American Forces Press Service
- Does Gadhafi maintain command capability with his regime’s remaining forces?
- Are opposition forces able to provide security and confront challenges that may arise?
Joining Panetta in NATO Headquarters’ Luns Auditorium were Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, supreme allied commander Europe.
The decision won’t be based on “a set series of precise metrics,” Stavridis said during the press conference. “It’s rather a sense of the situation, and it will follow the guidelines that the secretary laid out.”
Ultimately the recommendations will be moved into the NATO political sphere for final determination, Stavridis said.
At his own final press conference of the ministerial, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the end is in sight for Libya operations.
“Gadhafi’s forces are fighting for a lost cause, the threat to civilians is fading away [and] the recent positive developments in Libya are irreversible,” he said.
NATO is determined to pursue the operation as long as fighting persists in Sirte, and end the operation as soon as political and military conditions are fulfilled, Rasmussen said.
European allies and Canada took on the operation’s leadership and supplied the main effort, Rasmussen said.
“This was new,” he added, “it was welcome and could act as a model for the future.”
Libya’s new leadership faces huge political challenges, the secretary-general said, “but basically we’re confident that the National Transitional Council can manage a peaceful transition to democracy.”
Rasmussen does not foresee a major NATO role after the mission ends, he said.
Libya’s accomplishment “will be an extremely important signal to other countries in the region,” Panetta said, showing that as a result of the Arab Spring, any country can “move in the right direction to secure human rights, [implement] political and economic reform, and establish a better future for their people.”