American military bosses have warned that Moammar Gaddafi’s army remains very strong, despite hundreds of allied strikes on Libyan targets by western coalition forces.
Speaking before a Congressional committee, Admiral Mike Mullen said Gaddafi's troops have ten times the firepower of the rebels fighting him.
Mullen specified that rebels have only 1,000 military-trained fighters, far below the might of Gaddafi’s military complex.
However, Mullen noted that western air strikes have destroyed’ between 20 percent and 25 percent of Gaddafi's military power.
We have actually fairly seriously degraded his military capabilities. That does not mean he's about to break, from a military standpoint, because that's not the case, he said.
Mullen gravely warned that Gaddafi will kill as many (people) as he must to crush the rebellion.”
The civil war in Libya appears to have degenerated into a stalemate, although pro-Gaddafi forces have recently made some impressive gains, snatching a string of coastal cities from rebel hands.
The perceived growing weakness of the Libyan opposition has led some western power, notably the US and UK, to start considering the possibility of sending arms to the rebels. However, both NATO and Turkey are stringly7 opposed to this option.
Meanwhile, at the same congressional hearing, Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary insisted the US would put no boots on the ground in Libya. (Prior to the military campaign against Libya, Gates had frequently expressed his skepticism about imposing a no-fly zone).
Gates also asserted that NATO is in charge of the Libyan operations, suggesting the US involvement will gradually ease.
Deposing the Gaddafi regime, as welcome as that eventuality would be, is not part of the military mission, he said.
Gates refused to comment on reports that the CIA currently has operatives on the ground din Libya.
However, he expressed his cynicism about the capability of Libyan rebel warriors, citing that the rebel forces remain disparate and scattered.