Pentagon weighs Libyan training mission

The Pentagon is considering whether to begin a large-scale training mission with Libya, in an effort to help stabilize the security situation in the country. 

The plan under consideration by the White House would have U.S. forces train nearly 8,000 Libyan troops, molding them into a "general purpose" force designed to tackle missions ranging from counter terrorism to basic security operations. 

The American military adviser mission would be part of a larger international training effort for Libya's forces, which include Italian, British and Turkish training units, according to reports in USA Today

In the end, American and allied forces plan to have a 20,000-man Libyan security force in place. 

"We are discussing it with the Libyans," Africa Command spokesman Chuck Prichard told the paper, but added that no decision has been made on where the U.S. training would take place.

American military trainers and advisers have been on the ground in Jordan since March, working with the country's security forces as part of the military-to-military pact between Amman and Washington. 

News reports at the time claimed American forces were using installations in Jordan to train elements of the Syrian opposition, a claim the Pentagon has vehemently denied. 

The North African country has been engulfed in turmoil since the fall of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. 

Since then, al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups have sought to take advantage of the power vacuum created by Gadhafi's death and the interim government's struggle to reassert control over the country.

Those tensions came to a head in September 2012, when Islamic militants launched an attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. 

News of a possible Libyan advise and assist mission comes as top U.S. military leaders are weighing a similar mission in Syria

In October, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said U.S. forces would be well equipped to handle that mission in Syria. 

“We’ve got incredible experience at building partners and building military and police formations," Dempsey said, referring to U.S.-led advise and assist missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

However the four-star general was quick to point out discussions on a U.S. training mission in Syria are still preliminary.