U.S. Provides Support for NATO’s Libya Operations

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 — The Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to sup­port NATO efforts in Libya, as Moam­mar Gadhafi’s forces con­tin­ue attacks on Mis­ra­ta and Ajd­abiya.
Gad­hafi has said he will accept a cease­fire, but “the lat­est reports are that Gad­hafi is con­tin­u­ing to car­ry out attacks,” said Pen­ta­gon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan.

“Talk of a cease fire is just that: Talk,” Lapan added.

The African Union has pro­posed a cease­fire. “Since the start of the cri­sis, NATO has been in con­stant touch with the African Union as well as oth­er region­al and inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions,” NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen said today in Brus­sels. “I want to be clear: There can be no sole­ly mil­i­tary solu­tion to the cri­sis in Libya. NATO wel­comes all con­tri­bu­tions to the broad inter­na­tion­al effort to stop the vio­lence against the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. Any cease­fire must be cred­i­ble and ver­i­fi­able.”

NATO air­craft are strik­ing with care and pre­ci­sion while min­i­miz­ing the dan­ger to civil­ians, Ras­mussen said.

“This is in stark con­trast to the pro-Gad­hafi forces,” he said, “who are besieg­ing their own cities and shelling city cen­ters.”

Since April 9, NATO air­craft have flown almost 300 sor­ties, the sec­re­tary gen­er­al said, destroy­ing 49 tanks, nine armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers, three anti-air­craft guns and four large ammo bunkers.

Mean­while, Gadhafi’s forces con­tin­ue offen­sive oper­a­tions against rebels in east­ern Libya. The no-fly zone has blunt­ed the effects of the regime force’s attacks, but has not end­ed them.

“We’ve talked all along about the nature of a no-fly zone and how that restricts the regime’s forces, but that does­n’t stop them,” Lapan said.

NATO offi­cials said the Libyans are using schools and mosques as shields for their armored forces. The prox­im­i­ty to civil­ians means these tar­gets are off-lim­its for NATO.

The DOD comp­trol­ler esti­mates the cost of U.S. oper­a­tions in Libya to be $40 mil­lion per month. Total U.S. cost from the begin­ning of oper­a­tions in mid-March through April 4 was $608 mil­lion, Lapan said.

Amer­i­can forces are not con­duct­ing strike mis­sions in Libya. U.S. forces are sup­port­ing NATO with air-to-air refu­el­ing, recon­nais­sance and sur­veil­lance capa­bil­i­ties and unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle sup­port. U.S. ships are also par­tic­i­pat­ing in the arms block­ade off Libya in the Mediter­ranean.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said before Con­gress on March 31 that he did not expect the depart­ment would need a sup­ple­men­tal request to fund the oper­a­tion. The depart­ment is work­ing on a fund­ing strat­e­gy.

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

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