In a Saturday afternoon press conference from Brasilia, Brazil, President Obama announced that the United States would be joining a “broad coalition” taking immediate military action in Libya. The president indicated that using force is not his first choice, that as recently as yesterday the international community offered Gaddafi the option of a cease fire, which was rejected.
“Despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. The attacks on his own people continue,” Obama said.
At a Pentagon press briefing, US Vice Admiral William Gortney announced that the purpose of the military action (nicknamed “Operation Odyssey Dawn”) was to prevent further attacks on citizens by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, to degrade the regime’s ability to violate the no-fly zone, and to target sites that might pose a threat to coalition pilots or the Libyan people.
Tomahawk missiles have been fired at some 20 targets in the region. No ground troops have been authorized and Gortney states there are no plans for the use of force “beyond our well-defined goal”. Other nations providing forces in the coalition include Canada, Italy, and the UK.