U.S. Continues Support of NATO Operations in Libya

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2011 — A U.S. mil­i­tary fight­er jet destroyed two of Libyan dic­ta­tor Moam­mar Gadhafi’s sur­face-to-air mis­sile sites near the Libyan cap­i­tal of Tripoli yes­ter­day, con­tin­u­ing U.S. sup­port of NATO oper­a­tions there, offi­cials report­ed.
Since NATO took the lead of mul­ti­lat­er­al oper­a­tions in Libya on April 1, U.S. mil­i­tary air­craft have flown more than 800 sor­ties in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor. More than 150 of those sor­ties have been “sup­pres­sion of ene­my air defense” mis­sions, eight of which includ­ed ord­nance drops, offi­cials said.

The tem­po of NATO oper­a­tions in Libya remains high, alliance spokesman Oana Lunges­cu told reporters today from NATO head­quar­ters in Bel­gium. Allied air­craft have flown more than 2,800 mis­sions, about half of which were airstrikes on Gadhafi’s forces and facilities. 

“We are keep­ing up the pres­sure on the Gad­hafi regime forces to stop their bru­tal onslaught against civil­ians,” Lunges­cu said. “It’s a chal­leng­ing task, but we are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant progress in weak­en­ing Gadhafi’s abil­i­ty to use his mil­i­tary machine against his own people.” 

Brig. Gen. Mark van Uhm of the Dutch army, chief of NATO’s allied oper­a­tions, said the sit­u­a­tion on the ground in Libya remains flu­id and dynam­ic. The arms embar­go and no-fly zone over Libya are prov­ing to be effec­tive, he said. 

Over the past week, NATO air­craft have destroyed ammu­ni­tion bunkers, tanks, radars and oth­er Gad­hafi mil­i­tary equip­ment and will con­tin­ue to launch attacks until Gad­hafi yields his cam­paign, the gen­er­al said. 

“We are steadi­ly degrad­ing his com­mand and con­trol capa­bil­i­ties and his abil­i­ty to sus­tain forces on the ground,” he said. “We are main­tain­ing a high oper­a­tional tem­po, and we adjust our oper­a­tions on a dai­ly basis against what is clear­ly a rapid­ly chang­ing envi­ron­ment on the ground.” 

Offen­sive strike mis­sions will con­tin­ue until a clear sig­nal comes through that civil­ians are not under threat, he added. 

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

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