On Mar. 31, 2011, in my debrief “Operation Unified Protector (was Odyssey Dawn) explained (Day 13)” I used the following words:

Furthermore, it seems that the bad weather affecting the area of operations rendering targets identification difficult. Admiral Mike Mullen said that the biggest problem in the last 3 or 4 days was the weather as they were not able “to see through the weather or get through the weather to be able to do this kind of identification”. Honestly speaking, I’ve not seen any picture showing overcast conditions with complete cloud cover.

Something that appears also on the US DoD website’s article (available here: http://www.defense.gov//news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63393) in the following way:

Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier appeared before the House Armed Services Committee in what was a full day of testimony about the U.S. role in Libya.

Coalition forces had to halt air operations over Libya due to bad weather for the past two days, causing rebel forces to retreat from areas they’d gained since operations began March 19, Mullen said.

In order to investigate on this topic, I used sat24.com to see if I could get the images of the cloud cover in the last few days. I browsed the archive and found what I was looking for. And it is quite interesting. I don’t think that you need a deep knowledge of meteorology to see that the bad weather over Libya wasn’t so bad (especially for the type of aircraft and weapons systems used in Unified Protector). Anyway, here’s an image I built to give you the possibility to draw your own conclusions. Was the bad weather the reason for the lack of airstrikes? In my opinion, No!

Click on the image to open it.


  1. I saw a video of a huge sandstorm in Libya, i dont suppose these show up on the images of Africa. This was shown on Libyan state tv, reportedly showing that god was against the rebels…

    This doesnt necessarily explain everything, but it would seem impossible to indentify targets on the ground in this area.

    • Hi Tony,
      thank you, really interesting. The sandstorm might have affected some areas, not an entire region. The weird thing is that in all TV reports and photographs taken in the areas of Misratah, Sirte, Tripoli, etc, were airstrikes could be expected, weather was fine.

  2. Absolutely, David. The pause in airstrikes, as I tweeted, was dictated from above by diplomatic efforts to destabilize Qaddafi gov’t by defections. It seems to have yielded some successes.
    I think the weather is ‘clearing’ so airstrikes will resume.

  3. @RaphiRS
    Maybe, but it is important to note that these people who want to defect have crossed into Tunesia a few days ago, at that time the rebels where just outside Sirte. So one has to wonder that the news of rebels just outside of Sirte may have triggered their travel to Tunesia.

    Furthermore the airstrikes havent been completely stopped. Wednesday there where airstrikes near Brega and i red also about airstrikes in Dernah.

    Therefore i think the stop in airstrikes had more to do with tactical reasons. When the rebels where just outside of Sirte, the coalition was confronted with a problem:

    Start bombing targets inside Sirte? Rebels where not strong enough to take Sirte, even with some succesfull airstrikes there was very little chance to be succesfull. By stopping the airstrikes, rebels where forced to retreat. Gadaffi forces moved out in pursuit, by letting them come to Brega, now airstrikes can hit supply-lines + troops, thus maximalizing the effect of airstrikes in weakening Gadaffi-forces. At the same time this gave the chance for rebels to clean up their act and launch counter-attack with their best forces.

  4. Let’s hope that the coalition forces are not playing games with the Libyan people by trying to pressure the TNC in Libya to accept what they would not do so if they are weaker .

  5. LOOOOOOL. You are so right.
    We have sandstorms in Kuwait, all the time, just check youtube for our latest one, we did have zero visibility but truth be told, these last hours rather than days.
    Living in the desert-we do have blowing dust- frequently but not enough to reduce visibility.
    I love how the skynews reporters are reporting with blue skies and sun shining…as usual another lie by the us government… Bad weather- ppfffft

Comments are closed.