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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 03/20/2011

Joint Chiefs chairman Mullen: ‘I would say that the no-fly zone is effectively in place’

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen provided an update regarding the military situation in Libya. “ I would say that the no-fly zone is effectively in place,” said Mullen, outlining the ultimate goal as being threefold: successfully establishing the no-fly zone, arresting Gaddafi’s ability to massacre his own people, and making possible the entry of humanitarian assistance into Libya.  

“While the United States leads this right now,” said Mullen, “we expect in the next few days to hand that leadership off to a coalition-led operation, and the United States recede somewhat to the background in support.” Asked if U.S. planes are in Libya now or would be, “I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re not going to have any airplanes over Libya in three or four days,” Mullen said.  

Asked whether the elimination of Gaddafi was one of the coalition’s goals, Mullen would not commit either way, instead reiterating the three-prong mission statement.  Mullen also demurred when asked whether military operations could end with Gaddafi still in power, saying that the long-term outcome could not yet be determined. “It’s just too early to say,” he said.

Both Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), giving their assessment of the situation in Libya, said president Obama waited too long to act in Libya. “It’s late, but it’s not too late,” said Lieberman, “if we act quickly together. “

“I regret that … we didn’t act much more quickly,” said McCain, adding “that’s not the point now. The point now is, let's get behind this effort, do everything we can to support it.”

“Now, time is not on Gaddafi’s side,” McCain said. “If he doesn't succeed in a relatively short period of time, he'll be driven back and, over time, I believe, defeated.” Lieberman followed that with a warning regarding the status of America’s image abroad, “If we don't work with our allies to make sure Gaddafi does go, America's credibility and prestige suffers all over the world.” 

By  |  10:20 AM ET, 03/20/2011

 
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