WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2011 — The United States military “is in the planning and preparing mode” on Libya, and will be able to provide the full range of options for national leaders, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said here today.
The U.S. military is moving naval and air forces to the region, he said.
President Barack Obama asked the military to prepare these options as the situation in Libya gets worse. News reports indicate while Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi is attacking rebels in and around the capital of Tripoli, anti-regime forces hold the east.
In a Feb. 26 call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama said: “When a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now,” according to the White House.
The Defense Department has not been directly tasked for any mission, Lapan said.
“We have planners working various contingency plans,” he said. “It’s safe to say as a part of that, we’re re-positioning forces to provide for that flexibility. We are re-positioning forces in the region to provide options and flexibility.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also urged Gadhafi to stop killing his own people and leave. She also said the United States government has been reaching out to Libyan rebels.
“We’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward, there as well,” Clinton said at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday. “I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”
Lapan ruled nothing out. “Again, it goes back to having a full range of options available,” he said. “So those forces could be used in any number of ways. Re-positioning them provides that flexibility so they can be used if needed.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)