Details of emerging no-fly operation and NATO flotilla


From the AP:  Military experts say coordinating the enforcement of a no-fly zone over a nation the size of Libya requires a specialized and experienced staff of several hundred people. The U.N. Security Council authorized the no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians after leader Moammar Gadhafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who wanted him to leave after 42 years in power.

The mission to provide round-the-clock coverage of Libyan airspace would require not just fighter planes patrolling the skies, but also attack jets armed with anti-radar missiles to suppress any threat from the ground. It would entail several aerial tankers flying circular patterns over the Mediterranean to refuel the warplanes. At least one and probably two AWACS airborne surveillance and control aircraft would also have to be nearby to monitor and coordinate the entire operation.
The United States is one of the few nations with the operational headquarters capable of controlling such a complex mission. None of NATO’s European members have that capability and therefore rely on the alliance to provide it.
If NATO assumes responsibility for the enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya and the U.N. arms embargo against Libya, this would be controlled from NATO’s operational center in Naples, a NATO official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the press.
The allies agreed Tuesday to organize the naval mission, which initially will consist of two NATO naval flotillas that routinely patrol the Mediterranean. They are made up of two frigates, six minesweepers and a supply ship. The NATO official said more nations are likely to contribute warships in coming days.
The operation will be similar to a naval mission [Operation Sharp Guard] carried out by NATO ships in the Adriatic Sea during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia that also enforced an arms embargo.  (photo:

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