Sunday, March 20, 2011

STATEMENT: AFRICOM Commander on Commencement of Military Strikes in Libya


By General Carter Ham
Commander, U.S. Africa Command

STUTTGART, Germany, Mar 19, 2011 — Also available: General Carter Ham's statement translated to French and Arabic.

At the direction of President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates, U.S. Africa Command is commanding U.S. military support for the international enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan people.

Earlier today, coalition military aircraft began entering Libyan airspace to enforce UNSCR 1973. This evening, U.S. military forces under my command began conducting operations in support of this multi-national effort.

The U.S. military joins international partners who are seeking to halt the aggression in Libya. Our goals are simple: We want to protect innocent civilians, prevent attacks against civilian communities, and deter mass atrocities.

Our national civilian leaders and their international counterparts have defined clear objectives for our military actions: A cease-fire must be implemented and all attacks against civilians must stop. Troops must stop advancing against Benghazi and must be pulled back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya. Water, electricity, and gas supplies must be turned on to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

In support of the above objectives, our immediate military goals are to prevent further attacks by regime forces on Libyan citizens and opposition groups, especially in and around Benghazi, and to degrade the Qadhafi regime's capability to resist an internationally patrolled no-fly zone.

I have directed everyone in my command to take all available steps to reduce and minimize the potential for harming civilians in our operations, and I want to emphasize again that we have no intention of deploying ground troops to Libya.

The men and women of United States Africa Command and those serving with Joint Task Force ODYSSEY DAWN are amazingly dedicated and are serving with great distinction. It is my honor to serve alongside them. Our nation as well as the many nations represented in our coalition, are, indeed, fortunate to have such dedicated professionals in our ranks.

General Carter Ham
Commander, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)


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