White House Strategist Claims NATO is Firm in Plans to Take Over All Military Operations in Libya

Mar 25, 2011 12:28pm

ABC's Ann Compton reports:

The Obama White  House is convinced NATO will pick up the full military burden In Libya in the next few days, allowing American pilots to stand down,  dramatically reducing the risk to US forces. 

Ben Rhodes, deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, tells ABC News  the political agreement within NATO is firm.

“They are going to pick up the civilian protection. They just haven't finalized the plan as to exactly how that mission  will be carried out and what the command structure will be,“  Rhodes said in a West Wing interview Friday morning.

President Obama has promised the American military lead would last “days not weeks” ever since he announced last Saturday he had ordered US warplanes and battleships to pound Muammar Gadhafi’s forces and prevent a bloody siege of opposition strongholds including Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.

“There is still risk involved for American personnel,” Rhodes concedes, “but after this shift takes place, which will  be in few days,  that risk will at least be dramatically reduced  because there won’t be war planes and the kind of missions we have been flying. “

Congress returns to Washington Monday and Rhodes acknowledges many members are demanding an explanation from the President on the “endgame” for US policy in Libya.

“The longer term political endgame is, as a matter of US policy,  we do believe Gadhafi should leave.” Rhodes says. “We are not going to use our military to do that, though. “

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