Reports are pouring in that the US has begun operations against Gadaffi forces in Libya. The US is firing Tomahawk missiles and explosions have been heard in Tripoli but details cannot be confirmed. President Obama has issued a statement saying that “Today I authorized a limited military action in Libya… We cannot stand idly by…”
ABC News reports:
U.S. military officials have confirmed the first American tomahawk cruise missiles have been fired at targets inside Libya from ships in the Mediterranean Sea.
The move is the first direct U.S. involvement in the international operation mobilizing to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s attacks on opposition strongholds and enforce a U.N.-backed no-fly zone.
Pentagon officials said there were 11 U.S. ships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea, including three submarines and two destroyers capable of firing cruise missiles, and several amphibious ships and supply ships.
The first strikes in what is being called “Operation Odyssey Dawn” were expected to target air defense missile sites around Tripoli, Misratah, and Surt, but no areas east of that or near Benghazi, officials said.
In a Pentagon briefing going on now, we were told that Cruise missiles were fired from US and UK ships hitting military targets near the coast and that “This is just the first phase of what will likely be a multiphased operation.”
Update from Pentagon briefing: They are providing very little information, will not discuss next actions or precise targets but the US action followed the French. Over twenty targets were hit.
CNN reporting the strikes hit near Tripoli and Misratah.
Update: The BBC reports:
2031: A US military chief says a total of 110 Tomahawk missiles have been launched against Libyan sites. He said the Coalition operation has been named Odyssey Dawn.
Update: In comments, 4cdave links to the Navy for the following:
Tomahawk® Cruise Missile
Unit Cost: Approximately $569,000 (FY99 $).
Update: Al Jazeera has more from the briefing by Vice Admiral William Gortney, the Director of the US Joint Staff:
He said that US military aircraft were not currently in Libyan air space in this phase of operations, and that the US was using its “unique capabilities to shape the battlespace” before handing over command of operations to other coalition leaders.
Currently, officers with coalition partners are aboard the USS Mount Whitney, from where military operations are being commanded.
He also said that further action will depend on a bomb damage assessment, adding that this could not be done using US Reaper or Predator drones, as they were not being deployed. He anticipated that this would take 6-12 hours.
Update: While Obama repeated in his statement that no US ground forces will be used in Libya, we read the following:
Three locally based ships will deploy early and head to the Mediterranean Sea next week in case they are needed for response to the crisis in Libya.
The amphibious assault ship Bataan, amphibious transport dock ship Mesa Verde and the dock landing ship Whidbey Island will depart March 23, the Navy announced today.