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Multiple anti-aircraft defenses, airforce assets, and army vehicles, artillery, and tanks damaged or destroyed
114 killed and 445 wounded (Libyan health ministry claim)* 40 civilians killed (in Tripoli; Vatican claim)
*Libyan health ministry claim has not been independently confirmed and Libyan government figures have been shown as unreliable or misinformation. The U.S. military claims it has no knowledge of civilian casualties.
The U.S. initially had strategic command of the military intervention, coordinated missions between coalition members and set up Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn on USS Mount Whitney for the tactical command and control in the area of operations. but passed complete military command of the operation to NATO and took up a support role on 31 March 2011. Prior to that, an agreement to pass command of the arms embargo to NATO was reached on 23 March, and a handover of enforcement of the no-fly zone to NATO was agreed to on 24 March and became effective the following day. With the handover of coalition command to NATO, Operation Odyssey Dawn remained the name for the activities of U.S. forces, and the coalition's objectives continued to be carried out under Operation Unified Protector. However, NATO's objectives did not include aiding the rebel forces' efforts to take control of territory held by the government.
The strategic command of Operation Odyssey Dawn was under the authority of General Carter Ham, the Combatant Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), a Unified Combatant Command of the Department of Defense. Tactical command in the theater of operations was under command of Admiral Sam Locklear, the Commander of United States Naval Forces Africa on board the command ship USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea. Vice Admiral Harry B. Harris, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, assumed responsibilities as the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander, also stationed aboard USS Mount Whitney. Major General Margaret H. Woodward was commander of US Air Force aircraft involved in the operation. On 21 March 2011, President Obama stated the U.S. military action would be scaled back soon and was considering handing over command of the operation to either France, the UK or NATO. On 24 March 2011, NATO took command of enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya and was considering taking control of the rest of the mission. On 24 March 2011, the coalition agreed to have NATO command the no-fly zone, and the U.S. Department of Defense stated that the U.S. would relinquish command of Operation Odyssey Dawn as early as 28 March.
Over 400 Marines of 1st Battalion 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina deployed as the Air Contingency Battalion (ACB), on 1 March 2011 to serve as the new Battalion Landing Team for the 26th MEU. The ACB was attached to the 26th MEU on 5 March 2011 at NAS Souda Bay. This was the first time ACB has been used in almost a decade.
Two MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from the 26th MEU participated in the pilot rescue.
"Libyan ship or vessel, remain anchored. Do not leave port. The Gaddafi regime forces are violating a United Nations resolution ordering the end of hostilities in your country. If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroued immediately. For your own safety, do not leave port."
21h: The first main strike involved the launch of 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. and UK ships against shoreline air defenses of the Gaddafi regime. The U.S. Department of Defense reports that the dismantling of Libya's ability to hinder the enforcement of the UN no-fly zone was only the first of multiple stages in the operation. USMC Harriers participated in an air strike against a large military convoy outside Benghazi.
All fixed SA-2 Guideline, SA-3 Goa and SA-5 Gammon sites were taken out. Only SA-6 Gainful, hand held SA-7 Grail and SA-8 Gecko mobile SAMs are still a possible threat to aircraft. In the early hours of the day a building from Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli was completely destroyed by a cruise missile. Twelve more cruise missiles were fired at command and air defense sites.
At approximately 22:30 CET (evening of 21 March), a USAFE F-15E 91-0304 operating out of RAF Lakenheath (TDY to Aviano Air Base) crashed about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Benghazi. Both crew members ejected at high altitude and were subsequently separated. A MV-22 Osprey, supported by two AV-8Bs, two CH-53E Super Stallions, and a KC-130J Hercules from the 26th MEU initially recovered the pilot, while the weapons officer was recovered later after being rescued by rebel forces in the area. Two Marine Harriers accompanying the rescue force dropped two 500 lb bombs at the request of the ejected pilot, prior to the MV-22 landing in an attempt to deter an unidentified group of people heading towards the area. The UK had a "peripheral involvement" in the rescue of the U.S. pilots.
Six local villagers, including a young boy, were reported to have been injured by gunfire from the rescuing U.S. forces, A Marine spokesperson aboard USS Kearsarge denied that shots were fired, saying: "The Osprey is not armed, and the Marines barely got off the aircraft. I was in the landing center the whole time, where we were monitoring what was going on, and firing was never reported", Pentagon sources were later reported to have confirmed that shots were fired, but the source of the civilian casualties is still being investigated.
Overnight, the U.S. bombed the wreckage of the downed F-15E "to prevent materials from getting into the wrong hands."
In a 24-hours period; 175 air sorties were conducted (113 US, 62 coalition). Around this time, the U.S. changed its target priorities from air defenses to Libyan ground forces.
Three laser-guided bombs were launched from 2 F-16s of the Royal Norwegian Airforce against Libyan tanks. F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Airforce bombed an airfield in Libya during the night. Coalition planes flew 164 sorties and coalition leaders reported damage to Gadhafi's ground forces.
Attack submarine USS Providence completed all assigned strike missions and left the area to return to its previous duties.
At this point in the mission, the U.S. was responsible for 80% of air refueling, 75% of aerial surveillance hours and 100% of electronic warfare missions.
28 & 29 March
On 28 March, a USAF A-10 and a USN P-3 attacked a Libyan Coast Guard vessel and two smaller craft after U.S. forces observed them firing into Misurata and at merchant vessels. The P-3 fired AGM-65F Maverick missiles at the patrol boat Vittoria, forcing the crew to beach her. The A-10 strafed the other two smaller boats with its 30mmGAU-8 Avenger cannon rounds, sinking one and forcing the crew to abandon the other. The USS Barry provided situational awareness for the aircraft by managing the airspace and maintaining the maritime picture.
From 08:00 EET, NATO took sole command of air operations over Libya under Operation Unified Protector, taking over from U.S. Africa Command. The four Danish F-16 fighters flew a total of 43 missions and dropped 107 precision munitions in operation Odyssey Dawn before transiting to NATO command.
There has been criticism over the handling of the operation and the belief that the Obama administration failed to adequately consult the U.S. Congress. The Obama administration defended its handling of the Libyan crisis, drawing a clear line between military and political objectives. On 24 March White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters "We are not engaged in militarily-driven regime change." Instead, the administration is engaged in "time-limited, scope-limited" action with other countries to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. However, this conflicts with multiple statements seeming to imply regime change as at least one objective of the Operation, including a report made to Congress as required by House Resolution 292:
Establishing these conditions would pave the way for a genuine political transition - of which Qadhafi's departure is a critical component. To bring about this objective, along with the international community, the United States responded to this crisis by developing, implementing, and monitoring sanctions and freezing billions in Government of Libya assets, building a broad international coalition focused on escalating diplomatic pressure on Qadhafi and increasing his isolation, and initiating and sustaining political support for military operations. ... Politically, U.S. leadership continues to play an important role in maintaining and expanding this international consensus that Qadhafi must step down, sending an unambiguous message to the regime. We continue working with the international community to enhance the capabilities of the Libyan opposition and increase the ability to achieve political transition. After many meetings with senior opposition members in Washington and abroad, combined with daily interactions with the U.S. mission in Benghazi, we have stated that the TNC has demonstrated itself to be the legitimate interlocutor of the Libyan people, in contrast to the Qadhafi regime that has lost all legitimacy to rule.
^From Wired, "The U.S. military's nickname for the no-fly zone in Libya sounds like the beginning of a long adventure. But Defense Department officials insist that there's no hidden meaning behind 'Operation Odyssey Dawn.' It's just the product of the Pentagon's semi-random name-generating system."
^USS Providence left the area some time around 27-28 March.