27 Mar 2011 DefenseNews AFP
ROME - NATO has begun to "execute the no-fly zone operations" over Libya as well as imposing a naval arms embargo, the Canadian general in charge of operations Charles Bouchard said March 27. "I've been assigned as the Combined Joint Force Commander of the embargo operations. And, we've also begun to successfully execute the no-fly zone operations," Bouchard said in a statement released by NATO. Lt. Gen.General Bouchard, named just two days ago, is based at NATO's Allied Joint Force Command in Naples in southern Italy. The Libya campaign has been codenamed "Operation Unified Protector". "Along with its non-NATO partners, NATO will do everything it can to deny any use of air power and it will do so with care and precision to avoid harming the people of Libya," the three-star general said. "Our current mission is to close Libya's airspace to all flights except aid and humanitarian flights," he added. Bouchard has been appointed to run NATO's Libya operations, enforcing a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and arms embargo. He will also take command of the entire military campaign to protect civilians from troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi if and when the 28-member alliance takes the reins of the entire Libya campaign from a U.S.-led coalition. The coalition launched by Britain, France and the United States kicked off its campaign six days ago but Washington, along with several members of the alliance, is anxious to see NATO take the helm as soon as possible. Reluctance to engage in strikes by NATO's sole Muslim member, Turkey, as well as concerns over the political leadership of the campaign voiced by France, have held up the transfer of command.