Friday, March 25, 2011

Coalition Air Operations Take on Gadhafi’s Forces

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2011 – The coalition struck a number of targets in Libya with air operations flown to protect the Libyan people from Moammar Gadhafi's forces, the director of the Joint Staff said today.

Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney briefed Pentagon reporters on the latest developments in the United Nations-ordered operation.

Many strikes went after Gadhafi regime armored forces outside Ajdabiyah, a city south of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Gortney said. The coalition also hit more command and control facilities in and around Tripoli and launched 16 more Tomahawk strikes against targets that included Scud missile garrisons in Tripoli and air defense systems around Sabha, he added.

In the last 24 hours, coalition aircraft flew 153 sorties, with 96 of those being strikes. "Slightly more than half of those strike missions were flown by U.S. pilots," the admiral said. Partner nations flew all of the no-fly zone enforcement missions.

NATO has agreed to take on the no-fly zone enforcement mission, and officials at the alliance's headquarters in Belgium named Canadian air force Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard to lead Operation Unified Protector. The operation covers enforcing the U.N.-mandated arms embargo and no-fly zone. Bouchard is stationed in Naples, Italy, at the Allied Joint Force Command.

Gortney said it is possible that NATO may take over the last part of the U.N. mission, which is protecting Libyan civilians from Gadhafi's forces.

Partner nations are taking on more missions, and the division of labor between U.S. and partner nations has evened out, the admiral said. As operations continue, the United States will fly most refueling, surveillance, information operations and jamming missions, he added.

"The coalition is working very hard to make it very hard for Colonel Gadhafi and his troops to kill their own citizens and destroy property," Gortney said. "But that is … a delicate mission."

The U.N. charged the coalition with protecting the people of Libya, the admiral noted, adding that nothing the coalition can do could put the people at greater risk than the risk they face at the hands of Gadhafi's regime.

"What we must focus on is limiting the regime's ability to inflict the harm by squeezing it and denying it the tools to do so, and we believe we are achieving success in that regard," Gortney said.


NATO and Libya

Responding to the ongoing crisis in Libya, NATO Allies decided on 24 March to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. This is in response to the decisions of the United Nations Security Council.

All NATO Allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the UN resolution. The purpose of the no-fly zone is to prevent any air attacks on civilians or populated areas by closing Libyan airspace.

NATO is taking action as part of the broad international effort and looks forward to working with its partners in the region.

At this point, there is still a coalition operation and a NATO operation but NATO is currently considering whether it should take on a broader responsibility in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution.

Through the chain of command NATO and the Coalition will ensure close coordination and de-confliction.

Background and timeline

Following the popular uprising which began in Benghazi on 17 February 2011, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted Resolution 1970. This institutes an arms embargo, freezes the personal assets of Libya's leaders and imposes a travel ban on senior figures.

On 8 March, with international concern over the Libyan crisis growing, NATO stepped up its surveillance operations in the Central Mediterranean, deploying AWACS aircraft to provide round-the-clock observation. These "eyes in the sky" give NATO detailed information of movements in Libyan airspace.

On 10 March, NATO Defence Ministers supported SACEUR's decision to have alliance ships move to the same area to boost the monitoring effort.

On 17 March, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, authorising member states and regional organisations to, inter alia, take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya.

On 22 March, NATO responded to the UN call by launching an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya. On 23 March, NATO's arms embargo operation started.

NATO ships and aircraft are operating in the Central Mediterranean to make sure that the flow of weapons to Libya by sea is cut off. They have the right to stop and search any vessel they suspect of carrying arms or mercenaries.

The NATO ships will not enter Libyan territorial waters. NATO has no intention of deploying land forces anywhere in Libyan territory.


NATO Secretary General's statement on Libya no-fly zone

NATO Allies have now decided to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.

24 Mar. 2011

We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the Gaddafi regime. We will cooperate with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions.

All NATO Allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the UN resolution. That is why we have decided to assume responsibility for the no-fly zone.

