Udall Urges Swift Transfer of Command in Libya to NATO
Today, as international coalition forces continued to make progress in their push to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, Mark Udall reiterated his belief that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi gave the international community no choice but to launch military action. But Udall, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Intelligence committees, added that he has a number of concerns about the future of the U.S. role in the conflict. Ultimately, he believes the responsibility for the enforcement must be turned over to NATO soon. Importantly, he said he will not support American ground troops in Libya.
Udall’s full statement follows:
“As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, I’m continuing to monitor the situation in Libya very closely, and I have received briefings from the administration about U.S. military operations in support of the Libyan people.
“Last week, with the situation on the ground rapidly changing for the worse for the rebel forces and the Libyan people, the president had to make a relatively quick decision to act. I support his decision, but I’m concerned that there is still no plan in place for the United States to transfer operational command to NATO or another coalition country. I’m encouraged by new reports that NATO may well take over the operation and I urge that transfer to move swiftly.
“The president has consulted with Congress on these operations – however – I also believe he has an obligation to provide Congress and the American public with ongoing updates and more details about the mission and the United States’ role in enforcing the United Nations resolution.
“A protracted and deepening U.S. engagement in Libya is neither affordable nor is it in our long-term strategic interests. Ultimately this is not our fight. As the administration has stated, our military objective – and that of the United Nations – is to help the people of Libya by leveling the playing field and making this a fair fight. But in the end, it is the Libyan people who must determine their future.
“As we go forward, I have a number of concerns; among them: that the administration isn’t sufficiently prepared to deal with the possible outcomes of this action. A Libya with Qaddafi still in charge is a potentially greater security threat to the United States, while a stalemate could divide Libya and leave a power vacuum in an already unstable region. And we can only hope that if Qaddafi leaves the scene, the alternative will be a regime we can support.
“I’m also concerned that ultimately boots on the ground will be called for – and I am strongly opposed to U.S. troops playing that role. I am anxious to hear details very soon about how the United States plans to transition primary responsibility to NATO for this operation. It’s time for the president to address some of these concerns and to provide more information to the American people. I look forward to hearing more specifically from him in the coming days.”