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Operation Unified Protector - C o r p o r a t I o n

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Operation Unified Protector

On March 27, NATO leaders agreed to assume control of all military operations 

in Libya under UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973.


 Royal Canadian Air Force  

Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, the deputy commander, Joint Force Com-

mand, NATO, and the commander of Operation Unified Protector, noted that three 

characteristics described the operation: it was quickly made, cheap, and flexible. He 

characterized the transition of military operations from the Odyssey Dawn coalition 

to the Alliance structure as a “hail Mary pass” because of the rapid response required, 

and the fact that some observers may have been skeptical about the chances for the suc-

cess of such an undertaking. Unified Protector and NATO member nations faced sig-

nificant fiscal and political constraints, which made efficient, precise, and coordinated 

operations essential. Moreover, the integration of non-NATO nations into operations 

increased their complexity; in particular, challenges in the areas of equipment interop-

erability and standard security procedures quickly became apparent. General Bouchard 

observed that communication—using doctrine rather than dogma as a guide—and 

flexibility in other areas were the keys to operational success.


  Although OUP headquarters was a true multinational organization, the United 

States provided a large share of its personnel. Staffing levels were smaller than during 

Odyssey Dawn, and the total manning in NATO billets in the combined force air 


Unclassified information from Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe/Office of History, The United 

States Air Forces in Europe in Operation Odyssey Dawn, Ramstein Air Base, Germany: HQ USAFE/HO, February 

28, 2012, not available to the general public. 


NATO, “NATO and Libya,” online, last updated March 28, 2012 (accessed December 5, 2011). 


Lt.-Gen. Bouchard, “Coalition Building and the Future of NATO Operations: 2/14/2012—Transcript.” 

The U.S. Experience: Operational    137

component continued to build throughout the first few months.


 By comparison, 

while 900 people were on board USS Mount Whitney during Odyssey Dawn, approxi-

mately 300 personnel from the NATO command structure and another 220 national 

representatives, weapons system experts, and liaison officers worked in the air compo-

nent headquarters in Poggio Renatico Air Base near Ferrara, Italy. For most personnel, 

rotations lasted 45 to 60 days.


 Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander, 

Europe, discharged his duties from NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium. General 

Jodice served as CFACC, initially from his headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, and later 

from NATO’s Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC 5) facility at Poggio Renati-



 Italian Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri served as maritime component commander 

from his headquarters at Nissita, Italy. Admiral Locklear continued to serve as com-

mander, Allied Joint Forces Command Naples.



The Transition to NATO 

General Jodice’s headquarters staff conducted planning activities beginning in mid-

March to prepare for the transition to NATO C2 under Unified Protector. When 

asked how he would characterize the transition, General Jodice used the analogy of a 

“planned play with some risk, but preparation” because of the coordination conducted 

between the upcoming NATO CFACC and Odyssey Dawn’s JFACC, General Wood-

ward, during the transition period.


 Together, Generals Jodice and Woodward devel-

oped a deliberate plan for the handoff of the air component command. The CAOC 5 

staff at Poggio Renatico, under the CFAC director, USAF Colonel Ancel B. Yarbrough 

II, prepared to conduct air operations approximately two weeks before the transition 

to NATO began. As they expanded the operations floor, augmentees (approximately 

45 Italian nationals, and ten personnel from CAOC 7 in Greece) received the call to 

assemble as they had trained for NATO Response Force activation. The CFAC enter-

prise was initially split by function—air tasking order planning, execution, and mis-

sion analysis personnel were located at Poggio, while General Jodice’s headquarters 

staff remained at Izmir. The headquarters staff performed the strategy development 

and provided written guidance to shape planning decisions. Initial shortages occurred 

in some disciplines, such as subject matter experts in the Intelligence, Surveillance 


“Coalition Building and the Future of NATO Operations.” 


Email from USAF officer from OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, “OUP stats,” April 6, 2012.


