Coalition Answers Libyan People’s Call, Flournoy Says

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2011 — Oper­a­tion Odyssey Dawn is a coali­tion effort respond­ing to the calls of the Libyan peo­ple, Arab nations and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty as a whole, the under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy said today.
In a BBC inter­view, Michele Flournoy spoke about the oper­a­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing the peo­ple of Libya from forces loy­al to Moam­mar Gad­hafi and estab­lish­ing a no-fly zone over the nation.

Yesterday’s attacks set the con­di­tions to estab­lish the no-fly zone, she said. 

“The first steps of estab­lish­ing any no-fly zone are tak­ing out the adversary’s air defens­es,” she explained. U.S. and British war­ships fired 110 Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles at the Libyan inte­grat­ed air and mis­sile defense sys­tem, and Amer­i­can B‑2 bombers attacked Libyan airfields. 

To date, the coun­tries that have announced they are part of the Odyssey Dawn coali­tion are the Unit­ed States, the Unit­ed King­dom, France, Italy, Cana­da and Qatar. More are expect­ed to announce sup­port in the com­ing days. 

“This is an increas­ing­ly broad inter­na­tion­al coali­tion that includes not only the Unit­ed States and Euro­pean nations, but a num­ber of Arab nations that are step­ping up to pro­vide var­i­ous forms of assis­tance, whether it is mil­i­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion, access, bas­ing, finan­cial sup­port and so forth,” Flournoy said. 

The mis­sion does not end with estab­lish­ing the no-fly zone, she said, not­ing that U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1973 calls for the coali­tion to pro­tect Libyan civil­ians. Gadhafi’s forces were mov­ing on Beng­hazi – the oppo­si­tion strong­point in east­ern Libya. Flournoy said coali­tion forces will use all assets “to stop Gadhafi’s forces from mov­ing in to those urban areas, to cut sup­ply lines, com­mand and con­trol and so forth.” 

“We will do what­ev­er we can to enforce the U.N.’s res­o­lu­tion,” she added. 

The under­sec­re­tary said direct­ing coali­tion air pow­er against Gadhafi’s tanks and armored vehi­cles in the cities will be dif­fi­cult, but time is not on Gadhafi’s side. 

“The will of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty is quite strong,” she said. “The sol­i­dar­i­ty across … the region is quite strong. He’s lost his legit­i­ma­cy by attack­ing his own peo­ple. Time will tell the out­come of this operation.” 

Flournoy would not dis­cuss any­thing beyond the cur­rent oper­a­tion. “It’s too ear­ly to spec­u­late about where this is going to end up,” she said. “Gad­hafi and his mil­i­tary are going to be under enor­mous pres­sure. I think their efforts to turn against their own pop­u­la­tion will be thwart­ed. We will have to see how the days play out before we will know exact­ly how this end game will play out.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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