In an article on the Libyan War on March 22, I predicted the war would grow in scope, air power wouldn't win it, divisions in the Western alliance would worsen, that Gaddafi would change his tactics, and that this meant that the West would introduce ground troops. This has almost all happened. In Senate testimony, an American general says the war is stalemated (I doubt that, but air power hasn't won it), Gaddafi has indeed altered tactics, and the coalition could erode if ground troops are introduced. The article mentions American CIA teams in operation on the ground, and we had a report on Feb. 28 of forces from the U.S., Great Britain, and France already being in Libya.
General Ham says the U.S. may consider ground troops and/or an international ground force even though it has drawbacks. Western aims are (1) get Gaddafi out, (2) set up a new and friendly government, (3) protect Western oil investments, (4) control the revolts and revolutions in nearby oil-producing lands, (5) maintain the dollar as the pricing vehicle for oil, and (6) secure Western influence in North Africa and Africa more generally as opposed to Russian and Chinese interests. If troops are necessary to do this, they'll use troops no matter what Gates or Obama have said. This entire regional turmoil, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia, is not over. Its importance is as great or greater than the American loss of control over Iran in 1979, and that is the factor suggesting that the American leadership will exert whatever power it takes. This of course depends heavily on the decisions of one man: Emperor Obama. He tends toward international coalitions as a cover. He tends to compromise between the harder line Clinton and softer line Gates. He will be looking seriously at all his military and political options, just as General Ham says, due to the high stakes for the aims of American Empire.