NATO website fact sheet, “Operation Unified Protector Command and Control,” accessed March 7, 2012. 

CAOC 5 was one of the five operations centers under the Southern Europe commander of NATO air forces 

Component Command Air (CC-Air), located in Izmir, Turkey, and was staffed with personnel assigned from 13 

Alliance member nations. See “NATO CAOC Five,” accessed March 26, 2012. 


Karen Parrish, “Locklear Nominated as Next PACOM Commander,” American Forces Press Service, Decem-

ber 30, 201.


General Jodice, oral history interview, February 28, 2012.

138    Precision and Purpose: Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

and Reconnaissance Division and targeting capability.


 The planning section initially 

lacked sufficient manning, equipment, and facilities to execute a 24-hour continuous 

planning production process, which altered the planning cycle, at times compressing it 

and extending execution days. General Jodice soon realized that to conduct the type of 

dynamic targeting required for successful operations, the two functional areas should 

be collocated, and so all personnel deployed to Poggio Renatico by early April.



At the combined air operations center, which eventually evolved to resemble its 

U.S. counterpart Joint Air Operations Center (JAOC), staff members progressively 

developed processes and organizations to develop strategy, select targets, and control 

operations. Center personnel built a strong strategy division capability during the first 

two weeks of the operation. The CAOC director guided the development of the orga-

nizational structure to provide the functions that were initially lacking or understaffed. 

This included a Guidance/Apportionment/Targeting branch within the strategy divi-

sion to enhance the formulation of strategy and guidance provided to air tasking order 

planners. U.S. doctrine and practice influenced the ISRD, which started with available 

manning levels and facilities. The division continued to expand its capabilities until it 

achieved maturity in midsummer. This effort required a division chief who possessed 

a comprehensive knowledge based in deep experience, as many personnel in both the 

strategy and ISR divisions lacked the required background and were trained on site as 

the operation progressed. Innovation also was necessary. During the first two weeks, 

the operations floor shifted several times to find the optimum capabilities pairing and 

to enhance communication on the floor. Although NATO procedures were modified 

to meet operational challenges, the most significant difference was that new compo-

nents were added to meet mission requirements: “There were so many ‘new’ parts 

added to our CAOC that by the end of the operation, we didn’t look anything like 

we do during peacetime.”


 Although doctrine and practice served as a baseline for 

operations, most personnel interviewed for this report stated that flexibility, agility and 

tailoring functions and organizations to meet mission requirements in an innovative 

manner were essential. 


Email and attachment from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, “RE: referral from General 

Jodice,” March 19, 20, 21, 2012. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division (ISRD), composed of 

members from USAF’s five AN/USQ-163 Falconer AOCs, the Distributed Ground Station community, USAF 

major commands and subordinate units, and coalition and joint partners, provides the Combined Force Air 

Component Commander, air operations center, and subordinate units with intelligence, operations, and target-

ing to meet military objectives. See United States Air Forces Central Command, “Intelligence, Surveillance and 

Reconnaissance Division (ISRD),” Fact Sheet, posted online September 7, 2009. 


General Jodice, oral history interview, February 28, 2012.


Email from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, March 19, 2012. It is important to remem-

ber that NATO peacetime CAOCs (CAOC 5 before Unified Protector) are not equivalent (as comprehensively 

staffed) to USAF AOCs that support combatant commanders.

The U.S. Experience: Operational    139

Order of Battle 

U.S. military forces continued to support all three elements of the NATO mission and 

assigned forces and assets as necessary. The bulk of the air forces generated from U.S. 

European Command, including the 406th Air Expeditionary Wing, Expeditionary 

Fighter Squadrons, an Airborne Air Control Squadron, an Expeditionary Airborne 

Command and Control Squadron, an Air Base Squadron, and several Rescue Squad-

rons attached or assigned to either permanent party units at the forward operating 

bases, the numbered air forces, or the air expeditionary wing.