At this moment there will still be a coalition operation and a NATO operation but we are considering whether NATO should take on a broader responsibility in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution. But that decision has not been made yet.

Through the chain of command NATO and the Coalition will ensure close coordination and de-confliction.

Reporter: Mr. Secretary, there has been a lot of concern about civilian casualties and it's been mentioned that ... it was a particular concern to Turkey. Could you tell us about some of the deliberations you had in the Council?

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen: No, we have had very very positive deliberations. It is of utmost importance to get this right. It's a serious decision, and this is the reason why we have spent some time to reach this conclusion, but compared to the past we have actually done it quite quickly.

Associated Press: Secretary-General, has NATO agreed to take on the responsibilities in this No-Fly Zone, including on continuing the bombing campaign started by the international coalition?

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen: What we have decided tonight is to take the responsibility for enforcing the No-Fly Zone with the aim to protect the civilian population, and the mandate doesn't go beyond that, of course we can act in self-defence, but what we will do is to enforce the No-Fly Zone and ensure that we protect the civilian population.

Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Thank you very much. Another one? One last question.

Reporter: Does that mean that if members of the so-called coalition, say France, would like to strike against troops of Ghadaffi's moving in on civilian targets, that would be part of the mission that NATO overtakes at this moment?

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen: At this moment, there will still be a coalition operation and a NATO operation. But we are considering whether NATO should take on that broader responsibility in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution, but that decision has not been made yet.

Reporter: How do you coordinate then between the coalition and NATO forces for the No-Fly Zone?

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen: That would take place through the chain of command and we will ensure close coordination and deconfliction.

Oana Lungescu: And with that thank you very much and a very good night.


NATO Assumes Responsibility for No-fly Zone Over Libya

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2011 – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced today the alliance will assume command and control of coalition operations enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

"We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the [Moammar] Gadhafi regime," Rasmussen said in a statement released today. "We will cooperate with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions."

All NATO allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the U.N. resolution, Rasmussen said. "That is why we have decided to assume responsibility for the no-fly zone," He added.

Speaking in Washington this evening after meetings at the White House, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said a wide range of nations has responded to the Libyan people's needs.

"When the Libyan people sought to realize their democratic aspirations, they were met by extreme violence from their own government," Clinton said. "The Libyan people appealed to the world to help stop the brutal attacks on them, and the world listened."

Hundreds of thousands of civilians were in danger, the secretary said, and an international coalition responded.

"After only five days, we have made significant progress," she said. "A massacre in Benghazi was prevented. Gadhafi's air force and air defenses have been rendered largely ineffective. And the coalition is in control of the skies above Libya."

Humanitarian relief is beginning to reach the people who need it, she said, noting, "At least 18 doctors and nurses from an organization funded by the United States Agency for International Development [are] in Benghazi … beginning to provide support to the city's main hospital."

President Barack Obama stressed that the U.S. military's actions "would be limited in time and scope," Clinton said. "Our mission has been to use America's unique capabilities to create the conditions for the no-fly zone, and to assist in meeting urgent humanitarian needs."

Today the United States and its NATO allies agreed to transition command and control for the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO, Clinton said.

"This coalition includes countries beyond NATO, including Arab partners, and we expect all of them to [provide] important political guidance going forward," she said.

Arab leadership and participation is the coalition is crucial, she said.

"The Arab League showed that leadership with its pivotal statement on Libya," Clinton said. "We are deeply appreciative of their continuing contributions, including aircrafts and pilots from Qatar."

This evening the United Arab Emirates announced it will join the coalition and send planes to help protect Libyan civilians and enforce the no-fly zone, the secretary said.

"We welcome this important step," she added. "It underscores both the breadth of this international coalition and the depth of concern in the region for the plight of the Libyan people."

As NATO assumes command-and-control responsibilities, the welfare of Libyan civilians will be of paramount concern, she said.

"Our military will continue to provide support to our efforts to make sure that Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 will be enforced," Clinton said. "It is an effort that we believe is very important, and we'll look forward to coordinating closely with all those nations that are participating."


