By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Morrell, who has just returned from accompanying Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to NATO for discussions on the situation in
North Africa, said NATO defense ministers agreed “to continue planning for any and all military options, including a no-fly zone.”
What happens with the no-fly zone will depend on a political decision that has not been made yet, Morrell said.
“However, as we saw over the weekend, now the Arab League is calling for it,” he added. “So that will undoubtedly factor into the decision-making of the president and other European leaders as they go forward.”
Three American ships remain off the Libyan coast: the USS Kearsarge, the USS Ponce and the USS Barry. Other NATO nations also have positioned ships in the
“But remember,” Morrell said, “this is to monitor the arms embargo that the U.N. put in place, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance if needed.”
If the decision is made to establish a no-fly zone, the
military can make it work, Morrell said. U.S.
“I don't think this has ever been a question of can we do this,” he said. “I mean, this is the
military. Even though we have significant commitments in United States and Iraq and elsewhere around the world, Secretary Gates has made it abundantly clear we can do this.” Afghanistan
NATO allies would help, Morrell noted. “It’s important that we not do it alone,” he said. “But this is not a question of ‘can.’ It’s a question of whether we should. And that’s a decision that the president will make at some point.”
Meanwhile, two more
military flights flew Egyptian civilians home from U.S. over the weekend, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said today. Tunisia
A March 12 flight out of Djerba airlifted 60 Egyptians back to
, and a flight yesterday had 79 passengers. The Egyptians escaped fighting inside Cairo and were stranded in Libya . Tunisia
To date, 13 such flights have airlifted 982 passengers, Lapan said. The C-130 flights began March 5, and there are none scheduled today, he added.