Military Troops

Why Are U.S. Troops Still in Libya?

On 27 January, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook confirmed that there was a “small group” of U.S. forces in Libya:

“There have been some U.S. forces in Libya trying to establish contact with forces on the ground,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters Wednesday. “Get a better sense of who the players are, who might be worthy of U.S. support and support from some of our partners going forward.”

Given the factionalized chaos in Libya, this is worrisome enough in itself.  In late 2015, a small group of U.S. special forces operators was promptly outed, on arrival, by the Libyan air force. Knowing that our men are still prowling Libya looking for local factions to trust shouldn’t give us a warm, fuzzy feeling.

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The day after Cook’s comments, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stressed that the U.S. had not decided whether to launch military action in Libya.  Said Carter:

We’re watching the situation very carefully, and there’s a lot going on there right now. But we haven’t made any decisions to take military action there.

Meanwhile, John Kerry met with coalition partners in Rome multiple times in January and early February, lending his voice to the coalition consensus that the recognized national government of Libya – which is nominally headquartered in Tobruk, but which actually operates out of Tunisia – needed bolstering.  With a growing ISIS presence on the western coast, Libya was in danger of becoming a failed state, said Kerry.

Nevertheless, the U.S. had no plans to intervene militarily against ISIS in Libya, according to Kerry.  Interestingly, Western media didn’t emphasize that point from Kerry’s comments, which were recorded in the widely used AP story from 2 February.  But non-Western media picked up on it.


J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace.  Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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