Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Darfur Part 2

I decided to amplify on my fantasy plan for Darfur. But first, I want to answer a comment from my friend Eddy from Live From The FDNF. Here's the comment:

Perhaps a correction?

"Opening of LOC from Ethiopia to refugee camps in
northwest Darfur"

Perhaps you mean Libya or Chad? Ethiopia is on the eastern side
of Sudan, near Eastern Sudan, where its likely the next ethnic cleansing
campaign will unfold if the rebellion there begins to eat into Sudan's oil
revenues.


I actually thought about Chad, Lybia, and Egypt, but a lifeline line of communication (LOC) that extends from Djibouti through Ethiopia to Darfur made more sense.

Why not Lybia? Although Qadafi has toned it down quite a bit in the last couple of years, he is still not our friend or ally. Operations in Darfur will require a significant US presence in the countries where the LOCs are established. Lybia is a predominantly Muslim country, and I did not find a considerable amount of US personnel and assets - to include basing and overflight privileges - in Lybian territory to be a palatable option for obvious force protection issues.

Why not Chad? One word: landlocked. We want to be able to get quite a bit of aid, personnel, and materiel into Darfur. We want to be able to use the port facilities in Djibouti, where the US already has a presence, to bring in large shipments beyond what we would be able via airlifts to Chad. Additionally, Chad is also having some problems of its own.

Why not Egypt? If we can go through Djibouti, Ethiopia, and through the mostly non-Muslim southern part of Sudan, why even consider Egypt? We would have to transverse pretty much the entire country of Egypt from ports in the north (or east) and then enter Sudan through the mostly Muslim/Arab north. I did not find the prospects of crossing US troops crossing through Egypt very appealing.

All this illustrates how logistically difficult would be to mount an operation in Darfur. Add to that, the fact that Sudan falls under the CENTCOM AOR. CETCOM already has its hands full with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc., to embark in yet another relatively large-scale operation in Darfur. The American public would just not support it. Especially when there is so little awareness of Darfur in the US and no clear strategic value to have a presence in the region.

Intervention in Darfur by the US military is highly unlikely. We are already involved in counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Janjaweed could very well become the next insurgency we fight if we end up intervening in Darfur. Victory in Darfur would require far more than suppression or destruction of the Sudanese military. Public tolerance for what would essentially be a humanitarian intervention would be very low at this point.

Still, this is a fantasy plan. A mental exercise. A what if. On with the plan.

Players.

Air Campaign

Aim: Establish a no-fly zone over Darfur.

Aim: Neutralize the threat from renegade Sudanese Air Force (SAF) elements with a minimum loss of life.


Comments:
good posts sonny. takes some courage to talk about this stuff. i'm somewhat surprised to see you didn't mention the catch 22 with the beja in e. sudan... if the shooting dies down and negotiations produce some sort of provincial autonomy (which seems almost requisite at this point) won't the beja problem immediately reignite? that's another way of saying, if you solve darfur, even in the limited scope as you propose, don't you also open a much deeper, possibly worse wound?
 
The sad truth is that Sudan is not a viable nation, at least not with the crop of leaders it has now. Better to let it fall apart in some type of structured process... ditto for Nigeria.

We cannot insist on holding together these countries that are always bursting at the seams with ethnic, religious and political violence.

Protect Dar Fur, and wait for the Southern Sudanese to vote for independence in five more years. The Chinese can have their oil from their proxies in the East, we'll have our oil from our proxies in the South and the North will suffer for its political oppression and slaughter of millions of opponents.

Else you get into a situation where you're willing to ignore ethnic cleansing (perhaps even genocide) in Dar Fur, after doing exactly the same thing in the South for 20 years.

Also, please keep in mind that the conflict in the East will provoke a similar, perhaps even harsher response (as the regime in Khartoum will be emboldened by the impotence of the major players) from the regime.
 
We have to blow the dust off the manuals describing the long-lost art of the punitive expedition.

What's wrong with a well-planned, short-term fierce bombing campaign to wipe out the Sudanese Air Force, the Janjaweed camps and other Sudanese military bases and assets known to have been utilized in the ethnic cleansing?

Coincide that with a spec ops mission to snatch key players in the Sudanese intelligence community and Janjaweed COC. If they want them back, they call off their blatant attempt to overthrow the government of Chad, an act of agression which I think should be answered quite forcefully in today's day and age.

The moment Sudan succeeds in overthrowing the gov't of Chad in order to trap the Dar Fur refugees, you can kiss false hopes of peace and prosperity in Africa goodbye. Every dimwit militia, regime and terror group is going to look at that festering show of worldwide impotence and spread that kind of misery and slaughter around Africa.
 
Federalist X,

Thanks for the comment. Catch 22 is a good way to describe many of the military operations in which we'll be involved in the 21st century. We go in and "solve" one problem then other perhaps deeper, older problems resurface. There are so many factors in just considering the different players in the region that it would take a book (not a series of blog posts) to simply describe who these players are, their history and the relationships between each other. Part of why we might never intervene in Darfur in the near future is the fact that our troops would be in the middle of a very complex situation, with factions from different ethnicities fighting each other while we try to conduct stabilization operations. We are already doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan. To go into Darfur and get ourselves in the middle of another mess is probably not a wise course of action at this point. My posts are a way for me to illustrate this difficulties. The plan looks simple, but there are many complicating factors lurking between the lines. Thanks for bringing up the Beja. I did not consider the Beja factor to the fullest.

Eddie,

You are right about Sudan not being a viable nation. Again, many of our future interventions will probably be "against" non-viable nations or I should say "elements" within non-viable nations.

I like your quote: "We have to blow the dust off the manuals describing the long-lost art of the punitive expedition."

I don't particularly think punitive expeditions are a lost art (at least in the USAF). In fact, setting up an expeditionary presence in a remote area and conduting sporadic air strikes from the remote post (or even from a carrier) is one of the things we can do best, witness Operations Northern and Southern Watch.

Wiping out the SAF would be relatively easy. Taking out some of the Sudanese and Janjaweed leadership (or at least putting them on the run) migth not be so easy (you'll essentially be chasing a bunch of guys running around the African countryside...not an easy task). It is doable. We can take out probably hundreds of those guys, but there will probably be remnants, just like there are still remnanst of the Taliban in Afghanistan. If we simply strike and take out their air force, and kill a bunch of Janjaweed and go after the Sudanese leadership and then leave, the problems of Darfur will not be solved. Airpower alone might not be able to accomplish the job. You might need to have a persistent ground force presence in the area. So you bombed their air force, kill a bunch of their dudes and then your planes go back to base. So what? You need to get aid in there. You need to get security provided by ground troops (not necessarily American troops though). Quite frankly, the more I think about it, the more I think that the people of Darfur are SOL. Which deeply concerns me. Thanks for your comments, Eddie. Your posts on Live From The FDNF were an inspiration to find out more about Darfur. So far, I've barely scratched the surface.
 
I was fantasizing myself for a moment; my idea of a punitive expedition by the USAF would be along the lines of showing the Sudanese that there IS a price for their crimes, and that the US is more than willing to destroy their precious helicopters and jets as punishment for continuing the ethnic cleansing and having the gall to try to invade another country via proxy militias.

IMHO, the Sudanese crossed a line last month with that little adventure in Chad and have to be made to pay, if anything because while we CANNOT fix the Dar Fur problem, we can certainly spread some of the pain around to make the NIF (national islamic front) considerably uncomfortable.

You are absolutely right that the USAF/Navy Aviation are quite adept at punitive expeditions. What I mean is on the political end, we have to recognize that sometimes we should utilize them not to solve a problem or to get heavily involved, but merely to bring the more atrocious of warring parties back to reality. We don't have the manpower or funds to bring peace to twenty Dar Furs, but we do have the capability ("active training") to send a brutal message to those most responsible for the horrors there.

I want to have hope for these people, but I too believe they are SOL. It shames me to admit it, but unless these massive rallies in the USA on Sunday strike a chord with more Americans, I don't see how the political pressure is going to get hot enough to force Bush and Congress to get moving.

Federalist X is quite right that this is a Catch-22 situation, but as most of the crises and problems we face will be Catch-22's (or more aptly, damned if you do, damned if you don't), we have to figure out the situations where we can accomplish some good by using force of arms and where our diplomacy is best utilized.
 
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