Obama flatly rejects the possibility of a ground invasion to remove Gadhafi from power Wednesday. He made these remarks at a press conference in San Salvador this morning. Obama has been under heavy criticisms on the endgame strategy, and the downing of a US F-15 yesterday did not help. If anything, it brought to light the political danger Obama faces as he is gearing up for reelection in 2012.
The reality n the ground in Libya shows an entirely different scenario. Coalition forces launched a fifth day of air strikes against government military targets in the North African nation.
And Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he can’t predict how long the no-fly zone operation will last, but that the U.S. could turn over control of it as early as Saturday.
Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber, a top U.S. officer in the campaign in Libya, said international forces were attacking government troops that have been storming population centers.
“From Benghazi, which we now believe to be under opposition control, we have moved west to Ajdabiya,” Heuber told Pentagon reporters by phone from the U.S. command ship in the Mediterranean sea.
And from Ajdabiya to Misrata, the coalition’s “targeting priorities” included Gadhafi’s mechanized forces, mobile surface-to-air missile sites and lines of communications that supply “their beans and their bullets,” Hueber said.
Earlier, officials said missiles from F-15 fighter jets destroyed Gadhafi missile sites around Tripoli and that international forces also struck a government ammunition depot outside Misrata and ground forces outside Ajdabiya. Residents in Misrata said coalition attacks forced government troops to withdraw tanks there.
Obama was asked in an interview with the Spanish-language network Univision if a land invasion would be out of the question in the event air strikes fail to dislodge Gadhafi from power. Obama replied that it was “absolutely” out of the question.
Asked what the exit strategy is, he didn’t lay out a vision for ending the international action, but rather said: “The exit strategy will be executed this week in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment.”
“We’ll still be in a support role, we’ll still be providing jamming, and intelligence and other assets that are unique to us, but this is an international effort that’s designed to accomplish the goals that were set out in the Security Council resolution,” Obama said.