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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs