Gadhafi's Military Muscle Concentrated In Elite Units Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has deliberately kept his army weak in recent years, but he has bolstered elite forces that are personally loyal to him, say analysts in Italy, the former colonial power in Libya.
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Gadhafi's Military Muscle Concentrated In Elite Units

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Gadhafi's Military Muscle Concentrated In Elite Units

Gadhafi's Military Muscle Concentrated In Elite Units

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And in Italy, intelligence officials are watching a country that used to be an Italian colony. They're examining how much power Gadhafi really has. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports on what they're learning.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: An Italian intelligence report on Gadhafi's military strength was recently presented to parliament.

ALESSANDRO POLITI: We know very little, but we know one thing: his military machinery is not so big.

POGGIOLI: Analyst Alessandro Politi says that after international sanctions on Libya were lifted in 2004, Gadhafi was able to refurbish his country's weapons systems, but fearing a coup, he kept the regular army relatively weak.

POLITI: The real nucleus of his security is around the presidential guards, mercenaries, and few other elite units who were directly controlled by his family and his tribe or his money.

POGGIOLI: Military analyst Carlo Jean says the other elite brigades are composed of members of the Libyan leader's tribe and another tribe loyal to him.

CARLO JEAN: (Through translator) Keep in mind that Gadhafi's tribe, the Gadhafa, is made up of a million people, as is that of the other tribe loyal to him, the Warfala.

POGGIOLI: The Libyan army was demoralized, as was Gadhafi himself. His biographer, Angelo Del Boca, says the Libyan leader felt his people had not understood the utopian project he had laid out in his little green book.

ANGELO DEL BOCA: (Through translator) When I last saw Gadhafi, I asked him how successful his green book had been in Libya. He said sadly it was a total failure. Libya is still dark, not green as I had hoped.

POGGIOLI: Military analyst Carlo Jean.

JEAN: (Through translator) Libya is chock full of weapons, but we don't know how well they're maintained. Today, Ukrainians do the maintenance, but they're not as skilled as the East Germans were during the Cold War.

POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.

INSKEEP: From Cairo, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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