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Mar 19th, 2011

Missiles Strike Libya in First Wave of Allied Assault

Gadhafi vows to defend against ‘colonial, crusader’ aggression


U.S., allies launch military strikes inside Libya (NBC Nightly News, March 19, 2011) — Following air strikes by French fighter jets, U.S. and British navy vessels launched at least 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, striking over 20 targets along Libya’s Mediterranean coast. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports. (03:05)

NBC, The Associated Press, and Reuters via
March 19, 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya — A coalition of American and European forces bombed Libyan targets by air and sea Saturday in the first phase of a military campaign to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power. [Note: U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 approves a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect civilians; it does not specifically authorize regime change.]

French warplanes fired the first shots in the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war, destroying government tanks and armored vehicles in the region of the rebels’ eastern stronghold, Benghazi. Hours later, British and U.S. warships and submarines launched more than 110 Tomahawk missiles against Gadhafi’s air defenses around the capital Tripoli and the western city of Misrata, which has been besieged by Gadhafi’s forces, Pentagon officials said. …

The aim of the coalition’s operation, dubbed Odyssey Dawn, was to enforce a United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya and stop Gadhafi from attacking overwhelmed rebel forces in the east.

“This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought,” President Barack Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” …

The Western coalition included the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and Italy. …

The U.S. vessels involved in launching the Tomahawks were two destroyers — USS Barry and USS Stout — and three submarines — USS Providence, USS Scranton and USS Florida. One British sub, the Westminster, also launched missiles. …

The commencement of the allied military campaign came on the eight-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. On March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush addressed the nation at 10:16 p.m. from the Oval Office, telling Americans that coalition forces “have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war.” …

Full story


3/22/11 Update

U.S. Fighter Jet Crashes During Libya Mission


U.S. fighter jet crashes in Libya (NBC “Today,” March 22, 2011) — A mechanical error, not hostile fire, likely caused the crash of a U.S. Air Force fighter jet in Libya, according to a spokesman for the U.S. military. One of the crew members was quickly found with another expected to be recovered soon after. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (01:10)

The Associated Press, Reuters, and NBC News via
March 22, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya — A U.S. fighter jet crashed in Libya after an apparent equipment malfunction but both crewmembers were able to eject and are back safely in American hands, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The plane crashed Monday at 2130 GMT (5:30 p.m. EDT), said Vince Crawley, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command.

A spokesman for the Libyan opposition, Mohammed Ali, said the U.S. plane crashed about 25 miles southwest of the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city.

A Marine Corps Osprey search and rescue aircraft retrieved the pilot, while the second crew member, a weapon’s officer, was recovered by rebel forces and is now in American hands, another U.S. official said in Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

The two were separated after ejecting from the crippled F-15E Strike Eagle jet at high altitude and drifting down to different locations, Crawley said, adding they sustained minor injuries.

One of the airmen landed in a field and approached a crowd of people, not knowing whether they were supporters of Moammar Gadhafi or members of the opposition, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.

It turned out they were locals who opposed the Libyan leader, the paper said. “I hugged him and said, ‘Don’t be scared, we are your friends,'” witness Younis Amruni told the Telegraph.

Locals reportedly lined up to shake the airman’s hands in thanks.

“We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies,” Amruni said. “We gave him juice and then the revolutionary military people took him away.” …

Full story


Related reports on this site

A pilot (L) is ejected from a Libyan jet bomber as it crashes after being hit over Benghazi
A warplane plummets to the ground after reportedly being shot down by anti-Gadhafi forces over Benghazi, Libya, on Saturday, March 19, 2011. NBC News reported the fighter jet was commandeered by rebel forces and the cause of the crash unknown. The pilot is seen ejecting from the cockpit shortly before impact. (Photo credit: Anja Niedringhaus / AP / AFP)

NATO Ultimatum to Gadhafi (March 18, 2011)

Libya No-Fly Zone, Airstrikes Imminent (March 17, 2011)

Libyan Rebels Advance on Tripoli (March 5, 2011)

Gadhafi Steers Libya to Civil War (Feb. 22, 2011)

Deadly Crackdown in Libya (Feb. 20, 2011)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 19, 2010

Iraq — Seven Years On

Image: A man walks past a wreckage of an Iraqi military vehicle in Baghdad
The wreckage of an Iraqi military vehicle destroyed during the air campaign in the early stages of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 still scars the landscape. Seven years after the first bombs fell, Iraqis went about their business Friday, March 19, 2010 with little observance of the anniversary. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)

One year ago today, I reported that seven years after the first bombs in the war to oust Saddam Hussein, Iraqis went about their business with little observance of the anniversary, looking to the future with a mixture of trepidation and hope.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — March 19, 2009

Iraq — Six Years After

NBC News

Two years ago today, on March 19, 2009, I reported that six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 — March 19 in the United States — the end of America’s costly mission was in sight, but the future of Iraq much less clear.

7 Responses to “Libya Air War Begins”
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