TRIPOLI, Libya – The United States is planning to dispatch dozens of former military personnel to Libya to help track down and destroy surface-to-air missiles from Moammar Gadhafi’s stockpiles that U.S. officials worry could be used by terrorists to take down passenger jets.

The weapons experts are part of a rapidly expanding $30 million program to secure Libya’s conventional weapons in the wake of the most violent conflict to occur in the Arab Spring, according to State Department officials who provided new details of the effort.

Fourteen contractors with military backgrounds have been sent to help Libyan officials, and the U.S. government is looking at sending dozens more. Thousands of pamphlets in Arabic, English and French will be delivered to neighboring countries so border guards can recognize the heat-seeking missiles, the officials said. “We have not seen any … attacks with loose missiles coming out of Libya yet,” said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. But, he added, “We’re working as assiduously as we can to address the threat. It only takes one to make a real difference.”

Gadhafi was one of the world’s top purchasers of the shoulder-fired missiles, buying about 20,000 in the 1970s and 1980s, according to U.S. estimates. While the weapons are of limited effectiveness against modern military aircraft, they still pose a threat to  commercial passenger planes.

Thousands of the missiles were destroyed in NATO bomb attacks on arms depots during the war and hundreds have been recovered by the new government.

But an unknown number were carted off by Libyan rebel groups and civilians who swarmed into unguarded storage areas after Gadhafi’s forces were defeated.

Already, several missiles have been intercepted on the desert road from Libya to Egypt, according to Egyptian officials. Tunisia’s prime minister, Beji Caid Essebsi, said in a recent interview he was so worried about smuggled Libyan weapons that he planned to ask Washington to provide helicopters for border surveillance.

Unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has no troops in Libya who can secure the weapons. President Barack Obama has refused to deploy U.S. military forces to Libya to avoid raising hackles both in the Middle East and in the U.S. Congress.

Some lawmakers, notably House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., have called for using U.S. soldiers to secure the shoulder-fired missiles and Libya’s chemical weapons stocks.

But that task is in the hands of an overstretched Libyan transitional government, which has shown willingness but limited capacity.

“We need help,” Atia al-Mansouri, a military consultant to the governing Transitional National Council, said Thursday.