by Jason Ditz
A US military ground operation began and ended without much fanfare earlier this week in Libya, the Pentagon admitted today, in a shockingly bungling effort to secretly establish a presence of US special forces in the country.
A group of about 20 US soldiers, armed with assault rifles and bulletproof vests, but conspicuously not wearing uniforms, showed up in the Wattiya airbase just south of Tripoli Monday. Pictures of the US troops were published by the Libyan Air Force on their Facebook page.
The Air Force pointed out the troops arrived with no coordination and apparently no approval, though the Pentagon claims to have gotten an okay from some government faction or other, but apparently not the right ones, as local commanders quickly demanded that the US troops leave, and the Pentagon says they did to “avoid conflict.”
Pentagon officials further claimed the deployment was a “training mission” aimed at enhancing ties with the Libyan National Army, but didn’t explain why they sent the troops in wholly unannounced, nor why the troops were clearly combat-ready but out of uniform.
Recent conferences on Libya among NATO members, including one earlier this month in Rome, have had several nations talking up the idea of sending troops. It is surprising to learn, then, that the US went first, bungling their way into Libya and almost immediately getting chased out.