Skip to main content

Commander: U.S. to help train Libyan forces

By Joe Sterling and Barbara Starr, CNN
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Training likely to take place in Europe, official says
  • Training planned for conventional troops and counterterrorism forces
  • The deadly Benghazi attack last year struck a chord with Americans
  • Libya is overwhelmed by militias

(CNN) -- Libya and its fledgling security forces, overwhelmed by militia violence and unrest since the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi two years ago, are going to get some help from the U.S. military, a top American commander said.

Adm. William McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said Saturday the United States will train 5,000 to 7,000 conventional troops as well as counterterrorism forces.

Another U.S. official told CNN the training is likely to take place in Europe once all the details are finalized.

A major challenge will be developing a security force that's not influenced by the well-armed militias that have proliferated in the lawless atmosphere across Libya.

Mourning in Tripoli a day after dozens are killed

"As we go forward to try and find a good way to build up the Libyan security forces so they are not run by militias, we are going to have to assume some risks," McRaven said.

Militia fires on protesters in Libya
Classified Benghazi hearing deatails
Benghazi apology: The response

"As a country, we have to say there is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean record. At the end of the day, it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems."

He made the remarks at a defense forum at the Reagan Presidential Library in California just a day after deadly fighting in the capital, Tripoli, on Friday. State news said at least 43 people were killed and hundreds of others were wounded during clashes.

Popular sentiment against the various militias has been mounting for months in Tripoli and other parts of the country, including the eastern city of Benghazi, which has been gripped by increasing violence, including political assassinations.

The chaos in Libya hit home for Americans after U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on September 11, 2012, in an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

The United States has offered a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in the attack. While U.S. authorities have filed charges in the case, no one has been arrested.

A NATO air campaign helped overthrow Gadhafi two years ago, but ever since there has been widespread unrest and poor security.

"The United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and the European Union have done little to follow through with an effective Libya restructural policy. They have struggled to coordinate support to address the problems with Libya's security sector and justice system," a Human Rights Watch report said in September.

Militias clash in Tripoli after commander's death

Joe Sterling reported and wrote in Atlanta. Barbara Starr reported in Simi Valley, California

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1758 GMT (0158 HKT)
The sights couldn't be sadder: Animals killed or suffering through war in Gaza.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
They are the faces of a community on the run. Photographer Warzer Jaff documents the plight of the Yazidis.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
A cameraman films a massive New York City subway rat charging at him and attacking him. WPIX reports.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT