Catching up on news on Libya. Benghazi rebels are reportedly flying the Libyan flag used before the Gaddafi coup. The U.S. is considering adding attack aircraft to Libya. The rebel leader, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, says he has al-Qaeda on his front lines. Our ships and submarines are off-shore adding missile power to the fight to “protect” Libyan civilians, but we may become a part of the no-fly patrols in the sky, if we are not already. However. Look at this confusing statement reported by the AP, attributed to Navy Vice Admiral William Gortney:
[without quotation marks] Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney told a Pentagon news conference that for the second consecutive day, all air missions to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya were flown by non-U.S. aircraft, and U.S. planes conducted about half the missions attacking Libyan air defenses, missile sites and ground forces. Qatar became the first Arab nation to join the effort, flying F-16s in support of the no-fly zone.
[with quotation marks] “The division of labor between the U.S. and our partners has largely evened out,” Gortney said.
What does it mean to say all flights were non-U.S. aircraft, but the U.S. planes conducted half of them.? Am I too literal?
An article just up at WorldNetDaily’s G-2 by my friend Jim Simpson says Marines have had direct involvement in only two missions by Marine Harrier jets, one a rescue mission and a second against regime forces. If it’s a Harrier jet mission, I assume that means they are flying over Libya. The article quotes a Marine Captain who says he has already see a reduction in the number of U.S. planes involved in operations over Libya. So…we’re either flying over Libya or, we’re not.
After the announcement that NATO will take command, comes another puzzling statement by Gortney. This doesn’t jive with Hillary’s address to the nation last night. Gortney says there are three missions: 1) an arms embargo, 2) a no-fly zone and 3) protecting Libyan civilians. The command and control of the third mission has not been decided:
“This mission will remain in U.S. hands until such time as the coalition is ready to assume it,” Gortney told a briefing at the Pentagon. “My expectation is that it, too, could fall under NATO. But … these are decisions and discussions ongoing at the political level and I just would not speculate right now where it will end up.”
In other news, Qatar flew sorties with the French today and if you haven’t heard, we DO have boots on the ground, and have since before the air offensive began. France is upset that NATO will be the Command and Control of Operation Odyssey Dawn, and Muammar Gaddafi sent one of his own up to the skies to test just how serious the coalition is about keeping him grounded. How you like to be pilot of that plane? The Libyan jet was hit and downed. This report says the plane was “shot down and destroyed.” No word about the pilot.
NATO ships patrolled the coast to block the flow of arms and mercenaries, while other coalition bombers truck artillery, arms depots and parked helicopters, officials said.
In Tripoli, Libyan deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said that the “military compound at Juffra” was among the targets hit before dawn. Juffra is one of at least two air bases deep in Libya’s interior, on main routes that lead from neighboring countries in the Sahara region that have been suppliers of arms and fighters for the Gadhafi regime.
Benghazi rebels were seen waving the flags of Libya’s past – the flag from before Moammar Gadhafi’s rule.
The U.S. may give weapons to the rebels who may be al-Qaeda. About 25 al-Qaeda are fighting on the front lines of the rebel cause, according to the Libyan rebel leader, Abdel-Hakim al_Hasidi.
Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.
His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, “including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries”.
Being al-Qaeda and a good Muslim? Of course, but who knew you could be al-Qaeda and not be a terrorist?