April 6, 2011
Full text of speech given at the Press Conference held in Naples on April 6 by Rear Admiral Russell Harding OBE, Deputy Commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR.
Acting under UN mandate, the NATO mission has maintained enforcement of the air and maritime embargo on Libya, has enforced the No-Fly Zone and has moved with determination to protect the people of Libya from attack.
On 1 April, the NATO-led international coalition force of naval vessels, submarines and aircraft commenced strikes against mobile military sites and air defence systems along the Libyan coast.
This action prevents attack on Alliance aircraft allowing for enforcement of the No-Fly Zone, and prevents the use of heavy weaponry against Libyan civilians whom the government famously told could expect ‘no mercy’.
This action has been directed by General Bouchard to slow down advancing forces, in order to prevent attacks on Libyan civilians and to support the wider international effort to end the fighting within the framework of UNSCR 1973.
These strikes achieved their main effect, reducing the capacity of government forces to threaten the lives or besiege the cities of the Libyan people.
Indeed, we believe we have reduced by up to 30% the Libyan military capacity which has been mobilized for aggressive action. We have also rendered their air force inoperative and we have seriously degraded their air defences.
I would remind you that it is Col Gadhafi who has stated he will show no mercy to his own population, and it is his military that has shelled civilians, bombed cities and continues to threaten innocents.
Again, we will attack any forces that mean harm to the civilian population.
Thank you very much indeed for taking the time to visit our facility today. We continue to carry out our mission to protect the people of Libya during this conflict.
As you can understand, I do have to attend to my duties but I can take a few questions.