Operation Unified Protector
The operation started on 23 March 2011 and gradually expanded during the following weeks, by integrating more and more elements of the multinational military intervention
, which had started on 19 March in response to the same UN resolutions. As of 31 March 2011 it encompassed all international operations in Libya
. NATO support was vital to the rebel victory over the forces loyal to Gaddafi. The operation officially ended on 31 October 2011, after the rebel leaders, formalized in the National Transitional Council
, had declared Libya liberated on 23 October.
The operation began with a naval arms embargo, while command of the no-fly zone
and the air strikes against Libyan Armed Forces
remained under command of the international coalition, led by France
, the United Kingdom
and the United States
, due to lack of consensus between NATO members.
On 24 March NATO decided to take control of the no-fly zone
enforcement, by integrating the air assets of the international coalition under NATO command, although the command of air strikes on ground targets remained under national authority.
A few days later, on 27 March NATO decided to implement all military aspects of the UN resolution and formal transfer of command occurred at 06:00 GMT
on 31 March 2011, formally ending the national operations such as the U.S.-coordinated Operation Odyssey Dawn
The arms embargo was initially carried out using mainly ships from NATO's Standing Maritime Group 1
and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1
already patrolling the Mediterranean Sea
at the time of the resolution, enforced with additional ships, submarines and maritime surveillance aircraft from NATO members. They were to "monitor, report and, if needed, interdict
vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms
". The no-fly zone was enforced by aircraft transferred to Unified Protector from the international coalition, with additional aircraft from NATO and other allied nations. The air strikes, although under central NATO command, were only conducted by aircraft of the nations agreeing to enforce this part of the UN resolution.
With Operation Unified Protector, NATO is involved in an internal Libyan conflict, between those seeking to depose the country's long-time national leader Muammar Gaddafi
and pro-Gaddafi forces. The conflict began as a series of non-peaceful disorders, part of the broader Arab Spring
movement, which Gaddafi's security services attempted to repress, but which soon developed into a widespread uprising.
In early March, Gaddafi's forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities and finally began attacking the rebel stronghold of Benghazi
on 19 March 2011. Two days earlier a second U.N. resolution, UNSC Resolution 1973
, was passed which authorized member states to establish and enforce an arms embargo, a no-fly zone over Libya and to use all means necessary, short of foreign occupation
, to protect Libyan civilians.
In response to the resolution, the Gaddafi government announced a ceasefire, but failed to uphold it and continued to advance on the rebels and the Second Battle of Benghazi
In response to the U.N. resolution, voted on 17 March 2011, an international coalition was established and naval and air forces were quickly deployed in and around the Mediterranean Sea
. Two days later, on 19 March, France intervened in the imminent Second Battle of Benghazi
with air strikes on Gaddafi armor and troops and eventually forced them back. On the same day 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles
were launched from UK and US ships, further air strikes against ground targets were executed and a naval blockade was established. The initial coalition consisted of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The official names for the interventions by the coalition members are Opération Harmattan
by France; Operation Ellamy
by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile
for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn
for the United States.
After the initial intervention, the U.S. wanted to scale down their involvement significantly to a supporting role. Due to lack of consensus within NATO
, the only other body capable of commanding a multinational operation of this size, however, this was not possible immediately. As consensus grew during the next days, NATO took more and more parts of the operation under its command until taking command of all military operations on 31 March.
Allied Air Command
Contributions and expenses by country
- USA: from 1 April to 22 August, the US flew 5,316 sorties over Libya, including 1,210 strike sorties, with munitions deployed 262 times. By 31 July, the US had spent US$896 million in the conflict.
- UK: By 12 July, the UK had spent about €136 million on operations in Libya.
- Denmark: Royal Danish Air Force F-16 fighters flew their first mission over Libya on 20 March and their last on 31 October 2011, a total of 600 sorties dropping 923 bombs, equaling 12,1% of the total number dropped during the conflict. By 31 October, Denmark had spent a total of 620 million DKK (approx. €77.5 million) on operations in Libya, of which 297 million DKK (approx. €37.1 million) would have been spent on training anyway.
- Norway: Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 fighters flew daily missions, and as of the end of July 2011, when Norway ceased its participation in military operations, the Air Force had dropped 588 bombs during the conflict and flown 615 sorties (about 17% of the sorties to that point).
- Italy: by 31 October, the Italian Air Force had dropped 710 bombs including approximately 30 Storm Shadow missiles during the conflict.
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Last edited on 15 March 2021, at 17:47
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