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Archive for Friday, April 22, 2011

Obama OKs use of armed drones in Libya

April 22, 2011

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— President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed drones in Libya, authorizing U.S. airstrikes on ground forces for the first time since America turned over control of the operation to NATO on April 4.

It also is the first time that drones will be used for airstrikes since the conflict began on March 19, although they have routinely been flying surveillance missions, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Thursday.

He said the U.S. will provide up to two 24-hour combat air patrols each day by the unmanned Predators.

Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the drones can help counteract the pro-Gadhafi forces’ tactic of traveling in civilian vehicles that make it difficult to distinguish them from rebel forces.

“What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions,” Cartwright said. “They are uniquely suited for urban areas.”

He added, “It’s very difficult to pick friend from foe. So a vehicle like the Predator that can get down lower and can get IDs better helps us.“

Gates rejected the notion that the approval of drone strikes means that the U.S. will slowly get pulled back into a more active combat role, despite Obama’s promise to merely provide support.

U.S. forces played a lead role in the early days of the conflict, launching an onslaught of cruise missiles and bombs on Gadhafi’s surface-to-air missiles sites and advancing regime troops.

But with American forces stretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the humanitarian operations in Japan, the Pentagon turned the mission over to NATO, saying it would only do limited airstrikes to take out air defenses. The U.S., said Obama, would no longer do airstrikes to protect the civilian population.

Gates said that bringing in the Predators will give NATO a critical capability that the U.S. can uniquely contribute.

“I think this is a very limited additional role on our part, but it does provide some additional capabilities to NATO,” said Gates. “And if we can make a modest contribution with these armed Predators, we’ll do it. ... I don’t think any of us sees that as mission creep.”

He said Obama has been clear that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground and that the main strike role would belong to the allies.

The first Predator mission since Obama’s go-ahead was flown Thursday but the aircraft — armed with Hellfire missiles — turned back due to poor weather conditions without firing any of its munitions, Cartwright said.

Comments

DeaconBlue 2 years, 12 months ago

It is appropriate that he uses drones. He has been using drones to run the country and look how that is turning out.

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Blessed4x 2 years, 12 months ago

I forget, has Obama went to Congress and asked permission to do any of this yet?

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kristopherfisk 2 years, 12 months ago

If it was Bush doing it, there would be mass protests. The 'peaceful' anti-war protesters would be blocking roads, tipping cars over, screaming 'No blood for oil!' and throwing trashcans through store windows.
Where is Code Pink on this one?

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deathpenaltyliberal 2 years, 12 months ago

I see the GOP haters want it both ways.

He either needs to send in troops because Gadhafi is a bad actor. Or he should keep the US out of it.

Frankly, he's doing the right thing by minimizing the cost to the US, while still taking part in an international effort to get rid of a dictator. As bad as Gadhafi is, his removal is not worth one drop of American blood.

The neocons who think otherwise are free to travel to Libya and join the rebels on their own dime.

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pizzapete 2 years, 12 months ago

Better to use drones than US soldiers.

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justanotherface 2 years, 12 months ago

This war is unconsitutional to begin with. IMPEACH OBAMA!!!!!!!

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Ricky_Vaughn 2 years, 12 months ago

How long until Skynet becomes self-aware?

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whatthehell 2 years, 12 months ago

Snap and Dop... more nonsense. The Drones are perfect to support the NATO mission. They stay on station longer, can get closer and have the ability to strike targets close-in that are threatening rebel positions and civilian population. You are ridiculing just for the fun of it without having logical, supportable argument and it isn't really helpful or meaningful in any way. As far as mission creep goes... other countries are in fact guilty to some extent by sending advisers but so far we have not (with the possible exception that we have been told intelligence assets have been upgraded, which makes sense that we would try and get a better picture of what is going on).

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whatthehell 2 years, 12 months ago

What? President Obama wants OUT of the war business, he had nothing to do with GITMO (except having difficulty getting the prisoners there moved and tried in court). It has been pretty clear from the beginning that he want the US to have little or nothing to do with conflict in Lybia. Your post makes no sense.

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DeaconBlue 2 years, 12 months ago

How many more will Obama kill? How many more people will he torture at GITMO. Sure Obama is a peace prize laureate. But, how much more of a piece of Lybia can I afford.

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