Well, here we go. Strikes could begin “within hours.”
Options included using cruise missiles to take out fixed Libyan military sites and air-defense systems, according to these officials. Manned and unmanned aircraft could also be used against Col. Gadhafi’s tanks, personnel carriers and infantry positions, with sorties being flown out of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization bases in the southern Mediterranean.
“There is significant, serious planning going on right now,” a U.S. official said. The options would be “more aggressive than a show of force.”
Washington, however, was reluctant for any military operation in Libya to be seen as American-led. NATO involvement in military action was possible, depending on the outcome in the Security Council, a European diplomat said.
Since NATO is a consensus organization, an abstention by Germany at the U.N. and possible objection from Turkey would put in doubt whether agreement on such action is possible.
The assertive U.S. posture marked a turnaround from the early days of the month-old Libyan crisis, when President Barack Obama’s administration, and particularly his defense advisers, seemed reluctant to embrace military action.
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