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On Qatar and Libya 13, April 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa, Qatar.
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve penned an article in Foreign Policy looking at Libya and Qatar. The tantalising strap line/little summary of the article is

Could tiny Qatar send ground forces to Libya?

And before anyone tries to sling me out of Qatar, can I point out that this is a mooting article; a thought piece. I’ve not been listening in at the windows of the Army HQ here. Honest.


1. Ahmed - 13, April 2011

I went on Foreign Policy and saw your article on the front page. Brought a chuckle out. Congratulations on the exposure.
Good article. One thing I’d like to point out. I’ve noticed that you have mentioned the small size of Qatar’s ground forces (~8,500). You entertain the idea of a plausible deployment of a contingent of “elite” Qatari forces. If one looks at the United States Army we see in the ~550,000 man force, there is something around ~10,000 of what we’ll consider special forces/commandos. Simple mathematics show what a little % of the total force is “quality” enough to be considered for such difficult missions. One must also bear in mind that there is a huge support National Guard and reserve force also, these personnel also have the opportunity to try out for the SF units. Then consider how much bigger the population of the USA is and the % of Qatari’s in Qatar. We reach the point that we understand that there cannot be many “special forces” in Qatar by global standards even if all the fittest and most physically capable of Qatari’s joined the military. Hence I would not entertain the notion of a Qatari deployment. Any deployment would require combat and combat service support units. Qatar’s army, due to size constraints hardly has enough of these as it is. Deployment abroad has logistical problems as well. The vast majority of GCC armies are mechanized due to the nature of desert warfare and the vast amount of money they have to flash around. In essence my rant amounts to the following points:
1) Qatar’s special forces are not “special” in the same manner we talk about the personnel of countries such as the USA/Russia/UK/France etc. Hence we cannot expect them to act like an American Army Special Forces “Green Berets” ODA (Operation Detachment Alpha) to train and assist rebels.
2) Qatar does not have previous experience in overseas contingency operations particularly hence any deployment is not feasible, particularly of the small size which is only plausible. Without working in co-operation with other forces which provide logistics, security, combat support, combat service support and partner combat units.
3) Deployment of armoured units is not feasible due to logistics transport and servicing reasons. Besides that armoured units are only useful in formations of a particular size. They must also be accompanied by mechanized infantry to protect against RPG fire and small arms fire.
Of course, in the framework of an international mission, Qatar’s contribution can be very valuable. However, we must also remember the UNSCR which mentioned that there cannot be an occupying force.

thegulfblog.com - 13, April 2011

Very interesting. Many thanks for the comment. You certainly have a point, that’s for sure. Yet, nuisances like practicality and expense and man-power rarely get in the way of a Qatari initiative…

2. D Lep - 14, April 2011

Good piece, Mr Roberts. Congrats.

thegulfblog.com - 14, April 2011

Shukran jazeelan.

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