Coalition Partners Assume More Responsibility in Libya

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)

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