Target: Libya

By Christopher J. Castelli / March 31, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Darryn James yesterday provided an update on the number of strikes and sorties in the U.S. and coalition military operations against Libya's government (as of 6:00 a.m. EST March 30).

He said that in the last 24 hours the U.S. military fired two Tomahawk missiles and coalition and U.S. forces conducted 188 sorties -- 102 of which were "strike" sorties (61 by coalition aircraft; 41 by U.S. aircraft). Also in the last 24 hours, NATO conducted 19 defensive counterair sorties, all in support of the no-fly zone (no U.S. flights are counted in NATO/Operation Unified Protector numbers), he said.

For the overall operation in Libya, coalition forces have conducted 784 stories (including 489 strikes) and U.S. forces have conducted 1,206 (including 463 strikes), he said, noting U.S. forces have launched a total of 216 Tomahawk missiles and coalition forces have launched seven. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen are testifying this morning before the House Armed Services Committee concerning the intervention in Libya. In his opening statement, Gates said the security and prosperity of the United States is linked to the security and prosperity of the broader Middle East.

“I believe it was in America’s national interests -- as part of a multilateral coalition with broad international support -- to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Eastern Libya that could have destabilized the entire region at a delicate time,” Gates said. “And, it continues to be in our national interest to prevent Qadhafi from visiting further depredations on his own people, destabilizing his neighbors, and setting back the progress the people of the Middle East have made in recent weeks.”