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Report from FOI: What can NATO learn from the Libya operation?

FOI has analysed the military operations directed against Libya in 2011 for the purpose of drawing lessons for future military actions. “The most important lessons are first and foremost that there are limits regarding air-to-air refuelling, intelligence support and precision air strikes in Europe or neighbouring areas,” says Fredrik Lindvall, an analyst at FOI.

The report shows that it was sufficient to use only a small part of the NATO members’ collective resources in order to defeat Gaddafi’s forces, but then Libya was not a sophisticated adversary. In the case of several countries, and in certain niches, the Libya operation showed significant capability deficiencies within the Alliance.

“It is clear how dependent Europe was on the United States when it came to capabilities such as intelligence support and precision air strikes, for example,” says Fredrik Lindvall.

A clear characteristic of the Libya campaign was the central emphasis on air attacks. The eventual course of events and the fall of Gaddafi’s regime cannot, however, be attributed to this factor alone. The breakthrough on the ground must also owe much to the increased military capability of the rebel forces and the overall effect of the multinational operations.

“The war brought with it a great deal of suffering and many deaths, but in terms of civilian casualties directly associated with NATO military action, the Libya campaign stands out as less damaging than might have been expected,” says Fredrik Lindvall.

Link to the report at the right side om this article Internationella insatser i Libyen 2011. En analys av den militära kampanjen mot Gaddafis regim. (International operations in Libya 2011. An analysis of the military campaign against Gaddafi’s regime). In Swedish with a summary in English.

FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Swedish Defence Research Agency
SE-164 90 Stockholm

Phone +46 8 555 030 00
Fax +46 8 555 031 00

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