The Daily Beast offers up this:
The U.S. military has spent about $1 billion so far and played a far larger role in Libya than it has acknowledged, quietly implementing an emerging "covert intervention" strategy that the Obama administration hopes will let America fight small wars with a barely detectable footprint.
$1 billion so far would be the incremental cost of the mission. “Sunk” costs (personnel, ships, warplanes, etc.) cannot possibly be a part of the tally. And the “covert intervention” strategy collapses under a bit of scrutiny as well.
Officially, President Obama handed the lead role of ousting Muammar Gaddafi to the European members of NATO. For this he was criticized by Washington war hawks who suggested that Europeans working with a ragtag team of Libyan rebels was a recipe for stalemate, not victory.
But behind the scenes, the U.S. military played an indispensable role in the Libya campaign, deploying far more forces than the administration chose to advertise.
If true, what would be the purpose of understating the scope (and especially the profile) of U.S. participation? To enhance the self-esteem of NATO or the participating gulf nations?
Actually, the Administration’s purpose of understating the scope and profile (the “covert intervention” strategy) is likely to be pure domestic politics. Otherwise, overthrowing an evil and threatening dictator in oil rich Libya in 2011 is little different than overthrowing an evil and threatening Saddam Hussein in oil rich Iraq in 2003 (except the 2003 war was authorized by the U.S. Congress).