NATO Makes Smooth Transition in Libya Operations

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 — The tran­si­tion from the U.S.-led Oper­a­tion Odyssey Dawn to the NATO-led Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor has occurred seam­less­ly, British Roy­al Navy Rear Adm. Rus­sell Hard­ing said in Naples, Italy, today.
The NATO mis­sion has the equip­ment and capa­bil­i­ties need­ed to pro­tect the Libyan peo­ple, main­tain the no-fly zone over Libya and enforce the muni­tions block­ade of the coun­try, Hard­ing said.

U.S. air­craft and ships are in sup­port of the NATO oper­a­tion and Amer­i­can air­craft are not fly­ing airstrikes against Moam­mar Gadhafi’s forces.

NATO offi­cials said the attacks have degrad­ed Gadhafi’s forces by 30 per­cent. How­ev­er, Gadhafi’s forces now are try­ing to blend with road traf­fic and use civil­ians as shields. NATO forces are now adjust­ing to this change.

“These strikes achieved their main effect, reduc­ing the capac­i­ty of gov­ern­ment forces to threat­en the lives or besiege the cities of the Libyan peo­ple,” Hard­ing said.

The NATO effort fields more than 100 fight­er and sup­port air­craft in action as well as a dozen naval ves­sels from sev­er­al nations, the admi­ral said.

“We have achieved a seam­less tran­si­tion … and are resolved to demon­strate the same com­mit­ment and effec­tive­ness,” Hard­ing said. “NATO is oper­at­ing under a very clear inter­na­tion­al legal man­date and with broad region­al sup­port. It will take action against any par­ty that threat­ens aggres­sion or vio­lence or acts in con­tra­ven­tion” of Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1973.

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

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