual, accuse Libyans who oppose them of not being proper Moslems. This could get ugly and most Libyans knew it. But using a few dozen American instructors to select and train a few hundred paramilitary troops does not produce a security force sufficient to maintain order throughout the country. Libya needs more training and trainers and needs it fast.