NATO Commander Says Resilience of Qaddafi Loyalists Is Surprising

The commander of NATO’s air campaign in Libya, USAF Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II

From Eric Schmitt, the New York Times:  The commander of NATO’s air campaign in Libya has said that hundreds of organized fighters loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi pose a “resilient and fierce” threat in the two remaining pro-Qaddafi strongholds, and are exploiting the urban settings to complicate the alliance’s mission to protect civilians.

In the coastal city of Surt and the desert enclave of Bani Walid, pro-Qaddafi snipers on rooftops and loyalist gunmen in pickup trucks are terrorizing residents, killing some and intimidating many others, said the officer, Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II of the United States Air Force.

General Jodice said a mix of African mercenaries and Qaddafi loyalist troops have successfully sustained command-and-control and supply lines in staunch defense of the cities, despite a NATO air campaign that is now in its seventh month and a multipronged ground assault in Surt by anti-Qaddafi fighters.
“It’s really been quite interesting how resilient and fierce they’ve been,” General Jodice said in a telephone interview on Sunday from his command center just north of Bologna, Italy. “We’re all surprised by the tenacity of the pro-Qaddafi forces. At this point, they might not see a way out. . . .”
General Jodice’s command plays a pivotal role in a convoluted chain that starts with political orders from NATO headquarters in Brussels and passes through a military command center in Naples, Italy. General Jodice, a native of New Milford, N.J., oversees the delicate process of matching specific allied aircraft, armed with specific weapons, to specific targets to achieve the best results on the ground with the least risk to civilians.

More than 500 planners, analysts and operations specialists from 26 countries, including the non-NATO nations Sweden, Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, work from a small base set amid farms and cornfields near Bologna. . . .

The United States is still flying an array of surveillance planes and remotely piloted Predator drones, particularly near Surt. But General Jodice said there was no coordination or intelligence-sharing between NATO and the anti-Qaddafi fighters, though British and French special forces troops, among other advisers on the ground in Libya, have for months helped train the former rebels and provided them with intelligence.  (photo: Massimo Sciacca/New York Times)

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