General Sir David Richards was the head of the British armed forces when the regime change campaign in Libya began. The UK was much more overt about the Libyan War being a regime change operation than the United States with Richards saying at one point, “We are not targeting Gaddafi directly, but if it happened that he was in a command and control centre that was hit by Nato and he was killed, then that is within the rules.”
But now he is questioning whether the whole thing was even a good idea considering how it has empowered Al Qaeda.
Gen Sir David was chief of the defence staff from 2010 until July this year. But he now says the 2011 Nato-led campaign to remove Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 may have helped the proliferation of arms in Africa.
He said that campaign was a tactical success but that the jury was still out on whether it was strategically wise.
General Sir David Richards said Britain needed to learn from what it had done “and failed to do”.
He also questioned whether the Nato operation against Libya in 2011 was the right thing to do, suggesting it may have contributed to the spread of arms in the region.
“I do worry very much that sub-Saharan Africa is the next front – in many ways it already is,” Gen Sir David told the BBC.
“We must learn from what we have done and failed to do in other parts of the world in trying to combat this risk and do it pretty quickly or it could become pretty vicious – as if it wasn’t already bad enough.”
Bombing Libya had little to do with reducing risk since there wasn’t even a serious post-regime change plan except to let the militias take over.