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Commandos to Rivet Joints May be Hunting Gadhafi

With a $1.7 million bounty on his head, former (I think we can say that now) Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is now being hunted by not only the rebels but also the host of NATO ISR assets involved in the fight and possibly British SAS commandos.

UK Defence Secretary, Liam Fox announced yesterday that “NATO is providing intelligence and reconnaisance assets” to hunt members of Gadhafi’s regime. I’m willing to bet that many of these ISR assets are U.S. military aircraft.

While Pentagon spokeswoman Wendy Snyder couldn’t provide a breakdown of the specific ISR birds being used in the Libyan fight, she confirmed that there are more than 70 manned and unmanned U.S. military aircraft flying everything from ISR missions to refueling and strike sorties over Libya.

We do know is that the U.S. Air Force’s big E-3 AWACS jets and E-8 Joint STARS ground scanning radar planes have been on scene as well as it’s RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude spy drone. The Global Hawk is equipped with IR cameras and, like the E-8, a synthetic aperture radar that allows it to take high resolution snapshots of the ground or track moving targets like enemy trucks that the dictator may be riding in. (The E-8’s radar has even been used in Afghanistan to identify disturbances in the Earth where IEDs have been planted.) The AWACS, meanwhile, could look for any attempts to fly Gadhafi out of the country.

We also know that RC-135 Rivet Joints have played a key role in intercepting the communications of Gadhafi’s forces. This info has been used in conjunction with the Global Hawk’s radars to pinpoint Gadhafi’s fighters and cue strike missions against them. Snippets of these intercepted conversations between Gadhafi’s troops complaining about a dire lack of supplies were also provided to rebels by NATO in order to boost their morale.

The Air Force jets have been joined in Libya, at times, by the Navy’s own P-3 radar and EP-3 Aries signals intelligence planes. Some P-3s have a similar radar as the E-8s that allows them to scan the ground for moving targets while others can scan the ocean’s surface to ID any of Gadhafi’s henchmen that may be trying to conduct a maritime assault (or smuggle the ex-strongman out of the country).

Don’t forget the Predator drones that, in addition to performing 102 airstrikes as of today, have no doubt been used to ID Gadhafi’s troops and heavy weapons that have been hiding among the civilian populations in Libyan cities.

And finally, there are the allied fighter jets themselves, like the French air force’s Rafale’s which are using the Areos photo reconnaissance pod to take day and night pictures of the battlefield and instantly beam them to command centers. The fast movers can use their recce pods to track potential targets (like a fleeing dictator) and quickly kill them if need be.

All these airborne assets are being used in conjunction with the commandos of the British 22 SAS  Regiment who are on the ground disguised as rebel fighters in their hunt for the Krazy Kolonel; a man officially wanted “dead or alive”  by the rebels’ National Transitional Council.

From The Telegraph (UK):

For the first time, defence sources have confirmed that the SAS has been in Libya for several weeks, and played a key role in coordinating the fall of Tripoli.

With the majority of the capital now in rebel hands, the SAS soldiers, who have been dressed in Arab civilian clothing and carrying the same weapons as the rebels, have been ordered to switch their focus to the search for Gaddafi, who has been on the run since his fortified headquarters was captured on Tuesday.

Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) said Gaddafi was wanted “dead or alive” and promised an amnesty to any of his inner circle prepared to betray his whereabouts.

Nato still has no idea where the despot is holed up, and on Wednesday he taunted his opponents by claiming in a television interview that he had secretly toured the streets of Tripoli without being spotted.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Mastro August 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I guess when the Rivet Joints, etc can just fly figure eights around Tripoli- their effectiveness is pretty high.

I wonder if NATO would just like to bomb/kill Qaddafi ? He would really put on a show at a trial.

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John Moore August 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

they will catch him say he was killed and dump his body at sea before anyone can say anything about it

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Jay August 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm

He would be worth a lot to Libyans as he knows where he stashed a lot of loot.
There is also a value to having a trial and televised execution. It may encourage other dictators (Assad) to take a negotiated exit rather than continuing to fight.

However, I suspect NATO would as soon kill him. He knows too much and has bribed many European political leaders who were very chummy with him until the revolt started.

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Dfens August 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I hope they get that guy so the Libyan rebels, funded by their fundamentalist Saudi masters, can set up a Shiria law based constitution and government that can be as popular in Libya as it is in Iran. I just thank god (theirs, not ours) that we can send our boys to die for a cause championed by the same people who killed thousands of American civilians on 9/11. Brilliant.

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Andrew August 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

You do realize that basically what they are doing is no different than what we did in the mid 1770s, right? Also, a group that was determined to set up Sharia law would never have asked for US and European assitance in the first place. And, even if they have democratic elections and an Islamist government is formed, then that is what they wanted. Isn't the the purpose of democracy? To give people the type of government they want, to allow them to chose who they want to govern them? This is why the US loses a lot of international credibility: we push for self-determination, but then complain if we don't get the results we wanted. Personally, I think the Libyan people will not forget that the US, the EU, Turkey, and NATO helped them remove Gadhafi. We will have an ally in them.

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Orion August 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Also correct

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Jay August 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I hope you're right!

You should know that the Taliban had no problem working with us against the Soviets, and their whole purpose was to set a Sharia law based dictatorship. The Arabs/Muslims have a slogan "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". This applies until the first enemy is defeated, then the "friend" becomes the new enemy.

You should also know that when the civil war started the rebel leadership were very secretive and we had no clue who they were. This was on purpose as some of them are members of al-qaeda. They needed our help so they kept it on the down low and got some new leaders.

The problem with Sharia and democracy is that once the Sharia Muslim Brotherhood types are in power there are no more free elections.

