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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More