Mullen Credits International Urgency for Libya Success

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 — Coali­tion forces raced the clock in Libya this month as Moam­mar Gad­hafi sent his forces march­ing on Beng­hazi, “intent on bru­tal­iz­ing the peo­ple there,” the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
“I can­not remem­ber a time when so many nations mobi­lized so many forces so fast,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

“But we were ready,” the chair­man added. “Before the ink was even dry on that U.N. res­o­lu­tion, there were planes and ships, pilots and sailors, mov­ing into posi­tion, ready to act.” NATO assumed com­mand of the entire mil­i­tary mis­sion over Libya ear­ly this morn­ing, Mullen said, not­ing that 20 nations now are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the mis­sion, renamed Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor.

“Con­tri­bu­tions range across the board, from active par­tic­i­pa­tion in strike oper­a­tions to finan­cial aid and assis­tance for human­i­tar­i­an efforts,” Mullen said. Sev­er­al Arab coun­tries are involved in the oper­a­tion, the chair­man added, despite domes­tic chal­lenges of their own.

“The Unit­ed States and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty remain grate­ful for their expe­ri­ence and their lead­er­ship,” he said.

Strong mil­i­tary part­ner­ships led to the speedy inter­na­tion­al response begin­ning March 19, when in less than a day coali­tion airstrikes paved the way for estab­lish­ing a no-fly zone to pro­tect Libyan cit­i­zens, Mullen said.

“We — and I mean the col­lec­tive we, not just the Unit­ed States — have invest­ed in close rela­tion­ships with one anoth­er, facil­i­tat­ed by near­by air and naval bas­ing and improved over time through annu­al exer­cis­es, per­son­nel exchanges, actu­al com­bat expe­ri­ence and mutu­al dia­logue,” the chair­man said.

U.S. forces remain com­mit­ted to the mis­sion, though their con­tri­bu­tions will dimin­ish as NATO takes the lead, Mullen said.

“I can assure you that your men and women in uni­form will exe­cute that mis­sion, now in sup­port of NATO, with the same pro­fes­sion­al­ism with which they have led that mis­sion until today,” he said.

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

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