 The 22nd MEU, rein-

forced with attack, helicopter, aerial refueler transport, logistics, and electronic war-

fare elements, replaced the 26th MEU in late April.


 U.S. naval assets included the 

cruiser USS Monterey; destroyers USS Barry, Stout, and Roosevelt; the USS Bataan 

ARG including USS Ponce, Mesa Verde, and Whidbey Island; and support ships USS 

Kanawha, Laramie, and Robert E. Peary.


 U.S. forces remained distributed through-

out the Operation Unified Protector area of operations, as they had during Odyssey 



U.S. air assets provided to Unified Protector included a broad range of aircraft types. 

Manned aircraft provided refueling, ISR, electronic warfare, and SEAD/DEAD. The 

USAF provided E-3 Sentry aircraft to cover one of the four lines in the 24-hour AWACS 

orbit maintained by NATO, and limited surveillance and reconnaissance sorties from a 

U-2 aircraft. President Obama approved the use of two armed MQ-1B Predator drones 

to provide ISR and offensive counterair (OCA) strike capability. General Cartwright, 

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained that this was necessary because of 

the change in the character of the fight—“the intermixing of the lines”—and the need 

for more precision identification, although news sources noted the apparent strategy shift 


Essentially, the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano with supporting expeditionary fighter squadrons from  

Spangdahlem, Shaw, and Lakenheath; the 100th Air Refueling Wing serving initially at Morón for OOD then 

shifting some assets to Istres, France, to support OUP; ISR elements at Sigonella and Souda Bay; and the rescue 

elements at initially Sigonella and later Kalamata. The 406th AEW only existed for a very brief time. 


Daily News Staff, “22nd MEU relieves 26th MEU,” The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C., April 29, 2011. The 

22nd MEU remained deployed until February 2012 aboard the Bataan ARG. See “22nd MEU to Return This 

Week,” The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C., February 2, 2012.


Henry Boyd, “Operation Unified Protector—Allied Assets Deployed to Libya,” IISS Voices, online. Coalition 

assets as of June 10, 2011. USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopters deployed on 

French and British amphibious assault vessels during Operation Unified Protector, the first such occurrence. This 

forward deployment similarly enabled reduced transit time and allowed them to better support theater missions. 


Butler, “Operation Odyssey Dawn/Operation Unified Protector.” Specific units included: 406th Air Expedi-

tionary Wing (with assigned Operations and Maintenance Groups and Medical Squadron), 77th Expeditionary 

Fighter Squadron (EFS), 55th EFS, 965th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron, 16th Expeditionary Air-

borne Command and Control Squadron, 776th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, 347th Air Expeditionary Group,  

38th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (ERS), 56th ERS, 71st ERS, 48th ERS, 55th ERS, and 58th ERS, attached to 

the 406th Air Expeditionary Wing, Third Air Force, 17th Air Force, the 347th or 322nd Air Expeditionary Group 

at Souda Bay, the 31st Operations Group at Aviano, or the 48th Mission Support Group at Kalamata. 

140    Precision and Purpose: Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

from a strictly support role to again providing lethal strike capability.


 Three MQ-4 

Block 30 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) flew more than 335 hours of 

ISR missions in support of operations in Libya through mid-April.


 E-8 JSTARS and  

RC-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft provided airborne battle management, C2, and ISR 

functions on a limited daily basis. Navy EA-18G Growler (later EA-6B Prowler) and 

Air Force F16CJ aircraft continued to fly electronic warfare and SEAD/DEAD mis-

sions from Aviano Air Base. Information operations personnel conducted psychological 

operations and dropped leaflets from tactical fighters and other aircraft in an attempt to 

influence regime troops to cease fighting. KC-10 and KC-135 aircraft assigned to Uni-

fied Protector conducted refueling operations, while C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft 

provided airlift and other combat support capabilities.


