Divining Intent Over Libya in Unified Protector

The NATO air campaign over Libya required extensive discussions on targeting and intent amongst all the participants in the initial weeks and months of the 2011 mission, the campaign’s air component commander said during an AFA Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event on Thursday. Retired Lt. Gen. Ralph Jodice, who now serves as a senior mentor for NATO air leaders, was the NATO Combined Forces Air Component Commander over Libya from March 17 until Oct. 31, 2011. He said the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which approved “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from then-dictator Mummar Gaddafi’s forces, was just the beginning of refining the mission’s mandate and intent. Most importantly, Jodice noted, OUP had to stick to its mandate of protecting civilians, and thus eschewed infrastructure targets mostly in favor of command and control nodes and weapons caches. NATO divided fighters into “pro-Gaddafi” and “anti-Gaddafi” forces, and assigned air tasks accordingly. The Alliance did not want to “get in the middle of a pickup truck versus pickup truck war,” Jodice said, and targeting was extensively scrutinized as a result. In the first few days, a multiple rocket launch artillery battery was outside the city of Misrata, but NATO did not hit it because it was not firing at civilians. “It took us a few weeks to work through that,” he said.