Gaddafi not the target, strikes in Libya successful
Washington: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is not the target of US-led coalition forces, a top Pentagon official said as he claimed the first two days of Operation Odyssey Dawn in the African nation was successful because they significantly hit the striking capabilities of the authoritarian regime there.
"At this particular point, I can guarantee that he (Gaddafi) is not on a targeting list," Vice Admiral William Gortney, Director of Joint Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.
"We are not going after Gaddafi."
"If he happens to be in a place -? if he`s inspecting a surface-to-air missile site, (and) we don`t have any idea that he`s there or not -? then, yeah. We are not targeting his residence at this time," Gortney responded on a news report from Libya that one of the residences of the Libyan leader in Tripoli was hit by a missile.
He said the main purpose of the US-led coalition forces is to implement the UNSC resolution No 1973 with regard to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.
"We judge these strikes have been very effective, significantly degrading the regimes aid defense capabilities to include their ability to launch many of their SA5s, which are the long range surface to air missiles — their SA-3s and SA-2s."
There has not been any new aircraft activity by the regime and the coalition forces have not detected any radar emissions from the air-defence sites targeted, he said. "There has been a significant decrease in the use of all Libyan air surveillance radars. These seem to be limited to the areas around Tripoli and Sert."
So far the US has fired 124 Tomahawk missiles on strategic air defence systems across Libya and the Pentagon official did not rule out any additional missile strikes against the Libyan regime in coming days.
Gortney also noted that there has been no loss to the coalition forces so far.
Three Air Force B-2 bombers attacked Libyan airfields, flattening the hardened shelters Libyan fighter-bombers use.
Coalition tactical fighters also hit Gaddafi?s ground forces on the outskirts of Benghazi, where 15 US Air Force, US Marine Corps, French and British aircraft participated in the action about 10 miles south of the opposition stronghold.
"We judge these also to have been highly successful at halting the regime ground movement in this region," Gortney said.
He, however, said the Libyan regime is still able to fly helicopters in the region.
The coalition includes Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Qatar, Belgium, Norway and Denmark. More nations will directly participate in the coalition, he said, and other nations will provide over flight rights, basing and logistics. "These countries will make their announcements at their own times."
The US, which is leading this international coalition, would gradually transfer the command to the coalition command, Gortney said, adding that the nation would shift to more of a support function that would include aerial tankers, electronic warfare aircraft, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and logistics.
"The US military has and will continue to use our unique capabilities to create the conditions from which we and our partners can best enforce the full measure of the UN mandate," he said, but refrained from giving a time line to it.
"If they (regime forces) no longer advance on Benghazi that would be a good sign," he said. The official had no information about the movement of Libyan troops.
Gortney said that the coalition is "not coordinating" with the rebel forces at this time.
"Shortly before I came here, the Arab League endorsed our enforcement of the no-fly zone," he said in response to a question. "We are in the process of enabling them (Arab nations), basing them, transporting them and getting them into the theater. One country which we have announced is Qatar. We are assisting in movement of those forces."