Former US Libyan commander: ground troops may be necessary

General Carter Ham, who commanded US forces in Libya until the supposed hand off to NATO, admits that ground troops may be necessary before the fight in Libya is over:

Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers Thursday that added American participation would not be ideal, and ground troops could erode the international coalition and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya.

Ham said the operation was largely stalemated now and was more likely to remain that way since America has transferred control to NATO.

He said NATO has done an effective job in an increasingly complex combat situation. But he noted that, in a new tactic, Muammar Qaddafi's forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging military forces and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.

The use of an international ground force is a possible plan to bolster rebels fighting forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Ham said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Asked if the U.S. would provide troops, Ham said, "I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that's probably not the ideal circumstance, again for the regional reaction that having American boots on the ground would entail."

Duh. The question is despite their necessity at some point, will Obama bite the bullet and commit US troops to save NATO's behind?

My guess is no. Obama's minimal prestige is tied up in keeping America out of it. Even if NATO might be humiliated, I doubt that he would want the US involved any more than it is.

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