While U.S. military involvement in Libya has been limited to strikes from the air and sea, analysts say it's possible that U.S. Special Forces soldiers could become involved in the conflict.
Retired Gen. Dan McNeill, a former commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps, said he trusts the Obama administration's assertion that there will be no ground invasion.
But analysts say the use of Special Forces soldiers is an option.
Their use would represent a "middle ground" between a full invasion and the current airstrikes and would help bolster rebel fighters by providing weapons and expertise, said David Gray, a retired Air Force officer and professor of international security at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Fayetteville State University.
"It is a distinct option," Gray said.
Fort Bragg is home to the Army's Special Operations Command, Special Forces Command and the 3rd Special Forces Group. The 3rd Special Forces Group focuses on operations in U.S. Africa Command, which includes Libya.
Michael O'Hanlon, a national security and defense policy expert with the Brookings Institution in Washington, said Special Forces soldiers would be uniquely qualified to deliver weapons and training to rebel groups, something that he said already has been discussed.
O'Hanlon and Gray agree that a conventional ground war is unlikely, and U.S. officials have repeatedly downplayed that possibility.
"It's not out of the question, but it is extremely unlikely," O'Hanlon said.
Gray said whether ground forces become involved depends on the ultimate goals of the recent airstrikes.
If U.S., NATO or U.N. leaders are set on ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, then troops may be necessary, Gray said.
"What is our objective? If it's getting Gadhafi out, will the air campaign be enough? I'm very suspicious," Gray said. "I'm not confident or sure that's going to be enough."
Gray said he has been surprised by the level of commitment from U.S. forces in Libya, which continue to bombard Gadhafi's defenses with airstrikes and cruise missiles fired from offshore.
"It's more than I expected," he said. "I wouldn't have anticipated involvement."
Whether further involvement is needed, Gray said, will depend on the capabilities of the rebels fighting government forces in Libya.
Tribal politics - similar to what has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan - also will play a role, he said.
"Where are the allegiances for the various tribes? Can they pull together?" Gray said.
In any event, he said, efforts to remove Gadhafi may be hampered by an international community wary about any invasive force.
"If the object is just to obtain air superiority, then we've done that, check," Gray said. "Will any U.S. troops be on the ground? I'm not sure the international community is ready to put troops on the ground."
O'Hanlon believes there are other scenarios in which ground forces may be necessary.
He said those include one in which rebels are being routed and the international community pushes for ground forces to help protect rebel cities. Another, he said, is if troops are needed as part of a peacekeeping force.
"I'm not predicting that this would happen," O'Hanlon said. "But it's possible."
McNeill said if ground troops are needed, Fort Bragg soldiers will be ready and willing to respond.
A deployment to Libya would be a small concern for a Fort Bragg soldier who is trained and conditioned to respond quickly to international events, McNeill said.
"It's nothing new for them," he said. "I don't doubt that there's concern among families, but [for soldiers] this is the way of life."