Thursday, March 24, 2011

British submarine launches further strikes on Libyan air defence systems

A Military Operations news article
24 Mar 11

A Royal Navy submarine has launched further missile strikes against Libyan air defence targets as part of co-ordinated coalition action in support of enforcing UN Resolution 1973.

In a statement, the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, Major General John Lorimer, said:

"British Armed Forces have again participated in a co-ordinated strike against Libyan air defence systems in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

"The UK launched guided Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from a Trafalgar Class submarine at air defence targets as part of the coalition plan to enforce the resolution.

"Britain and her international partners remain engaged in operations to support United Nations Security Resolution 1973, to enforce the established no-fly zone and to ready the UK's contribution to the NATO arms embargo of Libya."

TRANSCRIPT: General Ham addresses media in Sigonella, Sicily on Operation Odyssey Dawn

U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, SICILY, Mar 24, 2011 — Gen. Carter Ham, commander U.S. Africa Command, addressed media regarding current military actions as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. In addition to thanking the servicemembers from the coalition and the community of Sigonella for their support to this operation, support that makes the operation possible, Ham provided a brief description of some of the ongoing military activities in the region and what he felt was the best fit for transitioning command.

"It's our hope â? and I think as a military person, the best and easiest transition would be to NATO because so many of the nations who are participating are NATO. This is a great example of why we have this military alliance that can come together very quickly and operate very effectively together."

The complete transcript is included below.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL CHERYL PHILLIPS: It's my pleasure to introduce General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. He is the commander of U.S. operations in Libya and is responsible for U.S. security interests throughout the continent of Africa.

Joining him up here will be Colonel Tonello, who is the commander of the Italian Air Force 41st Wing at Sigonella and Captain Scott Butler, Naval Air Station Sigonella. And with that, I'd like to turn over the podium to General Ham for a few remarks.

GENERAL CARTER F. HAM: Well, thank you all very much for coming out this afternoon. I had a great day today. I had the opportunity to visit the crew aboard the Mount Whitney, which is not too far from here, which, as you know, has been a command ship for Admiral Sam Locklear, the Joint Taskforce Odyssey Dawn commander. And while there, I had an opportunity to, first of all, say thank you to that crew and all that staff that have worked so hard, and then secondly, to have some discussions about the future and, notably, about transition of command.

From there, we had the opportunity to go out to the USS Kearsarge, a United States naval vessel with Marines embarked. Notably, this is the vessel from which the aircraft, which picked up the downed pilot in Libya a few nights ago â? they flew from that. I actually had an opportunity to talk to that particular crew about the mission. And again, an opportunity to say thanks to those sailors and Marines for all that they are doing, to talk about some upcoming missions, to make sure that they had the resources necessary to accomplish their mission.

Here, at Sigonella, I would just say that this is an absolutely vital hub for operations in Libya. You see here an international collection of forces, a wide variety of nations' militaries, have gathered at this site because it is so critical. It's strategic location has been important to us and been important for decades and centuries, as you all know, and it remains so today.

So we're very thankful to our hosts here in Sicily that have been so very supportive of the U.S. military over so many years, and now welcoming the international forces that are operating here and operating so effectively. We simply could not accomplish our mission without the great support of all those that are here at Sigonella. And with that, I'd be glad to take a few questions.

Q: Yes, sir. Good morning. We did have a â? (inaudible) â?

GEN. HAM: Okay, there we go. All right.

Q: Sorry.

GEN. HAM: That's all right. Now I see you there, okay.

Q: I am â? (inaudible). Just a question: Do you think Sicily will be at risk of any direct attack from Libyan forces?

GEN. HAM: I'm sorry, could you â? one more time, please.

Q: Yes, do you think Sicily is at risk of any direct attack by Libyan forces?

