NATO in full charge, future remains elusive

NATO on Thursday took full command and control of military operations in Libya from the United States, however, the endgame of the military campaigns remains elusive.

"This transfer is completed. NATO is fully responsible for the military efforts. We have more than 100 fighter and support aircraft and more than a dozens maritime assets from several nations under NATO command," said Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, commander of the NATO mission, code-named Unified Protector.

Since NATO took full charge of military operations from 0600 GMT on Thursday, it has conducted more than 90 flying sorties and has more than 20 frigates patrolling in the Mediterranean and several supporting vessels, the Canadian general said via video conference from the alliance's base in Naples, Itlay.

The general said that he hoped the NATO mission, a 90-day military plan, could last shorter, however, the operation would not end until the Libya civilians are no longer attacked.

NATO members agreed on Sunday to take on the whole military operation in Libya under the United Nations Security Council Resolution, ending a week of squabbling over the command structure mainly involving France, Turkey, the United States and Britain.


NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told reporters that "NATO will do its utmost" to involve all partners in the Libya mission and invite partners to participate.

The chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, said all NATO members had provided "political support" for the mission, and some allies were willing to contribute and deploy military assets, as well as several none-NATO countries.

In addition, while the disputes over the command have settled down, the endgame in Libya remains elusive as participating countries are divided on a series of questions, the ultimate goal of the mission, whether to arm rebels in Libya, and so on.

[Source: Xinhua, Brussels, 31Mar11]

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