Anybody who thinks we are not at war with Libya just does not understand how we wage war.
The 911 Commission recommended that covert operations be moved from the CIA to the US military. Rumsfeld wanted this, wanted CIA resources to report to him, and set up a special intel division of the Pentagon to run the lash up. My best guess is that he was going to give the mission to Joint Special Ops and have them report directly to him, maybe or maybe not informing the CJCS. But the CIA won this fight and has enlarged its clandestine services. Every time I am in DC I am struck by how many radio ads I hear encouraging people to apply for these jobs. Yet the CIA has very limited major weapons systems, so my guess (and remember, I am just an interested guy watching open source stuff) is that the 911 Commission's recommendation has been inverted. Military assets are now supporting CIA ops rather than the other way round.
Again this is my best guess about what we are seeing in press reports about Libya. If the Prez in fact signed a finding to send the CIA to Libya on the ground, and if AC-130s are conducting coordinated strikes, and if CIA operatives helped rescue the down F-15 pilots, etc etc etc . . . then there is no question that we have "troops" on the ground. The only question is whether or not they are wearing uniforms.
I guess the uniform question matters in that even if we have a lot of people on the ground (I think the Woodward book said there were several hundred CIA ops and about the same specops on the ground in Astan in 2001) we can pretend that it is not a war as long as they are wearing LL Bean boots and not GI boots. The prestige of the US is not really at stake until a guy with a shoulder patch shows up.
But the Libyans know we are at war. And so do all our other friends and enemies and undecideds around the globe. And here is the problem with war -- you can't afford to lose. If you commit yourself and have to back off, then your opponents smell blood in the water. Always attack weakness.
And so here we are. The President has committed us to war with boots on the ground in Libya. And as a smart guy said on TV tonight, "You can't deliver weapons by UPS. And the rebels can't train themselves to use the new stuff. Especially if it requires ground to air coordination."
We had better figure out how to win it, or at least how to pretend it is a win. Because we are in it now, for better or for worse.
CIA Sends Teams to Libya; US Considers Rebel Aid
Mar 30, 2011 – 8:45 PM