WASHINGTON – The military mission in Libya is almost complete and NATO could begin to emerge soon after the meeting of the Allies in Brussels next week, said Gen. Carter Ham, Head of U.S. Command for Africa (AFRICOM) In an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.
General Ham said that U.S. military officials should present their assessment of the situation to the ministers of NATO during meetings scheduled for the end of next week. NATO could decide to end its mission in Libya, although the deposed president Muammar Gaddafi, is still at large and his forces continue to resist in strongholds such as Sirte and Bani Walid.
“The fact that (Gaddafi) is still at large on the Libyans really more than anyone else,” he judged.
Last week, the decision-making body of NATO, the North Atlantic Council, extended the mission of 90 days but officials said the decision would be reviewed periodically.
General Ham said that the National Transitional Council (CNT) and Libyan forces were to be achieved “reasonable control” population centers before the end of the NATO mission. But, at least initially, part of military surveillance would be maintained.
“We do not want to go there now nothing overnight,” said the head of AFRICOM. “There will be missions that will be maintained for some time, even if only to give assurances to the interim government on issues such as border security, until it is ready to do everything this himself, “he added.
Instruments of U.S. intelligence and surveillance, like drones, unmanned aircraft, will probably remain in the region, such as monitoring arms caches and preventing the proliferation of weapons in neighboring Libya.
However, the air strikes that began on March 19 probably cease, according to General Ham, unless the transitional government of Libya does not require specific pursuit.