It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. On December 14, some 20 US special forces troops were sent to Libya to fight ISIS, in a deployment the administration apparently had no intention of telling anyone about. If everything went well, we probably still wouldn’t know about it.
Instead, the Libyan Air Force publicized the arrival of the out-of-uniform but heavily-armed troops, and local commanders quickly expelled the US troops, turning just another little secret war into a particularly embarrassing incident.
And it’s one the US seems increasingly frustrated about, as it’s not just the “miscommunication” they say happened that day, but the overall lack of a compliant and reliable faction for the US to claim its military operations in Libya are centered at helping.
The US is eager to extend the ISIS war into Libya, but without some at least nominal ally, there’s no way they can continue the strategy of tiny escalations of a few dozen fighters at a time, building the war without the big initial deployment that needs an actual debate.