The United Nations Security Council has authorized the use of force in Libya, including a no-fly zone over the restive North African state. The measure came Thursday, just five days after the Arab League called on the Security Council to establish a NFZ. The resolution calls for an “immediate cease fire and a complete end to violence and attacks against civilians” targeted by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, according to remarks by Amb. Susan Rice, US permanent representative to the world body. US and NATO efforts, with the help of Arab nations, to ground Gadhafi’s air force could begin within days, according to press reports. Italy and Spain have made air bases available for UN-backed air operations, the Atlantic Journal-Constitution reported. Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, told Senate lawmakers Thursday—before the Security Council vote—that enforcing a NFZ is definitely doable, but alone would not suffice to counteract recent gains by Gadhafi forces on the ground (see F-22s in Combat?, below). Air Force and Defense Department spokesmen referred questions on Friday to the State Department, a spokesman for which could not immediately be reached for comment. (See also UN release, BBC report, Toronto Star report, Associated Press report via the Washington Post.)
As the U.S. continues to pursue a diplomatic resolution with Russia over its troop buildup on the Ukraine border, the Defense Department is looking into what capabilities it will need to reassure NATO allies if Russia does launch an invasion, its top spokesperson said Jan. 21.