In February, after widespread protests had already begun in Benghazi, a team of U.S. Air Force maintenance experts conducted a seminar for nearly 50 members of the Libyan air force at a Libyan air base in Tripoli that was "hoped to lead to a continuing training program for Libyan air force maintenance experts," according to a report by the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
The reported noted, "In the last 18 months, the United States and Libya have made great strides regarding military cooperation," including the signing of a defense Memorandum of Understanding.
In September 2009, three senior Libyan military officers were hosted at the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany in hopes of helping the U.S. and Libya "build their military relationship," according to a report by U.S. Africa Command, which is now playing a key role in operations against Gadhafi forces in Libya.
Though U.S. trade policy towards Libya does not allow the import or export of lethal "defense articles," in 2008 and 2009 alone U.S. companies exported over $60 million in military wares to Libya, mostly aircraft equipment, according to two State Department reports. Part of the 2008 deal included more than $1 million in explosives. ForeignAssistance.gov notes that over the past three years, the U.S. government has also given more than $5 million in direct foreign aid to Libya -- a practice that has been put on hold due to the "current violence and instability."
In April 2009, Mutassim Gadhafi, Khamis' brother and Libya's National Security Advisor, held a private meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton upon his visit to the White House. With Mutassim at her side, Clinton told reporters at the time she was "very much looking forward" to broadening and strengthening the relationship between the two nations.
It was Clinton who said Thursday that after firing over a hundred missiles at Libyan government targets, the U.S. and its allies were handing over command of the no-fly zone over Libya to North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"Gadhafi's troops have been pushed back, but they remain a serious threat to the safety of the Libyan people," she said.