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Posted at 10:07 AM ET, 03/ 2/2011

USS Ponce and USS Kearsarge get closer to Libya

By Elizabeth Flock
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The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise transits the Suez Canal in Egypt in this February 15, 2011 handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy. The United States is moving warships and aircraft, including the USS Enterprise, into the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, according to U.S. officials. (REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jesse L. Gonzalez/Handout)

Two U.S. amphibious warships, the USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Wednesday and arrived in the Mediterranean, a canal official said. The officials said the USS Kearsarge is carrying 42 helicopters.

The United States had said on Monday it was moving ships and planes closer to Libya. The arrival of the warships came as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi moved to recapture control of Brega, a key oil port in eastern Libya, and reverse the tide of an opposition uprising.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the ships, along with an extra 400 Marines, would be ready to give humanitarian relief and perform emergency evacuations from Libya.

The USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce entered accompanied by tugs to secure their passage, the canal official also said. Helicopters can take off from and land on the Kearsarge.

Even as warships got closer to Libya, U.S. defense leaders expressed caution Tuesday about military intervention, warning that enforcement of a no-fly zone would require scarce air assets, domestic political approval and international authorization.

Foreign leaders, and some U.S. officials, have said a no-fly zone is under active consideration, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the Pentagon was preparing "a lot of options and contingencies" for President Obama.

But Gates said military measures could have indirect consequences that "need to be considered very carefully." He suggested any intervention in Libya could drain U.S. forces from the war in Afghanistan and questioned the wisdom of the United States engaging in military action in another Muslim country.

By Elizabeth Flock  | March 2, 2011; 10:07 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

"The United States had said on Monday it was moving ships and planes closer to Libya."

========================================

Beware the 'false flag operation' (Tonkin Gulf; USS Liberty): 'They took a shot at our [ship, plane, helicopter, sailor, soldier, diplomat, whatever]... we had to start a war with them.'

Posted by: srb2 | March 2, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Why may it be so difficult for US to destroy a handful of Qaddafi ancient combat planes and choppers?

An idea of no-fly zone is misinterpreted as very complicated operation of constant coverage of vast Libyan airspace. In reality accomplishing this task is quite easy: Libyan aircrafts have to operate close to coastline because majority of populated areas lies there. So US fighters flying CAPs from positioned nearby aircraft carriers under E-2 Hawkeye coverage should have no problems shooting-down Libyan air assets. Additionally easy way to disable Libyan airbases is to launch salvos of Tomahawk cruise missile from US Navy vessels. I am sure Libyan Air Force logistics will be in unrecoverable shambles after absorbing such blow. Also Libyan air defense is made of ancient Soviet made SAMs and AAAs which pose no threat to modern American airplanes operating at high altitudes. Operation Allied Force mounted against Serbia twelve years ago and Operations Southern/Northern Watch against Iraq proved that indisputably.
The last problem is flow of foreign mercenaries into Libya from neighboring countries. Yet I suppose without air power pro-Qaddafi ground forces would be unable to attack rebel positions effectively. As opposed to common view pro-regime security forces and hired mercenaries are good shooting defenseless civilians but much worse fighting armed opponents.

In sum removing Qaddafi's air power is a simple task for US. Moreover it can be achieved quickly and most probably without any losses.

Posted by: Bourbon | March 2, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

It would be greatly appriciated if we could just stop telling other countries where our military is planning to be. Has anyone in the news ever heard of OSPEC ever? I'd prefer my fiance not to die anytime soon because of someone else's ignorance.

Posted by: jln132000 | March 3, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

pcow

Breaking footage has just been posted to YouTube of Gaddafi landing in France. I knew the French would accept him with open arms:

http://fms.nu/fKiL5p

Remember all the contracts they gave to Sadam? The defied the UN back then, and they are doing it again!

Posted by: webcontent2011 | March 3, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Has the media never heard the saying Loose lips sink ships? Please please please stop telling the whole world where our ships are going. Opsec is there for a reason. I want my son and his shipmates to all come home safeley.

Posted by: 1smiley_mom | March 3, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

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