No Final Decision on US Plans to Train Libyan Military

Libyan militaFrom Thom Shanker, New York Times:  The United States military is considering a mission to train Libyan security personnel with the goal of creating a force of 5,000 to 7,000 conventional soldiers and a separate, smaller unit for specialized counterterrorism missions , according to the top officer at the United States Special Operations Command.

Speaking on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library here, the commander, Adm. William H. McRaven, said no final decisions had been made about a training mission to support Libya, where militia violence has increased in recent days. . . .

He acknowledged that there would be some risk in training security forces in a country where militias have shifting ties, and that some who entered the training program might have questionable backgrounds. In particular, he cautioned that it would be difficult to vet fully all Libyan personnel who might be trained by Americans.

“There is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean record,” Admiral McRaven said. “At the end of the day, it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems.”

From Phil Stewart, Reuters:  “Suffice to say that there is going to be a kind of conventional effort, to train their conventional forces, between 5 and 7,000 conventional forces. And we have a complementary effort on the special operations side to train a certain number of their forces to do counter-terrorism,” he told a defense forum in California at the weekend. . . .

A U.S. defense official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said U.S. plans would involve training of small groups on a rotational basis over years in Bulgaria. The official said many details still needed to be worked out before training could move forward.

In September, Bulgaria’s defense minister was quoted saying in press reports that the United States aimed to carry out the training of Libyan forces in his country over a period of up to eight years.

From AP:  Defense Department spokesman Col. Steve Warren says the Army will train the troops in Bulgaria on basic, general purpose skills. He says Washington-Tripoli talks are still underway to figure out the exact number of Libyans to be trained and when the program will start.

Image: Libyan milita (photo: Ammar Abd Rabbo)