  In early April, however, the United States made a decision to reduce its contri-

bution of strike assets to OUP. The U.S. strike aircraft, including A-10 and AC-130 

ground-attack planes, were placed on standby, to be called if requested by General 

Bouchard, according to Admiral Mullen.


 The commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet (the  

AFRICOM Naval Component commander) maintained operational control of the 

22nd MEU, which arrived during the transition period to Unified Protector. The 

Bataan ARG (BATARG)/22nd MEU team was tasked with four possible mission sets: 

24/7 TRAP response for flights over Libya and the Department of State team in Beng-

hazi; strike; humanitarian assistance; and possible securing of sensitive sites. The MEU 

operated from the NATO air tasking order and special instructions (SPINS) for air-

space management; if NATO required support, the request flowed up to AFRICOM 

in Stuttgart and through the commander, Sixth Fleet, to the MEU. The complete 

BATARG/22nd MEU team supported Unified Protector from late April through the 

end of July. From August through November, detachments of the 22nd MEU from 

the USS Mesa Verde, USS Bataan, and USS Whidbey Island variously supported OUP 

and then Operation Odyssey Guard, the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.



OASD (PA), “DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Gen. Cartwright from the Pentagon,” Washing-

ton, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense, April 21, 2011. 


Flown from Sigonella Air Base from March 1 to April 14 according to Northrop Grumman, “Global Hawk—

Global ISR Operations! ‘March Madness,’” accessed online March 28, 2012.


See Christopher M. Blanchard, Libya: Unrest and U.S. Policy, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research 

Service, July 6, 2011, p. 5, for a general description of operations, and Chapter 3. U.S. cargo aircraft were not 

assigned to NATO.


David S. Cloud, “Region in Turmoil; U.S. Cutting Its Craft from Libya Sorties,” Los Angeles Times, April 1, 

2011, p. AA5.


The TRAP mission required continuous planning that included rehearsals, chat rooms, liaison officer visits to 

various personnel recovery cells and NATO maritime assets, and daily contact with the U.S. State Department 

team. Email from 22nd MEU officer to Deborah Kidwell, “OOD and OUP Project,” May 30, 2012.

The U.S. Experience: Operational    141

Changes to the Concept of Operations 

By the time NATO assumed responsibility for military operations, the regime forces 

had regained momentum and prepared to counterattack. Throughout April, poor 

weather conditions hampered ongoing operations and intelligence collection (particu-

larly battle damage reports and monitoring troop movements). To make matters more 

difficult, regime forces had adopted new tactics—in many cases, they abandoned mili-

tary equipment and discarded their uniforms to blend in with opposition forces. For 

much of the fighting that followed, Libyan military assets changed hands so often 

that troop identification became difficult. However, General Bouchard noted that the 

threats against civilians were very real—Qaddafi had initially ordered his loyal troops 

to kill all males between the ages of 17 and 40 upon entering Benghazi, and continued 

to issue orders to behead civilians as late as October.


 As regime troops closed the gap 

between themselves and heavily populated areas where opposition forces gathered, it 

often became difficult to distinguish clear battle lines. As a result, NATO focused on 

conducting strikes against ground troops in the second echelon areas, and targeting 

lines of communications, depots, C2 nodes, and military facilities. 

When Unified Protector began, military planners focused their efforts to protect 

civilians by attempting to stabilize areas near Benghazi and Ajdabiya. Regime troops 

had entrenched near Brega, and NATO planners realized that the close proximity 


Lt.-Gen. Bouchard, “Coalition Building and the Future of NATO Operations,” February 14, 2012.

A 931st Air Refueling Group KC-135 Stratotanker, deployed with the 313th

AEW, prepares to refuel a C-17 Globemaster over the Atlantic Ocean at the

end of Operation Unified Protector, October 29, 2011. The C-17, from the

172nd Airlift Wing, Mississippi Air National Guard, was en route from Tripoli

to Boston to deliver 22 Libyan rebel fighters for medical care.

Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, photo by Major Andra Higgs.

142    Precision and Purpose: Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

of oil and water pipelines would make interdiction of these forces difficult if regime 

troops managed to advance further than Ajdabiya in their efforts to reach the opposi-

tion stronghold of Benghazi. Other concerns during the first three months included 

efforts to keep the port of Misrata open, stabilize operations in the western mountains, 

and ensure that the oil and water pipelines so close to Benghazi, and so critical to Lib-

ya’s economic recovery, were preserved. As NATO operations began to stabilize large 

opposition-held areas in the western and eastern portions of Libya, opposition troops 

began to organize and train, and the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) 

sought political recognition.


  While the goals and objectives of the U.N. Security Council resolutions remained 

consistent into Operation Unified Protector, the concept of operations shifted focus 

to fit the operational environment. The targeting process placed progressively greater 

emphasis on dynamic targeting, which was the primary reason to collocate General 

Jodice’s staff (from Izmir) and CAOC 5 personnel at Poggio Renatico.


 Air task-

ing orders focused on destroying regime C2 nodes, logistics, and ammunition storage 

facilities. Planners shifted their focus from destroying or degrading enemy air defenses 

to maintaining air supremacy. This required continued monitoring of the IADS rem-

nants, and of mobile air defenses in particular. For example, as late as July, regime 

forces attempted to relocate and reconstitute air defense weapons located near Sebha in 

the defense of Tripoli. Conducting BDA was sometimes problematic, as personnel and 

equipment shortages rendered assessments above phase 1 level difficult.


 As an inte-

gral partner within the NATO alliance, U.S. forces continued to provide air refueling, 

ISR assets, defense suppression capabilities, and munitions, which were all precision-

guided. As in Odyssey Dawn, the desired strategic end state remained imprecise, and 

General Jodice described it as essentially “until your services are no longer needed.”



A new consensus model emerged slowly on the CAOC floor. Instead of a com-

prehensive agreement on all missions that were considered necessary to achieve Alli-

ance goals, the NATO command structure incorporated the resources each member or 

partner was willing to commit to certain missions on a piecemeal basis.


 Under these 

circumstances, liaison officers (LNOs) were crucial to the success of the Alliance C2 

structure and the production of air tasking orders. Liaisons coordinated action between 

individual air and naval components of NATO and their respective countries’ national 


“Coalition Building and the Future of NATO Operations.”


General Jodice, oral history interview, February 28, 2011. 


General Jodice, oral history interview, February 28, 2011. 


General Jodice, oral history interview, February 28, 2011.


This level of coordination represents a distinct departure from previous NATO and coalition efforts, which 

may become more common. If contributors can agree on the need to act to protect civilians, for example, they 

may not all allow their aircraft to be used in strike missions against the enemy. Where this was the case, allies 

were given alternative tasks.

The U.S. Experience: Operational    143

command authority, in addition to their more general role as subject matter experts on 

weapons and targeting. As links between the use of weapons systems, intelligence plat-

forms, and planners, LNOs continually revised special instructions to pilots (SPINS). 

Without customary levels of C2 and intelligence preparation, some pilots initially were 

uncomfortable with more fluid special instructions. As LNOs revised the SPINS to 

provide the guidance for dynamic targeting (quantifying the standards for positive 

identification of targets, for example), pilots and weapons officers became proficient in 

developing the language, procedures, and instructions necessary to complete the mis-

sions. Nearly every person contacted in the course of this study listed the performance 

of LNOs as one of the best practices of both military operations, and one that particu-

larly allowed the NATO alliance to coordinate operations effectively.