GEN. HAM: I do not think that Sicily is under threat of direct attack. Our mission is under the United Nations Security Council resolution and it's very clear. It is to establish an arms embargo and to prevent the illegal shipment of arms to and from Libya. It is, secondly, to establish a no-fly zone so that his military aircraft cannot strike civilians, and thirdly, to protect the civilians from regime forces as best we can. And we're accomplishing those missions. But I think the people here are safe from Libyan attacks, certainly.

Q: Hi, Emma McIntosh with Reuters. I'm in the same place, hi.

GEN. HAM: Okay, okay.

Q: And this is a very international operation that's happening at the moment and there's been a lot of discussion about the leadership of it. I know that President Obama is coming under pressure, as well, to help come to a conclusion about overall leadership. Where do you see this going on leadership? Who's going to take charge?

GEN. HAM: It's our hope â? and I think as a military person, the best and easiest transition would be to NATO because so many of the nations who are participating are NATO. This is a great example of why we have this military alliance that can come together very quickly and operate very effectively together.

So I think that structure is probably the best way to make this transition. And I know those discussions are underway. As I mentioned, I've been traveling most of the day today so I'm not aware of any progress that may have been achieved today. But as a military commander, my preference would be to hand off to a NATO command.

Q: Diana Magnay, CNN. We were hearing reports from Reuters, who were taken to a morgue in Tajura today where they were shown military and civilian casualties, according to Reuters, after the coalition bombing, in Tajura, of a military site. Do you know anything about that, and can you be sure that there have been no civilian casualties to date?

GEN. HAM: I cannot be sure there have been no civilian casualties. What I can be sure of is that we are very, very precise and discriminate in our targeting. There have been more instances than I can think of in the conduct of this campaign where our pilots have made the correct decision to not attack a legitimate military target for concern of the civilian casualties that, that attack would have caused.

It is a very, very high priority. And I cannot emphasize enough the precision with which we conduct these strikes. I am not at all surprised that the regime has made claims of civilian casualties, and frankly, I'm surprised it's kind of taken them this long to kind of make that claim. We should also note, though, you know, the regime doesn't talk about the mosque that they destroyed in az-Zawiya, which we have evidence of. They don't talk about the thousands of Libyan citizens, which they have killed, which we know is very true.

So - and I'm sorry if I'm a little emotional about this - the people who are killing civilians are the regime of this current government leader in Libya. The people who are protecting the civilians are the forces of the United Nations, which are conducting these operations. Yes?

Q: General, Duncan Kennedy (ph), BBC News. We're now one week into this military campaign and General Qadhafi is still very much in action with his forces. Is there any end to this crisis? Is that acceptable that he's still operating like this?

GEN. HAM: What's not acceptable is the continued attacks by regime forces against their civilians and that's what we're working very hard on. We have had effect, and we know we have had effect, on fixed sites, on air-defense sites, which essentially no longer exist. We are having an effect on command-and-control facilities, though we do recognize and see that there is still some capacity for the regime to exercise control of its military forces. And that remains a target of priority for us.

We have had effect against weapons storage so that - and ammunition and fuel supplies that keep his military forces going. And we'll continue those kinds of attacks. What I would say has happened over the first week of this campaign is, early on, we had many fixed sites, which we knew we could target. There are not so many of those left, though there are some and we learn about more each day. But where we find ourselves now is what we call dynamic targeting, particularly on his fielded ground forces, which are conducting operations against the civilian populace.

It's the most difficult target that we have because they are in and around the built-up areas of Libya. And again, our concern for not causing civilian casualties makes that a particularly difficult target set for us. But we will endeavor to do the best we can, and are looking for innovative ways to increase our effectiveness. Maybe one more. Do we have time for one more, I think â? yes?

Q: General -(inaudible). Just a question about, if you could, tell us something more about the targets at Sabha in the southern part of Libya. It's Qadhafi's stronghold. Can you tell us something more about what happened there?

GEN. HAM: Yeah, again, I would begin by saying we do not and are not specifically targeting the regime leader. But what we do see in Sabha and other places are command-and-control facilities and air-defense systems, which could interfere with the execution of the no-fly zone. We detected those targets, attacked some of them last night.

