Lending support

Published 11:28 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn on Saturday. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya’s Mediterranean coast.

Local ships to deploy to Libya

Locally based military ships, including the USS Bataan and USS Whidbey Island are preparing to deploy today in support of allied forces in Libya.

A group of countries that includes the United States has joined forces to enforce a no-fly zone over the African country. The forces are attempting to keep Moammar Gadhafi from dispatching his air force for attacks on civilians.

Other local ships deploying soon include the USS Mesa Verde. Five Hampton Roads-based Navy ships already are in the Mediterranean Sea in support of the operations.

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President Barack Obama has said no U.S. ground troops would be stationed in the country, which lies west of Egypt in northern Africa. America is trying to hand over control of the situation to European allies as soon as possible.

Congressman Randy Forbes, who represents Suffolk, indicated concerns about the United States’ involvement in Libya on his blog Tuesday.

“The United States is now involved in three major conflicts, and we have received vague justification for action in Libya so far,” Forbes said. “As chairman of the Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, I am concerned that action in Libya could have a negative impact on our military capabilities. The president has a responsibility to come to Congress with answers to these questions and to outline a clear definition of what his objectives are in Libya.”

In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Senator Jim Webb also expressed concerns.

“We have a military operation that’s been put into play, but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or a clear statement of foreign policy that is accompanying this military operation,” Webb said. “We know we don’t like the Gadhafi regime, but we do not have a clear picture of who the opposition really is.”

Webb also expressed concerns about key countries that abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote — Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany.

On Tuesday, the United States also learned that two crew members were forced to eject from an F-15E Strike Eagle when it experienced mechanical problems over Libya. A helicopter rescued the pilot, while the other crew member was recovered by anti-Gadhafi Libyans and reportedly treated well until U.S. crews could reach him.