US Forces in Libya: Less Ships, More Planes

Officials Tout Reduction in Ships as Sign War Is 'Scaling Back'

The Obama Administration has been touting a planned reduction in the number of ships involved in the Libyan War as both a sign that the war is going well and that it is being scaled back, but indications are that it is really a transition to a more aggressive style of war.

That’s because as the handful of ships are being taken out of the force, yet more warplanes are being added in. Though the initial salvo was largely ship-based missiles, the war has since transitioned to air strikes from the planes.

The Pentagon confirmed as much on Friday, saying that the plan is to escalate the number of attacks in urban areas across Libya, using air power and in particular helicopter gunships. The move comes as the no-fly zone continues uncontested, and the administration looks for new goals to tack on to the war.

The twin shifts in power put the Obama Administration in a familiar position, with the ability to claim either escalation or descalation, depending on the audience they are talking to. It will be interesting to see which take the president uses in his Monday speech.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.