In a letter to President Obama today, Congressman Hunter urged the President to stand firm against any pressure to resume a primary leadership role in Libya and ensure other nations within NATO maintain full mission responsibility. According to Hunter, NATO must not become a euphemism for American combat resources, troops and funding.
A copy of Congressman Hunter's letter is available here.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennslyvania Ave, NW
Washington DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Now that the military situation in Libya is under NATO control, it is important that the United States stand firm against any pressure to resume a primary leadership role and ensure other nations within NATO maintain full mission responsibility. NATO has both the strategic and airpower components to continue operations without a direct U.S. contribution. Any American involvement from this point forward must not deviate from a mission-support role, with the U.S. military providing only limited assets and capability.
Reports indicate that the U.S. military is currently designating fighter aircraft to a support function, putting Britain, France and other NATO allies in the leadership position. With this transition, NATO will be responsible for conducting daily military operations that include intercept and ground attack missions, as well as the enforcement of the no-fly zone that was quickly carved out across a large section of the Libyan airspace. The U.S. military, other than providing assets such as aircraft surveillance, electronic reconnaissance and aerial refueling, as indicated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, should not be expected to have any additional involvement in the NATO-led Libyan operation-a point that needs to be made clear throughout the duration of the campaign.
U.S. air assets aside, NATO deployed 116 aircraft to the Libyan operation while those countries now leading the coalition have adequate military resources to sufficiently meet any situation that arises within the air and ground attack mission. WIth these operations no longer under U.S. control, NATO should also assume full responsibility for devising strategic objectives, containment policies and the overall end-state, none of which should fall to the U.S. to decide.
In Afghanistan, where the U.S. mission is flying under the NATO flag, America's military continues to make significant progress, thanks in large part to the leadership of General David H. Petraeus. The U.S. military is out in front in Afghanistan and will continue leading the way next to a limited NATO force. What cannot happen in Libya is a situation, similar to Afghanistan, where NATO becomes a euphemism for American combat resources, troops and funding.
Mr. President, the fighting in Libya presents a real opportunity for our international partners to show their strength to the rest of the world and help carry the local security burden on their shoulders, particularly at a time when our nation's attention is focused on holding victory in Iraq and winning in Afghanistan. It is time for our NATO allies to step up and do their part.