WASHINGTON (AP) __ American ships and aircraft stationed in and
around the Mediterranean Sea did not participate in initial French
air missions Saturday over Libya, but the U.S. prepared to a launch
a missile attack on Libyan air defenses, according to two U.S.
officials familiar with the unfolding intervention.
One official said the U.S. intends to limit its involvement __ at
least in the initial stages __ to helping protect French and other
air missions by taking out Libyan air defenses.
An attack against those defenses with Navy sea-launched Tomahawk
cruise missiles was planned for later Saturday, one official said.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the
sensitivity of military operations.
The official said that depending on how Libyan forces responded
to initial intervention by the French and others, the U.S. could
launch additional attacks in support of allied forces. The
intention was to leave it to other nations to patrol a no-fly zone
over Libya once air defenses are silenced, the official said.
President Barack Obama, on an official visit to Brazil,
mentioned the Libya operation only briefly. He noted that U.S.,
European and other government officials met in Paris Saturday to
discuss the way ahead in Libya.
“Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear,” Obama
said. “The people of Libya must be protected and in the absence of
an immediate end to the violence against civilians our coalition is
prepared to act and to act with urgency.”
After the Paris meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi continued to defy the
will of the international community that he halt attack against
rebels. She said the U.S. will support the international military
coalition taking action to stop Gadhafi.
Clinton said “unique” American military capabilities will be
brought to bear in support of the coalition, and she reiterated
Obama’s pledge on Friday that no U.S. ground forces would get
involved. She was not more specific about U.S. involvement.
“We will support the enforcement” of the U.N. Security Council
resolution that was passed earlier in the week, she said. That
resolution authorized the imposition of a no-fly zone and use of
“all necessary” military force.
Among the U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean were two
guided-missile destroyers, the USS Barry and USS Stout, as well as
two amphibious warships, the USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce, and a
command-and-control ship, the USS Mount Whitney. The submarine USS
Providence was also in the Mediterranean.
Copyright Associated Press