British military sources are “deeply concerned” about the government’s handling of Libya, especially the question of whether killing Moammar Qaddafi is a legitimate objective of the intervention:
The Chief of the Defence staff, Gen Sir David Richards, went out of his way to insist Gaddafi was “absolutely not” a target for military action. Speaking after a meeting in Downing Street, he added: “It’s not allowed under the UN resolution and it’s not something I want to discuss any further.”
Richards said it was crucial not to fall into the “propaganda trap that Colonel Gaddafi is trying to set us”.
[. . . ]
Richards intervened in an issue causing increasing disquiet in military circles shortly after William Hague, the foreign secretary, declined to answer whether Gaddafi was a target of British, French, and US bombs and missiles.
One well-placed Whitehall source described the political thinking on targeting Gaddafi as “muddled”. He added: “But the thinking in the MoD is not. Defence is clear. Gaddafi is not a target.”