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Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:53PM GMT
According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the United States is preparing to deploy additional forces on the ground in Libya to “secure conventional arms storage sites” as well as to try to track down missing surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
In the wake of the opposition invasion of Tripoli, large arms depots across the western half of the nation were looted, and it is estimated that some 20,000 shoulder-launched SAMs were among what had gone missing, many of them wound up on the arms markets in neighboring nations. Antiwar
Currently the U.S. State Department has one official on the ground in Libya, as well as five contractors who specialize in “explosive ordinance disposal”, all working with the Transitional National Council to find the looted missiles, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters. ABC News
“We expect to deploy additional personnel to assist the TNC as they expand efforts to secure conventional arms storage sites,” Carney said. “We’re obviously at a governmental level — both State Department and at the UN and elsewhere — working with the TNC on this.” ABC News
Though weapons of all shapes and sizes were looted, the shoulder-launched SAMs are of particular concern to the U.S., as they could pose a threat to U.S. warplanes the world over now that they are out of the warehouses and in general circulation. Antiwar
20,000 is a lot of missiles too. One rights group cautioned that the SAMs coming out of Libya were enough to turn all of northern Africa into a no-fly zone. Though some regional groups are likely to be keen on acquiring many of these weapons, it is unlikely they will be restricted to northern Africa either, with groups in Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan likely keen on their own acquisitions