"Regime change imposed from the outside, as we have seen in Iraq and in the Balkans, is incredibly difficult and works best, as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt, when it is done from within. And we are trying to provide enough space -- and in order to protect the opposition from Gadhafi's military, to the extent we can, we are reducing his military capabilities to the point where hopefully those who rose up in many of these other towns, as well as the places that are under siege now, will have a better chance of being successful in bringing about a change there," he added later.
"The real work of that will have to be done by the Libyans themselves. But we can provide them with some cover from the air. And I think the kind of training that some of the allies are going to do and some of the assistance they're providing will help them. But this is likely to take a while," Gates said.
He ticked off ways in which Gadhafi's capabilities are being eroded, including the destruction of his military capability and that it is getting harder for him to fund his operations since he is no longer selling oil and other assets have been seized.
"That's not a short-term thing any more than the weakening of the military is, but the fact is it is taking place day after day," Gates said