News / USA

    Panetta Praises Libya Campaign, Thanks Troops

    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta greets personnel while visiting the Sigonella Naval Air Station and NATO regional operations center, in Sigonella, Italy, October 7, 2011.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta greets personnel while visiting the Sigonella Naval Air Station and NATO regional operations center, in Sigonella, Italy, October 7, 2011.
    Luis Ramirez

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is praising the NATO mission in Libya and has thanked troops for their campaign in the north African country. Panetta stopped at military bases in Naples and Sicily to assess the operation after attending a conference of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, where alliance officials said the mission is in its final stages.

    The United States and NATO are weighing when to end the operation in Libya, and that question is what brought Panetta to military facilities in southern Italy involved in the Libya operation.

    The defense secretary met behind closed doors with senior commanders in charge of the campaign. A senior defense official said much of the decision on when to end the mission depends on the outcome of fighting in Sirte. The official said Panetta and the commanders also discussed the importance of ensuring that the new Libyan leadership is able to provide security for civilians.

    During his visit Friday to Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Naples, Panetta praised the mission that has helped Libyan revolutionary fighters drive the forces of former leader Moammar Gadhafi out of most of Libya. He said critics of the operation have been proven wrong.

    In a session with U.S. troops, Panetta - who recently took over as Defense Secretary after serving as director of the Central Intelligence Agency - thanked the troops, and in the process made reference to the CIA's possession of Predator drones.

    “Having moved from the CIA to the Pentagon, obviously I have a hell of a lot more weapons available to me in this job than I had in the CIA, although the Predators aren't bad,” Panetta said.

    He said the U.S. military's greatest asset are its soldiers.

    “I need to tell you that for all the planes, for all the ships, for all the submarines, for all of the sophisticated technology that we have, the most important weapon I have are the men and women who are willing to put on the uniform and fight for this country,” he said.

    At a question-and-answer session, and in the frank style for which Panetta has become known, he joked with a soldier who raised his concerns about being stretched and overworked.

    “You're telling me you're working your ass off?”

    Panetta also addressed soldiers' concerns on whether Iraq's government will grant immunity to any U.S. troops who might remain in the country beyond December, when the U.S. is due to complete its pullout.

    “I want to make damned sure that you're protected. So, we have to make that clear to the people we deal with that if they want the benefits of what we can provide, if they want the assistance, they want the training, if they want the operational skills that we can provide, then I think they have to understand that they've got to give us some protections in that process,” said Panetta.

    Panetta then flew to the Sigonella Naval Air Base in Sicily - from where air missions to Libya are launched - to thank troops of the multi-national force. It was his last stop on a tour that also included visits to Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Egypt.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora