Some Guidelines Met for Ending Libya Mission, Official Says
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Oct. 7, 2011 Three of the four guidelines laid out this week by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for ending Operation Unified Protector in Libya have been met, a senior defense official said today.
At Panetta’s final news conference of the Oct. 5-6 NATO defense ministerial conference in Brussels, the secretary laid out four conditions for ending the mission in Libya.
He said militia members loyal to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and fighting in Sirte would have to be defeated, Gadhafi must have no nationwide command and control capability, the opposing forces must be able to keep the nation and its citizens secure, and the Gadhafi regime must not be able to attack civilians.
The issues were discussed during private meetings among Panetta and NATO commanders and officials in Italy today, the senior defense official said, and produced the following indications:
-- Recent heavy fighting in the city of Sirte, Gadhafi’s birthplace, has given way to the likely defeat of pro-Gadhafi forces;
-- There is no evidence that Gadhafi exercises any command and control over militia members loyal to him; and
-- The fledgling democracy does not yet have a national security force, but “there is a sense that the National Transitional Council can exercise control of the country.”
Progress must be made in developing their capabilities, he added, and this could take the form of training by security forces from the international community.
“They do need to take additional steps to make sure that in the long term they can cover the country and maintain security,” the defense official said.
The successful end of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector is “very close,” he added, possibly days or weeks away.