Sunday, March 20, 2011

Targeting Gaddafi

Like most things in the military, planning is structured. The planning process is known the MAP – the Military Appreciation Process. It is a systematic and structured process that aims to ensure that all elements have been considered and that a plan meets the test of being feasible, acceptable, suitable and distinguishable enough from other plans to warrant consideration on its own. One of the first steps is to create a Centre of Gravity Construct. This allows the planner to shape a plan to target an opponent's weaknesses. General H. Norman "Stormin'" Norman wrote extensively about it in his autobiography. The Centre of Gravity has a long-winded doctrinal definition, but essentially it is the "thing" that, if you kick it out, will cause your opponent to topple. I have had a quick bash at creating a CoG construct for the first phase of any operation to topple Gaddafi. If the war in Iraq taught us anything, it is that subsequent planning must be focussed on winning the peace as comprehensively as winning the war. This idea, which I bashed out on a slow Saturday night over a couple of beers, is not aimed at a "Phase 2" plan, but at removing a dictator to facilitate a transition into something else. I am not a General, or a politician, or even a planner on a staff HQ. It is just the ousting of Gaddafi according to Sharpe.

Centre of Gravity

Gaddafi's ability to crush dissent and control the population.

Critical Capabilities

Combat Power

Traditional Loyalties



Critical Requirements

  • Air Power
  • Land Forces
  • Weapons/ Consumable munitions
  • Moral authority to employ force
  • Tribal supporters
  • Chain of Command
  • Reputation
  • Ability to portray the opposition as a threat to traditional values
  • Oil revenue Offshore funds
  • International funding
  • Control of domestic media
  • Information operations/ dissemination of information
  • Religious leaders

Critical Vulnerabilities

  • NATO/UN forces have considerable capability overmatch to his Air Force, which is vulnerable both to destruction on the ground and interdiction in the air.
  • Land Forces can be functionally dislocated from the rebel elements by forcing engagement with a coalition land force – not necessarily of sufficient mass to conquer Libya, but sufficient to draw Gaddafi's land forces away from the popular revolt.
  • Weapons/Consumable munitions can be targeted through embargoes as well as direct strikes against munitions storage facilities.
  • Moral authority to employ force can be targeted through Information Operations – see column 4.
  • Military and political embarrassment of Gaddafi will erode the loyalty of his tribal supporters.
  • Gaddafi's Chain of Command can be targeted by isolating his command structure through targeted destruction of his communications.
  • His reputation as the tribal "strong man" is vulnerable to attack both physically through decisive military defeats, and politically by international refusal to acknowledge his legitimacy.
  • His ability to portray the opposition as a threat to traditional values can be undermined by tying him to international terrorism – see column 4.
  • Isolation of Gaddafi's finances has already begun, through the quarantining of offshore funds etc.
  • This will need to be expanded and targeted to deny him funds to prosecute his continued defiance.
  • Control of domestic media can be targeted both physically and through the EM spectrum. Destruction of broadcast facilities would constitute a short-term solution, but would deny friendly elements the ability to use those in the future. Denial through the disruption of bandwidth is a better long-term solution.
  • His ability to influence the Information Operations battle can be targeted through a comprehensive counter-IO plan, using traditional media as well as social media to tie Gaddafi to the Lockerbie bombing and support for various terrorist agencies etc to undermine his recurrent theme of branding the protesters as terrorists. In addition, a positive campaign to tie the protesters to a democratic future for Libya will undermine his supporters and deny him legitimacy.
  • Religious leaders can be targeted by isolating the political struggle from religious orthodoxy. IO campaigns need to differentiate between political and religious identity.


bruce said...

Good points. Possible summary: if he becomes the weak camel, the knives will come out.

bruce said...

Like many, I fear that democracy in the region will lead to an Iran-Revolution type outcome.

But I am also a student of Indian history, and note the rise of religiously polarised politics there in the past 20 years (the 'Hindu Right'). It's not ideal, but may be the only available alternative, as it has in India.

bruce said...

May 'become' the only available alternative, as it certainly has in India.

Pedro the Ignorant said...

Richard, potentially agree with your appreciation, but your column chart is partially cut off by Blogspot and is not readable.
Can you make a jpg or alternate view of your thoughts?

There are not many in the blogosphere predicting disaster for this UN "initiative", however those with some military background are reading the tealeaves.

I would appreciate a scrub up of your chart, Sharpie.
You have demonstrated some good sense on military matters in the past.


Richard Sharpe said...

Thank you Bruce, I agree that it could be his own that bring him down.

Pedro, Ack your last. Try here