It's one man, one vote, one time.

That's the problem in Iran: the people are sick of sharia and backwards fundamentalism and the corrupt mullahs. If they had free elections, the people would vote the islamists out. So the mullahs don’t allow free elections. And this might become the problem in Egypt, Turkey, and Libya as well.

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blight August 30, 2011 at 8:50 am

Ironically, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a western slogan. You're obviously saying it in English?

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Reuben August 30, 2011 at 8:06 am

Gratitude for Turkey? I was under the impression they sat this one out, again?

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paperpushermj August 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm

We the Hoi Polloi will never know what the real interest where/are that got Nato namely Italy,France,The UK and The USA to move against Libya at this time. Only one thing has that much power to Move Government to such reckless action with no apparent benefit to themselves. MONEY and a lot of it

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Mat August 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

hahaha as if airpower didnt prove to be failing enough .From my ponit of view Libia campaign is a perfect a proof of limitations of airpower. You could bomb that place for nex couple of years but without some wild firing by guys in DIY technicals on the ground nothing would realy happen .Remember how Sadam or bin laden were found ,by inteligence on the ground ,airpower couldnt find and destroy number of tanks and even scuds that were still active in Tripoli,and 1.7mio $ is kind of a small bounty i think sadams was 25mio$

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Ben August 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Of course you can't win a war by airpower alone, but you sure as hell can limit what your opponent can do if he's got to worry about getting his face shot off every time he comes out of the shade. I don't think you're giving our Air Force enough credit. Their primary role is to secure the airspace and provide close air support to those on the ground, and they've been doing an outstanding job on both.

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Melcyna August 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm

airpower is a force multiplier,

it was, and always is… no one ever suggested they are to be a standalone force. No one expected the airstrikes to finish that war, but they were sent partly because the force on the ground (the rebels) were deemed significant enough that airpower should be able to give the ragtag rebels enough advantage to compensate the equipment of gadhafi’s forces… which it did, they obliterated a good chunk of heavy armor and position of his forces and forced his men to switch to lighter vehicles or otherwise moving under disguise and cover to avoid being blown to smithereens.

that, gave the rebels the advantage as it means they are not pitched straight against tanks and heavily armed posts or fortified position often and instead they fight against forces who are largely equipped not much better than they are.

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Mastro August 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm

If it wasn't for the NATO planes the Qaddaffi loyalists would have mowed down the rebels with Artillery and tank fire. We blew them up real good.

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STemplar August 26, 2011 at 6:21 am

Remember how Zarqawi was killed? By a 500lb JDAM lobbed from an F16. Remember how the Serbs decided to leave Kosovo? They said uncle because they were tired of bombs from the air. Remember how they agreed to the Dayton accords in Bosnia? Same thing. Airpower has its place. It cant accomplish everything, but it can accomplish alot.

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PMI August 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Your memory needs work. The Serbs didn't come to the table until the possibility of facing NATO ground troops became a reality. The air war was generally ineffective.

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STemplar August 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

NATO troops became a possibility, we will never know, because with air power alone and some talk from the Russians they relented.

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PMI August 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

You are incorrect. It was the threat of ground troops that brought them to the table in Dayton. That is first hand information it is not speculation.

Lance August 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Waste our time or Britons time going after a man who know probably lives in a cave. While helping Islamic rebel terrorist take power real smart NATO.

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blight August 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Contrary to what you think, not all of "them" live in caves. Some Muslims live in houses, and can count, and wear shoes.

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blight August 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm

With that logic, we wouldn't have invaded Afghanistan, and OBL would be sitting pretty. Oh no, cant let them "Islamic rebels" depose the Taliban…

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Tad August 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I'll bet he's hiding in a hole in the ground…

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Morty August 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm

We have to do what we did to the Germans in WWII, Bomb their Cities till there's nothing left.

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blight August 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Then what the hell is the point of the intervention? To kill Muslims because ATK wants new bomb contracts?

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Yoss August 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm

The Royal Marines are commandos. The SAS are not.

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Guest August 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm

The word "commando" in English is a general term that can be used to describe specialized assault units, such as the SAS. It may not be the most orthodox word, but it fits.

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Guest August 26, 2011 at 4:37 am

In military terms, The SAS are not commandos. Whether the SBS are commandos I don't know.

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STemplar August 26, 2011 at 6:25 am

The original term commando is generic. The use of the term in the UK was attached to the army first and evolved into the SAS, so yes the SAS are commandos. The Royal Marines organized their units as commandos, but the original modern term was applied to British army units.

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ms6 August 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Don't care how it is done, just kill him already.

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paperpushermj August 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Hope they don't find him so future Generations of Libya's don't read in their history Books how their Country was invaded by Crusader Countries to Murder the Libyan Leader.

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Tim August 26, 2011 at 7:23 am

Really ? I hope they find him , torture him so he reveals where his secret funds are which we can transfer back to the Bank of England to cover the costs. Also I hope we get some damn good Oil contracts .

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paperpushermj August 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Really to the really: So not only will that Countries History Books say that Crusader Countries not only invaded the Country to Murder their Leader but first Tortured him looking to steal their Gold and oil. You prepared to live with that ….Really?

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William A. Peterson August 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

Given that the tunnels from his compound lead to the Airport, he's probably left the country… Of course, that's assuming he's smart, which is NOT a safe assumption!

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blight August 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Not sure if the airport is the way out for Gaddafi. Especially considering any flight would be into the teeth of NATO.

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paperpushermj August 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Finally We Have A War For Oi lhttp://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/201182511546451332.html

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STemplar August 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

Dayton was Bosnia, not Kosovo, do your own fact checking.

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