  The senior national liaison officers at the Combined Forces Air Component 

Headquarters, often identified as red-card holders, performed an especially important 

function for the Alliance. As previously discussed, the urgency to act to protect civil-

ians precluded a definitive resolution of all the issues regarding the desired strategic end 

state and the exact use of national assets. This time pressure left the Alliance vulnerable 

to disagreement unless a workable process could be found to resolve discrepancies on a 

case-by-case basis. Red-card holders are an element of NATO doctrine used to resolve 

areas in which consensus does not exist on each issue within the Alliance and to ensure 

mission accomplishment. Red-card holders exercised the rights of each contributor of 

forces by ensuring that the missions they were assigned met their national policy, and 

had the power to veto the use of their national assets for a particular mission. Red-card 

holders met regularly as a group with the air operations center director, and when the 

air component commander required it. Through these meetings, Alliance members and 

partners were kept informed not only of each nation’s policy regarding the acceptable 

use of its military assets, but also the operational assessments and intentions of air task-

ing officials. During ongoing kinetic operations, red-card holders or their designated 

alternates observed operations from the air operations center floor. During dynamic 

targeting they were a component of the decision tree that determined whether or not 

to strike a particular target; as the air operations center floor learned mission require-

ments, red-card holders ensured no reservations existed regarding the use of each asset 

provided by their countries. Even though the asset in question was tasked to conduct 

a NATO mission, the liaison process maintained Alliance consensus and ensured that 

each nation’s tasking also satisfied internal guidance. This coordination process was 

more difficult to assimilate into the air tasking orders in the early days of the operation; 

however, the air operations center floor staff quickly learned each nation’s caveats and 

avoided areas where conflict could hamper operations.



Email from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, March 20, 2012. General Jodice noted the 

effort to coordinate the use of resources was one of the most difficult challenges of Unified Protector.


Email from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, March 20, 2012.

144    Precision and Purpose: Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

The NATO effort also included nonkinetic operations. While some airborne 

assets migrated seamlessly from Operation Odyssey Dawn—the capability to con-

duct radio broadcasts, for example—other capabilities such as leaflet drops were not 

initially available, and staff spent the first several months focused on finding suitable 



 General Jodice and his staff were committed to the value of nonkinetic 

operations; however, available assets, processes, and personnel initially proved to be 

limitations. Although the first leaflet drop occurred in early May, it was not until July 

that the elements to more fully employ nonkinetic operations became fully available. 

Staff spent the first few months (April to June) determining which aircraft were capable 

of dropping leaflets within the constraints provided, the weapons to deliver the leaflets, 

and developing a process to obtain approval for the drops.


  U.S. tactical fighters and other assets delivered leaflets from medium altitude, 

typically concentrated in one or two locations in an attempt to influence regime forces 

to surrender or cease hostilities. These efforts evoked fear of lethal kinetic strikes and 

ensured that regime forces knew they were under surveillance, according to senior 

CAOC officers.


 U.S. forces released approximately nine million leaflets from F-16 

aircraft throughout the campaign, which were designed to reach multiple audiences 

that included regime forces and mercenaries, opposition groups, and civilians.


  During the first four months, F-16CJ aircraft from Aviano were tasked to perform the 

leaflet drops, which left fewer aircraft to accomplish the primary SEAD/DEAD mis-

sion. Beginning in August, however, U.S. authorities dedicated three F-16CMs from 

the Aviano wing for the sole purpose of leaflet dropping, which allowed F-16CJ aircraft 

to concentrate on the SEAD/DEAD mission.


  Simultaneously, U.S. EC-130H Compass Call aircraft provided more than 4,500 

hours of sustained radio broadcasts on multiple tactical and approved commercial fre-

quencies to inform Libyan audiences of NATO’s mission and to persuade combat-

ants to lay down their arms.


 Measures of performance and effect indicated that the 

target audiences received these radio broadcasts, which in some cases inspired listeners 

to seek additional information from nonregime sources. Airborne electronic warfare 


Email from AAC Izmir officer, “Re: Non Kinetic Actions in Libya,” to Deborah Kidwell, May 21, 2012. See 

also Geoffrey Childs, “Military Information Support to Contingency Operations in Libya.” Special Warfare,  

Vol. 26, No. 1, January 2013, pp. 14–17, for a discussion of Military Information Support Operations during 

both operations.