I guess the message would be, we're not restricted, geographically. Where we see threats to the execution of the no-fly zone, where we see forces attacking civilians, where we see command-and-control facilities, we will attack those. And that's what you saw at Sabha. Okay, thank you all. Yep, one last one, okay.

Q: (Inaudible, background noise) -by the French. Can you please comment a little on that? I'd like to ask you if you think this mission creep is inevitable if you are to actually -(inaudible).

GEN. HAM: I'll answer both, if that's okay. We do have a report that there was, in fact, a Libyan jet that had -a military jet, which had taken off and as it was landing - I believe it was at Misrata; we can get that for the record for you. I think it was at the Misrata airfield that the mission was detected and as they were landing, or shortly after they were landing, they were, in fact, attacked and destroyed by a French aircraft executing the no-fly zone in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolution.

With regard to mission creep, I'm not concerned about that. I have a clear mission. The clear mission is establish arms embargo -it's in place -the no-fly zone -it's in place. We are in a process of protecting civilians and that will continue. And then the last piece is transition to a designated headquarters, which I suspect will be NATO. So for me, I think our mission is well-defined and has a definite end state. And I think we'll be in good shape, with regard to that. And I'm not concerned, at present, about mission creep.

Thank you all very much. And again, many, many heartfelt thanks for all the great people of Sicily that have provided such great support here at Sigonella. To put it quite simply, we could not execute this mission without the support from this extraordinary community and this extraordinary base. Thank you very much.


General Ham visits air operations center responsible for Operation Odyssey Dawn air campaign

by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
17th Air Force Public Affairs

3/22/2011 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Africa Command Commander Army Gen. Carter Ham and his top enlisted advisor, Command Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson Jr., paid a visit to their air component Mar. 22 here.

Air Forces Africa (17th Air Force) Commander Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward greeted General Ham at the 603rd Air Operations Center, where flying operations in Libya were on display, and work with coalition partners was taking place. Participants from coalition countries to include France, Great Britain, and Italy were present to greet the general as he saw firsthand how the air components all were working together in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

The 603rd, normally the AOC for 3rd Air Force and U.S. European Command, is hosting AFRICOM's (and 17th Air Force's) 617th Air Opertions Center. The two commands are working together on ODD, enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 and the mandated no-fly zone over Libya. Together they form the air component of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn.

AFRICOM established the JTF to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of security council resolution. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces.

Although working with different countries in similar activities could warrant a difficult learning curve, General Ham said it was clear that this was not the case, and having preparation beforehand may have helped in this situation.

"You can't bring 14 different nations together without ever having prepared for this before," he said. "It's amazing to see that even with such short notice what we have been able to come together and accomplish this task. There is no force anywhere on the planet that could pull this off."

The commander, while touring the 603rd facility, also acknowledged that if it was not for the diligence within the AOC, the Airmen involved in F-15E plane crash March 21 might have had a different outcome.

"It is because of the work that is done in this room, that those Airmen were able to get home to their families again," he said. "From the bottom of my heart, I extend my sincere appreciation for the work here. Nobody else can do what you do."

Chief Johnson, a former member of 3rd AF, remembered his time in the unit fondly.

"I remember being stationed there and to see the unification today along with the professionalism among the enlisted corps is great," he said. "Throughout the Air Force, there is an enlisted person's fingerprint in everything we do - and it's just an honor to see this."

The 603rd AOC is playing host to not only the 617th AOC, but coalition partners as well. Although the process has been going well, the Libya operation has called for long hours and around the clock surveillance. But General Ham said relief is just around the corner, but not without a little bit more work.

"I know this has been a very busy couple of weeks," he said. "I also know it is very important for me to come out here and say thank you. I've had the opportunity to talk to everyone from the President down and they pass along their appreciation to all of you."

"It's amazing to see the many nations working together with extraordinary cooperation and dedication. But the work isn't done yet. But what you do is amazing and no one else can do what you do."