PM 'accidental hero' to Libyans
Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy became "accidental heroes" in the Libyan conflict, according to a report.
An analysis by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) of the operation said the success of Nato air strikes relied on "improvisation" and "good luck" as well as military prowess.
Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy received a rapturous reception when they addressed a crowd in Benghazi last week. Their visit, to demonstrate support for the fledgling government in Libya, came less than a month after the final overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
However, the pair had been left "politically exposed" after the US pulled out of the operation, according to Rusi.
Professor Michael Clarke, director general of the think-tank and a contributor to the report, said: "Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy became accidental heroes in a civil war, justified - unlike most civil wars - on grounds of principle.
"Like all military operations, this operation was more messy and ambiguous than politicians like to admit. In this particular case, it reflected a number of new, and sometimes novel, political and military elements."
The allied operation overcame "big political risks" as well as "the improvised use of weapon systems and ambiguous command arrangements" to find success, the report said. However, the mission has raised questions about the Strategic Defence and Security Review, according to Rusi.
Commenting on the report, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said the Libyan operation proved that the right choices had been made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
He said: "The Royal Navy, Army and RAF have all reacted superbly to the recent events in Libya which, in turn have demonstrated that the Government's decision to adopt an adaptable posture with flexible armed forces was correct."
He went on: "From the very beginning, the UK has been at the forefront of the military operation to protect Libyan civilians and our armed forces have had considerable success in doing so working as part of a Nato-led alliance."