21 Mar 2011 By PIERRE TRAN DefenseNews
PARIS - France is capable of providing the command and control for the multinational military forces ranged against Libya in support of U.N. resolution 1973, which is aimed at protecting the civilian population and enforcing a no-fly zone, a French defense spokesman said. The U.S. authorities provide the command structure that coordinates national contributions, and American officials have said they would like to hand over the command to the allies leading the European effort, namely Britain and France. Asked if France has the means for assuming the command role, Army Col. Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the Joint Staff, told the daily briefing on French operations in Libya, "France has the means." Each country proposes its military capabilities in the Libyan theater and the U.S. command structure "deconflicts" them, deputy Defense Ministry spokesman Philippe Pontiès said. Any NATO involvement in the command structure would be in a "support" role, Pontiès said. France opposes the command function being assumed by NATO, which French officials view as highly bureaucratic, daily Le Monde reported.