Boots on the ground: U.S. Army airlifting aid to Libyan rebels

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Libyan rebels marching

A Libyan rebel waves his country's former flag, now used by the rebellion, during a parade along a seaside promenade in their stronghold of Benghazi. (Marwan Naamani / AFP via Getty Images )

The U.S. is putting thousands of boots on the ground in Libya, but American soldiers won’t be wearing them.

The Army has sent $5.2 million in non-lethal equipment to the Libyan rebels in Benghazi, and it is about to ship another $1 million’s worth, according to an Army directive obtained by Army Times.

The latest shopping list of items to be shipped from the Army depot in New Cumberland, Pa., to Benghazi, includes 3,900 t-shirts, 1,450 undershirts, 5,000 belts and 5,414 pairs of socks.

The order includes 13,000 pairs of tan combats boots of various sizes whose total value equals $365,708.  (There may be some “boots on the ground” that are worn by covert operatives but that’s another story.)

Here’s the t-shirt slice of the list:

– 2,000 tan t-shirts (M) for $9,500

– 1,500 tan t-shirts (L) for $7,125

– 400 athletic t-shirts (XL) for $1,900

– 30 undershirts (XXS) for $975

– 1,000 undershirts (XL) for $3,250

– 100 undershirts (XXL) for $325

– 50 undershirts (XXXL) for $162.50

The memo lists as a point of contact, “ABD AL SALAM AL HASSI.” That looks an awful lot like high-level Libyan defector, Gen. Abdul Salam Mahmood al-Hassi. Al-Hassi, the former commander of the Libyan military’s special operations forces defected in February, calling on his troops to join the fight against Gadhafi, and “protect the lives of the Libyan people and their property.”

The goods are to be flown by Army Materiel Command to Harrisburg International Airport, and then onto Benina International Airport via commercial tenders controlled by U.S. Transportation Command.

Which agency is footing the bill for the flights is still up in the air, if you’ll excuse the pun.  “The executive agent billpayer for the airlift for stocks destined for Libya has not been determined,” the memorandum states.

The services are going to split the check on the handling costs. Once the operation is complete, the Joint Staff will work with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates playdates with foreign militaries, to “cross-level all equipment, expenses and requirements, including packing, crating, handling and transportation costs across all services.”

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment on future aid to the Libyan Transitional National Council, but she said that by late June, DoD had spent $12.5 million of the $25 million the president has authorized.

In May, DoD shipped to Benghazi 120,000 Halal Ready-to-Eat meals worth about $1 million. In mid-June, a second shipment of non-lethal aid was delivered including medical supplies, boots, tents, uniforms, and personal protective gear. These were all from DoD stocks.

In an April memo, President Obama authorized up to $25 million’s worth of “nonlethal commodities and services from the inventory and resources of any agency of the United States” to assist the rebels and protect civilians.”

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4 Comments

  1. Does anyone see what door is openin up here? First non lethal aid (what in thw hell does that really mean?), then some unis, a few boots (I especially like the instructions for boot tying detail-it displays our humanitarian caring side), and soon the aid will include a few advisors or something with a pc cliche nametag. I read about this story before didn’t I?
    We need to stay out. We lost a young 101st Spc just last week-two weeks before his marriage. Enough is enough.

  2. Does anyone see what door is openin up here? First non lethal aid (what in the hell does that really mean?), then some unis, a few boots (I especially like the instructions for boot tying detail-it displays our humanitarian caring side), and soon the aid will include a few advisors or something with a pc cliche nametag. I read about this story before didn’t I?
    We need to stay out. We lost a young 101st Spc just last week-two weeks before his marriage. Enough is enough.

  3. Dominic Caraccilo on

    The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored and we are a large part of why that has happened.

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