NATO Partnership in Libya Serves as Model, Panetta Says

MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 23, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta today called U.S. sup­port for the NATO mis­sion that’s help­ing oppo­si­tion forces make progress against Moam­mar Gadhafi’s regime Libya an exam­ple of the inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion that will be crit­i­cal in the future.

“It is a good indi­ca­tion of the kind of part­ner­ship and alliances that we need to have for the future if we are going to deal with the threats that we con­front in today’s world,” Panet­ta told stu­dents dur­ing address­es at both the Naval Post­grad­u­ate School and Defense Lan­guage Insti­tute For­eign Lan­guage Cen­ter.

Panet­ta said he is par­tic­u­lar­ly proud of the mis­sion the Unit­ed States per­formed as a NATO part­ner in Libya, includ­ing the estab­lish­ment of a no-fly zone to help pro­tect the Libyan peo­ple.

“It is a cred­it to the great job of nations work­ing togeth­er on a com­mon mis­sion – some­thing that is absolute­ly essen­tial if we are to pro­vide secu­ri­ty in the future,” he said.

This sup­port and assis­tance, he said, has been “part of the key in being able to help the oppo­si­tion forces there ulti­mate­ly be able to suc­ceed.”

Panet­ta expressed hope that the oppo­si­tion will suc­ceed and NATO will have com­plet­ed its mis­sion. “It’s clear that the oppo­si­tion has made sig­nif­i­cant gains. It’s clear that the regime forces are col­laps­ing and that Gadhafi’s days are num­bered,” he said.

The Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to mon­i­tor events, but the sit­u­a­tion remains dan­ger­ous and “very flu­id,” he said.

“In many ways, the future of Libya is in the hands of the Libyans,” Panet­ta told the assem­blies, echo­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. “We hope that they will decide that it is impor­tant to estab­lish sta­bil­i­ty and impor­tant polit­i­cal reforms for the future after 40 years of Gad­hafi.”

The Arab Spring, the name giv­en to recent rev­o­lu­tions for democ­ra­cy through­out the Mid­dle East, is bring­ing change and in many cas­es, tur­moil to the region, Panet­ta said. But it also offers “a chance to make that part of the world a bet­ter region, one that enjoys some of the val­ues and some of the reforms and some of the polit­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ties that we have in this coun­try,” he said.

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