Report: U.S. Aid is Critical to the Mission in Libya

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2011 — Amer­i­can sup­port is crit­i­cal to the NATO-led mis­sion in Libya and is hav­ing no sig­nif­i­cant oper­a­tional impact on the mis­sions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense and State depart­ment offi­cials said in a new report to Con­gress.
Issued yes­ter­day, the report details U.S. actions to date in sup­port of a coali­tion of NATO and Arab allies enforc­ing U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions to pro­tect the Libyan peo­ple.

The report, as described in a cov­er let­ter cosigned by Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense for Leg­isla­tive Affairs Eliz­a­beth L. King and Act­ing Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Leg­isla­tive Affairs Joseph E. Mac­manus, out­lines the U.S. sup­port­ing role in Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor and the unique capa­bil­i­ties the U.S. mil­i­tary is contributing. 

These include elec­tron­ic war­fare assis­tance; aer­i­al refu­el­ing; strate­gic lift capa­bil­i­ty; per­son­nel recov­ery and search and res­cue; intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance sup­port; a stand­by alert strike pack­age and man­pow­er sup­port at three NATO headquarters. 

As of June 3, the Defense Department’s cost for mil­i­tary oper­a­tions and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance efforts in Libya was $715.9 mil­lion, the report said. 

Sup­port for the Libya mis­sion is hav­ing no adverse impact on Oper­a­tion New Dawn in Iraq and Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom in Afghanistan, the report said. 

“In some cas­es, forces were delayed in arriv­ing in Iraq and Afghanistan [due to the Libya mis­sion], but the oper­a­tional impact was mit­i­gat­ed by forces already sup­port­ing those oper­a­tions,” the report noted. 

All forces ini­tial­ly divert­ed from oth­er oper­a­tions to sup­port the Libya mis­sion now have been replaced. The one excep­tion is a sin­gle guid­ed mis­sile destroy­er that is expect­ed to be replaced this month, the report said. 

Since March 31, when the Unit­ed States turned over full com­mand and con­trol respon­si­bil­i­ty of Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor to NATO, three-quar­ters of more than 10,000 sor­ties have been flown by non‑U.S. coali­tion part­ners, the report not­ed. In addi­tion, all 20 ships enforc­ing the arms embar­go are Euro­pean and Cana­di­an, and the “over­whelm­ing major­i­ty” of strike sor­ties are being flown by Euro­pean allies. 

U.S. strikes are lim­it­ed to the sup­pres­sion of ene­my air defens­es and occa­sion­al strikes by Preda­tor unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles against “a spe­cif­ic set of tar­gets, all with­in the U.N. autho­riza­tion, in order to min­i­mize col­lat­er­al dam­age in urban areas,” the report noted. 

The coali­tion mis­sion is show­ing progress, and the sit­u­a­tion on the ground has “steadi­ly improved” over the past few weeks for Libyan civil­ians under threat from Moam­mar Gadhafi’s troops. His forces “were halt­ed at the gates of Beng­hazi and have since been dri­ven back from sev­er­al towns and cities across the coun­try,” the report said. 

In addi­tion, grow­ing inter­na­tion­al opin­ion is call­ing for Gad­hafi to step down as the oppo­si­tion-led Tra­di­tion­al Nation­al Coun­cil gains cred­i­bil­i­ty and legit­i­ma­cy while chart­ing a post-Gad­hafi polit­i­cal transition. 

“This grow­ing con­sen­sus and [Gadhafi’s] con­trol of less and less of Libya indi­cate that his depar­ture is only a mat­ter of time,” the report says. 

End­ing U.S. sup­port to the Libya mis­sion now “would seri­ous­ly degrade the coalition’s abil­i­ty to exe­cute and sus­tain” oper­a­tions to pro­tect Libyan civil­ians and enforce the no-fly zone and naval arms embar­go autho­rized by a U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion, the report noted. 

“Ces­sa­tion of U.S. mil­i­tary activ­i­ties in sup­port of [Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor] would also sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the lev­el of risk for the remain­ing allied and coali­tion forces con­duct­ing the oper­a­tion,” the report said, like­ly caus­ing some nations to with­draw from the operation. 

Not hav­ing the assets and capa­bil­i­ties to sus­tain the mis­sion through Sept. 27, as agreed to dur­ing the recent NATO defense min­is­te­r­i­al, would have seri­ous con­se­quences for the alliance, the report said. 

NATO’s cred­i­bil­i­ty would be dam­aged with sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences for U.S., Euro­pean and glob­al secu­ri­ty,” the report said. 

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

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