Does turning command of the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO mean a quick exit for the United States from the expensive offensive that President Barack Obama launched without Congressional consultation or approval?
NATO may be calling the shots but the effort still depends on heavy involvement by American sea and air power. The effort depends on the U.S. keeping primary responsibility for strikes on Gadhafi‘s military and air defense systems. France and Great Britain may be supporting the the U.S. must still keep the lead role in what have become the most controversial parts of the operation and have spurred a political firestorm for Obama.
Like Obama, NATO is sending out conflicting messages on who has responsibility for what.
If Obama hoped to stem the tsunami of criticism over his unilateral decision to put the U.S. into the middle of yet another conflict in the Middle East, he failed.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen first said the agreement in Brussels, meant the alliance would eventually take more responsibility, “but that decision has not been reached yet.”
In the meantime, not all NATO members is participating. Turkey, the alliance’s only Muslim member, is resisting any role in ground attacks.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered praise to NATO for taking over the no-fly zone, but the U.S. hoped the alliance would assume complete control of the operation, including the protection of Libyan civilians and supporting humanitarian aid efforts on the ground.
“We are taking the next step: We have agreed along with our NATO allies to transition command and control for the no-fly zone over Libya to NATO,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a press conference.
“All 28 allies have also now authorized military authorities to develop an operations plan for NATO to take on the broader civilian protection mission,” she continued.
Yet lines of authority remain vague. NATO’s decision sets up dual command centers opens the door to confusion and finger-pointing. U.S. commanders will be responsible for ensuring that the NATO protective flights do not conflict with planned combat operations under U.S. command.
- NATO deal on Libya doesn’t mean quick exit for US (sfgate.com)
- U.S. To Bear Brunt Of Libya Combat (huffingtonpost.com)
- US Likely To Keep Combat Role After Libya Shift – NPR (news.google.com)