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)