NATO Assumes Command for Libya Operations

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 — NATO has tak­en sole com­mand of inter­na­tion­al air oper­a­tions over Libya, Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen announced in Stock­holm today.
NATO has all the assets in place for Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor, includ­ing forces for the arms embar­go and no-fly zone and actions to pro­tect civil­ians and civil­ian cen­ters, Ras­mussen said.

The oper­a­tions are tak­ing place under the aus­pices of Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1973.

Adm. Giampao­lo Di Pao­la of the Ital­ian navy, chair­man of the NATO Mil­i­tary Com­mit­tee, said the alliance has grad­u­al­ly tak­en over com­mand of these oper­a­tions from U.S. Africa Com­mand.

“This deci­sion fol­lowed a con­struc­tive debate among NATO polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary author­i­ties, and has been tak­en by the alliance in a remark­able short lap of time,” he said.

NATO offi­cials have direct­ed U.S. Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO’s supreme allied com­man­der for Europe, “to launch the oper­a­tion with­out any gaps while the trans­fer of assets is ongo­ing,” Di Pao­la said. The oper­a­tion is under the com­mand of Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard of the Cana­di­an Forces.

The NATO mis­sion also has con­tri­bu­tions from part­ner nations, includ­ing Qatar and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

“We con­sid­er region­al sup­port as fun­da­men­tal, in line with the prin­ci­ples and core tasks high­light­ed in NATO’s new Strate­gic Con­cept,” Di Pao­la said. “I want to be clear. The focus of our mis­sion is to pro­tect the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. We know that this is a chal­leng­ing endeav­or and the sit­u­a­tion on the ground is com­plex. We are also aware that there is no pure­ly mil­i­tary solu­tion to the cri­sis.”

Alliance offi­cials stressed that the alliance will adhere strict­ly to the mis­sion delin­eat­ed by the U.N. res­o­lu­tion.

NATO is not engaged in Libya to decide the future of the Libyan peo­ple,” Di Pao­la said. “That is up to Libyans them­selves. We are help­ing enforce the will of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to pro­tect them from attacks so that they can start shap­ing and decid­ing of their future.”

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

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