Coalition Operations over Libya

The United States had flown 449 sorties, including 222 strike sorties, as of mid Thursday US East Coast time, since the air campaign began over Libya last weekend, Vice Adm. William Gortney, Joint Staff director, told reporters during a Pentagon briefing. Coalition forces had flown a total of 310 missions, he said. Within the 24-hour period prior to the briefing, US aircraft flew at a hefty pace, completing 130 sorties, including 49 strike-related ones. In addition to interdiction, the sorties have comprised aerial refueling and intelligence-reconnaissance-surveillance support as well as combat air patrols. Gortney said there are 350 coalition combat aircraft involved, with slightly more than half belonging to the United States. Nine additional nations have publicly stated their involvement, while as many as four others are involved, but have not openly divulged their presence. Gortney said the coalition’s no-fly zone now spans across the northern portion of Libya. His briefing came just hours before NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that the alliance would assume command for the NFZ from the United States. (Gortney transcript) (See also AFPS report by Karen Parrish)