As Khalifa Haftar’s militia pushes deeper into Tripoli, Americans in the capital to help the UN-backed government are being whisked to safety.
Factions of the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by hardline General Khalifa Haftar, have made a thrust into Tripoli and have claimed to have taken control of Tripoli International Airport, which hasn’t been anywhere near fully functional since 2014.
The UN-backed Libyan government calls Tripoli home, whereas Haftar has amassed his power largely in the eastern and southern stretches of Libya. Last week, Haftar—who enjoys varying degrees support from the
On Saturday, April 6th, 2019 the UN Security Council demanded Haftar stop his military push into Tripoli and to de-escalate the growing military crisis that could see various militia factions pour into Tripoli for what would be another bloody battle for the war-torn city.
Video has now emerged showing U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft approaching and landing on the beach in the town of Janzour, which is located just a few miles to the west of Tripoli. The LCACs supposedly landed, loaded-up, and left the area. U.S. Marines also likely supported the operation by providing additional security.
An official statement from U.S. Africa Command says that personnel were “relocated” as a result of the deteriorating security situation.
LCACs are heavy-load carrying ship-to-shore conveyors capable of accessing unimproved beaches and loading and offloading as much as 75 tons or hundreds of personnel. As such, they are an ideal solution for rapidly evacuating people and material from coastal areas. Using LCACs instead of helicopters also allows for the elimination of the risk posed by shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles taking down a helicopter—and there are many of those weapons floating around Libya. Considering potentially hostile forces had not reached the coast in that area yet, the threat to the lumbering LCACs was likely low.
It isn’t clear what amphibious ship was launching and recovering the LCACs. The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group was operating in the Arabian Sea as of April 1st and there is no indication that it has pushed through the Suez Canal since. A single San Antonio class amphibious transport dock or a Whidbey Island or Harpers Ferry class landing ship dock could be working as the mothership for the LCACs. Using a local land base is more doubtful as Malta would be the closest possibility, but it would stretch the LCACs range unless auxiliary fuel was carried.