Military Policy & Weapons/Unguarded arms

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Question
I am doing a blog on the unguarded Libyan arms and must interview an expert.
My questions are:
1.) What do you believe are the major threats of the weapons being unguarded?
2.) Do you fear the weapons will end up in the wrong hands, such as terrorists?
3.) What solutions would you suggest to guard the weapons?
4.) What is your overall view on the Libyan government's current plan on the weapons?

Answer
I must begin by qualifying my answer as I have not been to Libya and only know what I have seen in the news. I do follow the subject with some interest.

1. The major threat from unguarded weapons is that they will be used by whomever takes possession of them. That could be an ally or an enemy of the United States or some other power in the middle east. Since large governments can easily purchase weapons, the smaller caches are meaningless if they are taken over by an existing government. If they are seized by a militia, civilian or other group they can be very important. An example occurred in Iraq. The US Army bypassed several large munitions bunkers while pushing ahead to secure their objectives and had no plans to guard the munitions dumps or blow them up. When they returned the bunkers were empty. I remember seeing pictures of large stacks of SEMTEX blocks for example and the bunker empty later. It is highly likely that some of these munitions were used by one belligerent against another. It is just as likely that some of these munitions became Improvised Explosive Devices and were used against our own armed forces.

2. The particular abandoned weapons I saw pictures of in the Libyan desert were explosively configured rockets. These would be very useful to terrorists (or revolutionaries) attacking a larger military base. While not accurate, these are the types of weapons that are routinely fired into Israel and into our compounds in Afghanistan. They are powerful enough to take many lives if they hit a populated area such as a mess tent, bunk house, school, etc.

3. Helicopter searches with "boots on the ground" immediately after the rebels took control of the main Libyan territory might have prevented some of these weapons abandoned by the Loyalist forces from falling into uncontrolled hands. I'm sure its too late now. Perhaps dollars for weapons might buy some of them off the streets.

4. I really don't know but I suspect that the coalition of groups that successfully ousted the previous government is too loosely organized to do anything except maybe to guard very large stores of munitions in the cities. While the "rebels" were amazingly successful in their effort given their quick organization, I suspect their may be more loyalty to individual field commanders than a central "government". Some of these units may decide it is wise to resupply themselves. If at some later time they feel that they are a part of the "government" then they could turn in their weapons. If not they might just feel a need to keep back a few, "just in case."

You also must consider that in a destitute economy anything of value can be traded for food, shelter or other necessities by "entrepreneurs". These salesmen may not particularly know or care who is buying what, but only want to feed their families.

I expect that the book is still open on what type of government emerges in Libya. An political science expert on the middle east might have a better explanation for some of your questions.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard Albright  

Military Policy & Weapons

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Richard Albright

Expertise

Questions on chemical weapons, explosive ordnance, environmental cleanup of military bases and ranges.

Experience

Military weapons and antique firearms expert. Remedial Project Manager for 7 years cleaning up world war one's second largest chemical weapons manufacturing site. 1st Lt. USAR Vietnam Era.

Organizations
ASTSWMO Association of State Territory Solid Waste Management Officials ITRC Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council

Publications
Author: Cleanup of Chemical and Explosive Ordnance. Published by Elsevier. Made Science and Technology Best Seller List Geophyisical Prove-Outs for Munitions Response Projects 2004, by Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (64 pages, contributing author). Small Arms Range Technology (SMART II) 2005, by Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (70 pages, contributing author). Technical Guidance-Perchlorate 2005, by Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (70 pages, contributing author).

Education/Credentials
4 degrees, BA, JD, MS, PhD.

Awards and Honors
Cafritz Award 2001 $7500 prize. 3 performance awards signed by current Supreme Court Justice. 1995-1996, Strathmore’s Who’s Who Registry of Business Leaders. 1998-1999, Marquis Who’s Who in Science and Engineering Printed Media: Washingtonian Magazine December 2000, 12 page story two pictures; 2001, July 28, 2001, The Washington Post Picture B-1; Numerous other stories in the Washington Post; Washington Times; The Ohio News Herald; The Kansas City Star; The Northwest Current; Electronic Media: HTB-TV Russia, 3 minutes prime time; CNN-TV; CBC Radio Canada; Subject of Fox 5 story by Melanie Alnwich winning a national Emmy; and, recognition in numerous other news media.

Past/Present Clients
District of Columbia Government

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