NIDO, the Battlefield’s New Pejorative

NIDO powder

From CJ Chivers, New York Times: A few days ago, a rebel field commander in Libya, discussing the pace of fighting along the several small fronts in his country’s west, allowed himself a knowing chuckle. “When we talked about NATO,” he said, “we used to call it NATO. Now we call it NIDO.”

NIDO is a brand of powdered milk, often fed to toddlers.

This commander’s insult summarized a feeling now often heard among the armed men opposed to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. After the war in Libya settled a late-spring slog that has seen only incremental progress through mid-summer, it was perhaps inevitable: NATO’s vaunted air power, in the minds of many rebel fighters, has not lived up to its billing.

There are any number of reasons for this. Some — the number and types of aircraft committed to the war, the absence of controllers on the ground to select targets and direct strikes — flow from particular decisions made in foreign capitals. Others follow unrealistic expectations, including that the mere appearance of air power should have scattered the Qaddafi army and broken the Qaddafi family’s will. The Qaddafi military, most everyone now acknowledges, has fought harder than most anyone predicted back in March.

For now, rebels who talk of NIDO, or otherwise complain, do so less with ingratitude than perplexity. They express thanks over and again that NATO has taken their side. They often insist they will never forget the arrival of the planes in March that prevented Benghazi, the rebel capital, from falling to a Qaddafi attack.  But as the two forces grind bloodily together on many fronts, there are growing signs of rebel frustration, as the rank-and-file, as is the case in almost every war, depart from the script. A breakthrough, they seem to say. Where? When?

Image: NIDO.jpg