Email from AAC Izmir officer, “Re: Non Kinetic Actions in Libya.” 


Email from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, March 20, 2012. 


Email from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, April 3, 2012; the F-16CMs delivered up to 

650,000 leaflets to multiple locations in a single mission. E-mail, “Re: Non Kinetic Actions in Libya.” 


Email from USAF officer in OUP CAOC to Deborah Kidwell, April 3, 2012. 


Email from AAC Izmir officer,“Re: Non Kinetic Actions in Libya.” See also Childs, “Military Information 


The U.S. Experience: Operational    145

assets were employed in some required places to disrupt regime communications and 

prevent regime forces from attacking or threatening to attack civilians and civilian 

populated areas. Indications suggested that these efforts, particularly at late stages in 

the campaign, were highly effective and prevented regime forces from attacking civil-

ians. Finally, the CFAC worked to employ shows of presence/shows of force when 

appropriate to influence target audiences to give up the fight and to ensure audiences 

knew NATO was present to protect civilians as necessary.


 To enhance the coordina-

tion (and thus the synergistic effect) of these nonkinetic and kinetic effects, the CJTF 

developed a synchronization matrix, which General Jodice later noted had significantly 

contributed to the effectiveness of the air campaign.



As the war continued, opposition forces began to organize and train to defeat 

regime troops. Finally, opposition forces conducted offensives originating from three 

areas: forces in the western mountain areas moved eastward to Tripoli; forces in Mis-

rata moved both westward toward Tripoli as well as toward Brega to the east; and 

forces from Benghazi organized and moved to the west.


 The key turning points 

for opposition forces came when forces in the Berber highlands gained access to the 

coastal road from Tripoli to Tunisia, and when opposition forces broke out from Mis-

rata. Subsequently, regime troops suffered severe operational difficulties that restricted 


Email from AAC Izmir officer, “Re: Non Kinetic Actions in Libya.”


General Jodice, oral history interview, February 28, 2012.


Lt.-Gen. Bouchard, “Coalition Building and the Future of NATO Operations,” February 14, 2012.

A U.S. Air Force F-16CJ from the 20th Fighter Wing on a leaflet-dropping mission over

Libya on July 13, 2011. Under its right wing is a PDU-5/B leaflet dispenser. Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. 

146    Precision and Purpose: Airpower in the Libyan Civil War

their logistics and freedom of movement. Opposition forces occupied Qaddafi’s com-

pound in Tripoli by mid-August; however, the leader and his family were not found, 

and Qaddafi remained defiant.


 Reuters reported that through August, U.S. aircraft 

had flown 5,316 sorties, including 1,210 strike sorties, of which 262 had dropped 

ordnance on targets, and that 101 U.S. Predator drone strikes had occurred.



September, opposition forces occupied the airport and citadel areas of the southern 

desert town of Sebha, although heavy fighting continued near Tripoli.


 Regime forces 

finally collapsed with the death of Qaddafi on October 20 in Sirte, as that city fell to 

opposition forces.


 After seven months of air and sea operations, NATO ended its 

mission in Libya on October 31, 2011. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen said, 

“NATO answered the call. We launched our operation faster than ever before. More 

than 8,000 servicemen and women took part in our mission for Libya. We were effec-

tive, flexible and precise.”


  U.S. forces flew more than 7,100 total sorties during Operation Unified Protec-

tor, which represented nearly 27 percent of the total sorties flown during the operation. 

The U.S. Air Force flew approximately 25 percent of the total OUP sorties, while the 

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps completed more than 2 percent of the sorties flown. Of 

the U.S. sorties, more than 4,200 refueling; more than 1,500 SEAD/DEAD/EW; and 

approximately 100 offensive counterair, 450 remotely piloted aircraft, 200 reconnais-

sance, and 250 information operations missions were conducted.



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