Too little is known about Libya's rebels and they remain too fragmented for the United States to get seriously involved in organizing or training them, let alone arming them, U.S. and European officials say.
U.S. and allied intelligence agencies believe NATO's no-fly zone and air strikes will be effective in stopping Muammar Gaddafi's forces from killing civilians and dislodging rebels from strongholds like Benghazi, the officials say.
But the more the intelligence agencies learn about rebel forces, the more they appear to be hopelessly disorganized and incapable of coalescing in the foreseeable future.
U.S. government experts believe the state of the opposition is so grave that it could take years to organize, arm and train them into a fighting force strong enough to drive Gaddafi from power and set up a working government.
The realistic outlook, U.S. and European officials said, is for an indefinite stalemate between the rebels -- supported by NATO air power -- and Gaddafi's forces. (read more)