Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

General Ham: Actually, we’ll ‘consider’ U.S. boots on the ground in Libya

As John McCreary’s NightWatch concludes that, “The rebellion is approaching collapse,” here is an exchange from yesterday’s (Thursday) hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I was surprised to see Gen. Carter Ham, who as head of the Africa Command oversaw the first part of the intervention in Libya, say what he did here. He’s ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

As John McCreary's NightWatch concludes that, "The rebellion is approaching collapse," here is an exchange from yesterday's (Thursday) hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I was surprised to see Gen. Carter Ham, who as head of the Africa Command oversaw the first part of the intervention in Libya, say what he did here. He's probably lucky the White House is distracted by the budget negotiations.

The exchange is a bit murky because Sen. James Webb (D, Fields of Fire) couched his question in terms of a post-Qaddafi force, but Ham did not seem to answer it in those terms, but rather as a force to be interposed between the regime and the rebels.

SEN. WEBB: I would assume that planners are considering the prospect that there might be an international force on the ground in Libya in the future. Let's say not boots on the ground in combat, but if Qaddafi leaves, is that in the cards?

As John McCreary’s NightWatch concludes that, “The rebellion is approaching collapse,” here is an exchange from yesterday’s (Thursday) hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I was surprised to see Gen. Carter Ham, who as head of the Africa Command oversaw the first part of the intervention in Libya, say what he did here. He’s probably lucky the White House is distracted by the budget negotiations.

The exchange is a bit murky because Sen. James Webb (D, Fields of Fire) couched his question in terms of a post-Qaddafi force, but Ham did not seem to answer it in those terms, but rather as a force to be interposed between the regime and the rebels.

SEN. WEBB: I would assume that planners are considering the prospect that there might be an international force on the ground in Libya in the future. Let’s say not boots on the ground in combat, but if Qaddafi leaves, is that in the cards?

GEN. HAM: Sir, I think that is certainly one potential outcome of this, an international force of some composition intervening between the regime and the opposition forces.

SEN. WEBB: Would it be a consideration for the United States military to be on the ground in that situation for you?

GEN. HAM: Sir, I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that’s probably not the ideal circumstance, again, for the regional reactions that that would — that having American boots on the ground would entail.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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