NATO would like to conclude its mission in Libya at the end of the month, announced NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Sunday. “We have taken a preliminary decision to end Operation Unified Protector on Oct. 31, and we will take a formal decision in the next few days,” said Rasmussen in a statement. “As we wind down the operation, together with our partners, we will monitor the situation and retain the capacity to respond to threats to civilians, if needed.” Rasmussen’s words came three days after the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and on the same day that Libya’s National Transitional Council declared that the North African nation is liberated and on the path to peace. NATO’s North Atlantic Council met on Oct. 21 and made the preliminary decision, according to an alliance statement. “This has been a successful mission by NATO, by all of NATO’s members and by NATO’s partners as well,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Oct. 21. “This was not an easy effort. It involved a great deal of cooperation, a great deal of partnership.” (Panetta transcript) (See also President Obama statement.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.