– U.S. forces STILL flying hundreds of bombing raids over Libya as Obama says America is only playing a limited role (Daily Mail, July 2, 2011):
U.S. forces are still flying hundreds of bombing raids over Libya even though the Obama administration claims that American armed forces are only playing a limited role in the conflict.
Since NATO’s Operation Unified Protector took over from the American-led Operation Odyssey Dawn on 31 March, the U.S. has flown hundreds of strike missions, according to United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The White House originally claimed that U.S. planes were mostly providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and played down the number of bombing raids.
However AFRICOM spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple said: ‘U.S. aircraft continue to fly support missions, as well as strike sorties under NATO tasking.
‘Since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties…Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.’
A White House report on the Libya conflict sent to Congress on 15 June says that ‘American strikes are limited to the suppression of enemy air defense and occasional strikes by unmanned Predator UAVs against a specific set of targets.’
The report also said the U.S. provides an ‘alert strike package.’
The U.S. has mainly been deploying the Air Force’s F-16CJ and Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircrafts in Libya, according to Ms Dalrymple.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told the Air Force Times that it was not surprising that the U.S. is conducting strike missions.
He said: ‘It’s no surprise to me that we’ve been participating, because we’re a member of NATO.’
The news comes as a debate rages in Washington over the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which calls for the president to ask Congress for permission to deploy American forces into combat for a period longer than 60 days.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, now associate director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security said: ‘It’s not necessarily a violation of the War Powers Resolution.
‘It does raise questions about the scope and intensity of our participation versus how it’s been represented.’
However Robert Turner, co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia said: ‘Legally, this is his discretion, but he is in clear violation of the statute.
‘The reason he’s not bound by that is because the statute is clearly unconstitutional.’
The Obama administration has said that the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the Libya operation because the U.S. role is limited.