As U.S. prepares to hand over the command and control of the military operation in Libya in the next few days, the Obama Administration has said that NATO would have a very important role to play in this regard.
“There is an agreement that NATO is going to play a very important role in the command and control,” said Ben Rhodes Deputy National Security Advisor, adding that the terms and timeline of the transition is still being discussed at NATO.
“The exact structure and relative participation of different countries is what they’re continuing to discuss, and they will do so, again, tomorrow. But again, I think this is going to be a matter of days in which you see a movement towards a transition with regard to command and control,” he told White House correspondents travelling with the U.S. President on their way back from Latin American to the U.S.
“You already see an increase in the extent to which the no-fly zone, the enforcement of the no-fly zone piece of the effort in Libya right now is being undertaken by allies and partners. You see, again, a number of allies stepping up with different contributions as well,” he said, adding that the U.S. and its international partners are working through the command and control issue.
Referring to the reports coming from Libya, Mr. Rhodes said in recent days Qadhafi’s own forces that had been advancing at a very rapid pace across Libya are no longer making those advances. They are no longer moving towards Benghazi and in fact are pulling back
“You have similar instances around the different parts of the country where, again, his forces are facing a challenge that they didn’t before, and it’s affecting their ability to harm the Libyan people,” he said.
The White House is closely watching the political situation in Libya. “We certainly saw the comments that came out from him yesterday. But what is clear is that he is no longer advancing in a way that poses the same threat to the Libyan people as it did a week ago,” he said.
Mr. Rhodes said that there are a set of military units that are particularly close to Mr. Qadhafi, that have been playing an important role.
“There’s also been clearly the use of mercenaries as well. And that’s, for instance, why the UN Security Council resolution also authorizes actions to try to work with the neighbouring governments to try to prevent the flow of mercenaries into Libya so that he cannot draw upon that as a source going forward,” he said.