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NATO makes smooth transition in Libya operations

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The transition from the U.S.-led Operation Odyssey Dawn to the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector has occurred seamlessly, British Royal Navy Rear Adm. Russell Harding said in Naples, Italy, April 6.

The NATO mission has the equipment and capabilities needed to protect the Libyan people, maintain the no-fly zone over Libya and enforce the munitions blockade of the country, Admiral Harding said.

U.S. aircraft and ships are in support of the NATO operation and American aircraft are not flying airstrikes against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

NATO officials said the attacks have degraded Colonel Gadhafi's forces by 30 percent. However, Gadhafi's forces now are trying to blend with road traffic and use civilians as shields. NATO forces are now adjusting to this change.

"These strikes achieved their main effect, reducing the capacity of government forces to threaten the lives or besiege the cities of the Libyan people," Admiral Harding said.

The NATO effort fields more than 100 fighter and support aircraft in action as well as a dozen naval vessels from several nations, the admiral said.

"We have achieved a seamless transition ... and are resolved to demonstrate the same commitment and effectiveness," Admiral Harding said. "NATO is operating under a very clear international legal mandate and with broad regional support. It will take action against any party that threatens aggression or violence or acts in contravention" of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

Article by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service