The military remained the most serious threat to the Qadhafi
regime. By March 1987, there were signs of disaffection among
the officers. In part, this was the result of mounting casualties
and setbacks in the Chad war. Such discontent was illustrated
by the defection to Egypt in early March of six air force personnel,
including a lieutenant colonel. Upon landing at Abu Simbel airfield
in Upper Egypt, the airmen denounced Qadhafi's rule and requested
Qadhafi's calls for a people's army that would eventually replace
the professional military evidently disturbed the armed forces.
Furthermore, the revolutionary committees often increased their
power at the military's expense. In addition, the military resented
the revolutionary committees' interference in national security
affairs. It was reported, for example, that brief armed clashes
between the two groups took place when certain missile positions
were unable to respond to the United States air attacks in April
1986 because revolutionary committee members who were supposed
to man them could not be found.
That Qadhafi had entrusted the revolutionary committees with
the vital mission of manning air defense positions underscored
the extent to which he has deployed them to counterbalance the
power of the armed forces. It indicated that Qadhafi had learned
one vital lesson from the often-turbulent Middle East politics,
namely that the military has masterminded most coups d'čtat. In
measure to forestall possible coup attempts, military commanders
were frequently rotated or forced into early retirement. In 1984,
for example, about seventy senior officers were obliged to retire.
Despite such precautions, the military had managed to stage most
of the attempts against Qadhafi since 1976. Most experts believed
that the military was the group most likely to topple Qadhafi.
Data as of 1987