Pentagon Press Briefing
WASHINGTON, D.C., Mar 22, 2011 — During a Pentagon news brief, March 22, 2011, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, provided an update on Operation Odyssey Dawn and the U.S. F-15 aircraft that went down in Libya. His opening statement is provided below. The complete transcript will be posted on Wednesday, March 23.
COL. LAPAN: Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces - Europe and Africa. He's joining us today via phone from his command ship, the USS Mount Whitney, currently underway in the Mediterranean. Admiral Locklear assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa on October 6 of 2010. He's also the commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, the task force established to provide operational and tactical international response to the unrest in Libya and to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan people. Again, he's joining us from his ship in the Med so this will be an audio only feed from the ship. And with that, Admiral, I'll turn it over to you.
LOCKLEAR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, it's afternoon here, USS Mount Whitney, we're operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
Before I give you an overview of Operation Odyssey Dawn, let me just take a moment to address the U.S. F-15 aircraft that went down and has been in the news in the last few hours.
Late last evening, central European time, two U.S. Air Force crew members ejected from their F-15E Strike Eagle after the aircraft encountered an equipment malfunction in eastern Libya.
Both crew members ejected and are safe. One crew member was recovered by coalition forces. The other crew member was recovered by the people of Libya. He was treated with dignity and respect and is now in the care of the United States.
The F-15 was assigned to conduct a strike mission against Qadhafi Regime missile capabilities; an action in compliance with the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
Now, we all know military operations are inherently dangerous and I am continually impressed by the bravery and courage of the young men and women who put themselves forward to protect others day-in and day-out.
Now, let me address operations under UN Security Council Resolution 1973. International forces have been authorized to use all necessary measures to protect civilians that are under threat of attack from forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi.
Yesterday, you heard from General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, the combatant commander responsible for this operation. He briefed you on how coalition forces are working together to encourage Qadhafi to end hostilities.
So today, I'd like to discuss what Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn has achieved to date and how these operations have affected the environment.
First, let me talk about the countries that have come together to defend the Libyan people.
Here on the Mount Whitney with me I have coalition leadership representation from the French Navy and the UK Navy. I have LNOs from a variety of other navies. I have Vice Admiral Jean Pierre Labonne from the French Navy, Rear Admiral Russ Hardy (ph) from the UK Navy.
We're coordinating closely with coalition partners. In fact, there's 13 nations that are either here or moving forces in this direction. Together, we have formed a partnership to support international responses to this crisis.
Today, in the area of our responsibility, our coalition has multiple ships and submarines highlighted by the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which I had the opportunity to visit yesterday, the Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi, and the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge. There's numerous coalition land and sea-based aviation assets to include reconnaissance, early warning, attack, fighter aircraft, and support aircraft that are airborne daily in increasing numbers to enforce the no-fly zone. Here on Mt. Whitney, as I said, I'm accompanied by flag liaison officers, and we are coordinating closely as we conduct the operation.
Now, let me briefly recap what we have done to date.
On March 18, the coalition forces began a graduated sequenced campaign against the government of Libya to establish a no-fly zone in order to protect innocent civilians.
Following initial operations in Benghazi by our French partners, United Kingdom and U.S. cruise missile attacks accompanied by significant coalition air strikes, rendered Qadhafi's long range air defenses and his air force largely ineffective, thus enabling the coalition to establish a no-fly zone, and opening the door for international and non-governmental organization humanitarian assistance efforts.
We continue to expand the effectiveness of our coalition no-fly zone and our other coalition capabilities.
It's my judgment, however, that despite our successes to date, that Qadhafi and his forces are not yet in compliance with the United Nations' Security Council Resolution due to the continued aggressive actions his forces are placing on the civilian population.
I'll now take your questions.
(Transcription of Q/A session in progress)