USS MOUNT WHITNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- As part of an international coalition force aimed at stopping the violence against Libyan civilians, U.S. military ships, submarines and aircraft commenced strikes against military sites and surface-to-air defense systems along the Libyan coast March 19.
The purpose of these strikes is to set the conditions for the international coalition to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and to take measures to prevent attacks on the Libyan people, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
President Barack Obama authorized the offensive operation by U.S. forces in order to implement a no-fly zone over Libya. The goal is to stop the violence against civilians in Libya and assist Libyan citizens in working toward a rapid resolution to the crisis.
The strikes commenced at 7 p.m. CET, and continued through to the morning, with a total of 19 sorties flown, and 124 U.S. and U.K. Tomahawk land-to-air missiles launched, with 20 targets hit with various levels of damage.
"These measures were taken in order to prevent further attacks against Libyan civilians," said Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, III, commander, Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn. "The international community strongly condemns the use of violence against Libyan civilians. We are committed, first and foremost, to the protection and safety of the Libyan people while promoting a resolution to the crisis."
U.S military assets that participated in the strikes include: two U.S. Navy ships and three submarines; 15 U.S. Air Force aircraft, including the B-2 Spirit Bomber and four U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers, all of which launched strikes against targets in Libya. These targets include SA-5, 5A-3 and 5A-2 air defense systems around Libyan airfields and various munitions sites.
Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is commanded by Locklear, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and is operating from the USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20).
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.