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)