WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 — Coalition task force operations in Libya continue to go well, and partner nations are picking up more of the workload, the chief of staff of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn told reporters today.
“Our efforts have been going well,” Navy Rear Adm. Gerard P. Hueber told Pentagon reporters by telephone from the USS Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea on the sixth day of operations. “This is a multiphased operation. Our coalition partners are assuming more and more responsibility.”
The 13-member coalition has achieved its objective to set up a no-fly zone over Libya, and no Libyan aircraft has flown in the past 24 hours, Hueber said. Libyan forces have not used surface-to-air missiles in four days, he added.
Of 175 sorties that flew over Libya yesterday, 113 were by U.S. forces and 63 were by coalition partners, Hueber said. Three days ago, U.S. forces flew 85 percent of missions, he noted.
Sortie airstrikes have rendered Libya’s air defense “severely degraded or destroyed,” the admiral said.
Hueber said the coalition’s mission is clear, as mandated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973: to protect civilians from attacks or the threat of attacks, to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians and prevent mass atrocities, and to enforce the trade embargo against Libya.
To end the mission, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must stop Libyan forces from firing on civilians, he said. But forces loyal to Gadhafi continue to advance on Benghazi on Libya’s northeastern coast, and are not pulling back from Misurata on the northwestern coast and Ajdabiya, just south of Benghazi, Hueber said. Widespread reports indicate Gadhafi’s forces continue to fire on civilians and civilian sites in those cities, he added.
“He must stop advancing on those cities,” Hueber said. “Clearly, Gadhafi’s forces have not met those requirements and are in clear violation” of the U.N. Security Council resolution.
“We are pressuring Gadhafi’s forces that are attacking those civilian populations,” he added.
The coalition started out small, but quickly established the no-fly zone, obtained maritime superiority, put the embargo in place, interdicted ground forces, suppressed enemy air defenses and put humanitarian operations in place, Hueber said.
“This is a fully integrated coalition operation,” he said. “Coalition ships, aircraft and staff are focused on the single mission of enforcing [Resolution] 1973.”
The coalition has “accomplished quite a lot together,” the admiral said, “and will continue to work together” until the resolution’s objectives are met.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)