The United States had no intention to send its ground forces into Libya; however, it remained noncommittal about the extent of involvement of CIA in Libyan operations, it was revealed to Congress this week.

Testifying before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that as long as he was on the job there would not be any plan for U.S. soldiers to enter Libya.

However Mr. Gates refused to spell out details of the CIA's activities, following reports on Thursday that the U.S. spy agency was already on Libyan soil.

Limited role

Reiterating the oft-stated U.S. claim that involvement would be “limited,” he added that the new mission in Libya, codenamed “Operation Unified Protector,” was under to an integrated NATO command and the U.S. military would only provide “the capabilities that others cannot provide either in kind or in scale,” including electronic warfare, aerial refuelling, lift, search and rescue, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.

Mr. Gates in his Congressional testimony said, “Accordingly, we will, in coming days, significantly ramp down our commitment of other military capabilities and resources,”.

He added that deposing the Qadhafi regime would likely be achieved “over time through political and economic measures and by his own people.”

Earlier this week reports, quoting unnamed government officials, surfaced in U.S. media “small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qadhafi's military.”

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