Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Robert Gates in Russia: Attacks in Libya Likely to Scale Back Soon

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Russia trying to find common ground on the missile defense shield. But Russia is one of the three countries that decided not to get involved in military action in Libya. China and Germany are the other two. Gates, who is retiring this year, is in a pickle. But he tends to be calm, an unassuming straight shooter. Here's what he had to say about Libya today:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Tuesday that plan to transfer command of the mission in Libya to coalition forces is “complicated.”

“We haven’t done something like this on the fly before,” Gates, who is currently overseas on a diplomatic trip to Russia, said.

Added Gates, “It’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.” TRN
Gates says Gadhafi is lying about civilian casualties:
Later, in comments to journalists traveling with him, the U.S. defense secretary pushed back at the Russian criticism, saying he was "curious" about the tone that has been taken.
"It is perfectly evident that the vast majority, if not nearly all, civilian casualties have been inflicted by (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi."
Gates said virtually all the targets are in isolated, non-populated areas and air defense sites.
"We've been very careful about this," Gates said.
"It's almost as though people here are taking at face value Gadhafi's claims about the number of civilian casualties, which, as far as I'm concerned, is just outright lies," he charged. CNN
Gates said as Gadhafi's ability to kill his people declines, military action will decline:
"It just seems logical that once we have the air defense system sufficiently suppressed that the level of military activity would decline."
He suggested there would be a transfer of coalition leadership shortly, as well.
"It will be other members of the coalition that on a day-to-day basis will be sustaining the no-fly zone." CNN