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Posted by on Mar 19, 2011 in Breaking News, International, Law, Places, Politics, War | 0 comments

Coalition Forces Launch “Operation Odyssey Dawn” Against Libya (UPDATED)

UPDATE, March 27

The New York Times reports this morning on the Libyan rebels “first major victory since American and European airstrikes began a week ago.”

The rebels’ advance was the first sign that the allied attacks, directed not only against Colonel Qaddafi’s aircraft and defenses but also against his ground troops, were changing the dynamics of the battle for control of the country. As night fell, rebel forces had recaptured Ajdabiya, a crucial hub city in eastern Libya, and had also driven almost uncontested to the town of Brega, erasing weeks of losses as the airstrikes opened the way.

And,

There was evidence on Saturday that the allied military effort was having an effect not just in the rebel-held east, but in the west as well. France reported that it had struck at the Libyan military airfield near Misurata, destroying several aircraft on the ground. Rebel commanders in Misurata, where Libya’s military has kept up a tight siege against the last opposition redoubt in the western part of the country, said the allied airstrikes had allowed them to hold out.

Read More Here

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UPDATE: 17:26 ET, March 20, 2011

The BBC:

Loud blasts have been heard in the Libyan capital Tripoli, witnesses say, as allied forces resume operations to enforce a no-fly zone.

A plume of smoke was seen rising from the area near the compound of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

A US military spokesman said the coalition were not targeting Col Gaddafi or his residence.

In an afternoon Pentagon briefing, US Vice Adm William Gortney said coalition raids were “judged to have been very effective” and no new Libyan air activity had been reported.

He also mentioned that B-2 bombers had participated in the attacks and that all SA-2, SA-3 and SA-5 fixed surface-to-air missile installations had been “taken out.” The coalition has not gone after mobile ground-to-air missile systems, but the no-fly zone is effectively in place and working.

When asked if additional air strikes were contemplated, the Admiral replied, “when and if the need arises.”

He also believes that Gadaffi’s forces “are under considerable stress and suffering from isolation and a good deal of confusion.”

Back to the BBC:

Meanwhile, Qatar is to send four planes to join the coalition enforcing the UN-mandated no-fly zone, the US and France have said.

The move would make Qatar the first Arab country to play an active part in the campaign against Col Gaddafi, who has been battling a month-long revolt.

Other Arab countries are also preparing to join the campaign against Col Gaddafi, Vice Adm Gortley said, adding that those governments would make their own announcements in due course.

Meanwhile, the build-up of forces to enforce the no-fly zone continues. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has left the Mediterranean port of Toulon for Libya.

Denmark and Norway are each sending six planes. Spain has sent at least three planes, plus a refueling aircraft, while Italy also has jets ready to deploy.

Read more here

UPDATE: 14:31 ET, March 20

The BBC:

French jets have begun a second day of operations over Libya to enforce a no-fly zone against Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

The 15 planes patrolled Libyan airspace but did not open fire because they met no resistance, a spokesman said.

TV pictures from the capital, Tripoli, later showed anti-aircraft fire. Some of it was near Col Gaddafi’s residence, the AFP news agency reported.

France also says Qatar is to about to deploy four planes to the operation.

The move would make Qatar the first Arab country to play an active part in the campaign against Col Gaddafi, who has been battling a month-long revolt.

Spain, Italy, Denmark and Norway have also committed more military assets.

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The head of the Arab League, who supported the idea of a no-fly zone, has criticised the severity of the bombardment.

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US military chief Adm Mike Mullen said the initial raids had been “successful”.

US fighter planes and B-2 stealth bombers were involved, Pentagon officials said.

While Libyan government sources claim many civilian casualties, “There was no independent confirmation of the deaths and UK Finance Minister George Osborne told the BBC that such claims should be treated with caution as the military was striving to avoid civilian casualties…Adm Mullen also said he had not received any reports of civilian deaths or injuries.”

The BBC’s Kevin Connolly, in the rebel-held eastern city of Tobruk, says that once the air-defence systems are taken out, combat aircraft can patrol Libyan airspace more widely. It will then become clear to what extent they will attack Col Gaddafi’s ground forces.

This will determine the outcome of the campaign, he adds.

Read More Here

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UPDATE: 08:09 ET, March 20

Some preliminary damage assessment on coalition enforcement of no-fly zone in Libya—from the BBC (“Coalition military planners will be urgently studying satellite and other reconnaissance imagery to determine how much damage has been done to Col Gaddafi’s air defences and to see if some targets may have to be hit again.”):

The raids were “successful”, US military chief Adm Mike Mullen said.

The strikes “took out” Libya’s air-defence systems, he told NBC’s Meet the Press programme, saying a no-fly zone was now effectively in place.

US fighter planes and B-2 stealth bombers were also involved in the overnight raids early on Sunday, Pentagon officials said.

Cruise missiles hit at least 20 air-defence sites in the capital, Tripoli, and the western city of Misrata, they said.

These are some of the coalition forces involved in “Odyssey Dawn”:

• US: Firing guided missiles from USS Barry and USS Stout; providing amphibious warships, and command-and-control ship USS Mount Whitney

• France: Carried out mission with at least 12 warplanes including Mirage fighters and Rafale jets; deploying aircraft carrier, warships

• UK: Providing Typhoon and Tornado jet fighters; surveillance planes; HMS Westminster and HMS Cumberland; submarines

• Italy: Nato base at Naples understood to be central hub; other Mediterranean bases made available

Read More Here

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Original Post:

The Pentagon has just reported that US and coalition vessels off Libya have fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles against approximately 20 Libyan command and control and air defense targets and military airfields. These actions, along with the earlier French aircraft strikes against Libyan military vehicles are the opening phase of “Odyssey Dawn” the international operation to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

According to Bloomberg.com:

A coalition of as many as 25 U.S., Canadian, and Italian vessels, including the USS Mount Whitney command vessel, led an attack that included U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles and aerial jamming, according to a Pentagon official who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

The military armada includes three Navy submarines, the USS Florida, USS Scranton, and USS Providence, according to the Pentagon. The Florida is also equipped to carry Navy Seal commandos for ground operations.

The following is a Department of Defense press release:

Coalition Launches ‘Odyssey Dawn’ to Implement No-fly Zone

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2011 – Coalition forces launched “Operation Odyssey Dawn” today to enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan people from the country’s ruler.

The goal of the military coalition is to prevent further attacks by regime forces on Libyan citizens, officials said, adding that the coalition also wants to degrade the ability of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime to resist a no-fly zone being implemented.

U.S. military forces are on the leading edge of the coalition operation, taking out Libya’s integrated air and missile defense system, Defense Department officials said. The ordnance is aimed at radars and anti-aircraft sites around the capital of Tripoli and other facilities along the Mediterranean coast.

Operation Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear aboard the command ship USS Mount Whitney. The Mount Whitney joins 24 other ships from Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom and France in launching the operation.

Cruise missiles from U.S. submarines and frigates began the attack on the anti-aircraft system. A senior defense official speaking on background said the attacks will “open up the environment so we could enforce the no-fly zone from east to west throughout Libya.”

In addition to the cruise missiles, the United States will provide command and control and logistics. American airmen and sailors also will launch electronic attacks against the systems.

The United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada already have announced that they are part of the coalition. Officials expect Arab countries will publicly announce their participation soon.

Image: Tomahawk Cruise Missile Launch (Pentagon)

See video here (Turn volume down)