Gates stresses U.S. support role in Libya

  • Published
  • By Donna Miles
  • American Forces Press Service
The United States has no intention of putting boots on the ground in Libya and should not become militarily involved in unrest shaking Syria, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in portions of an interview that aired May 16 on "The CBS Evening News."

CBS anchorwoman Katie Couric spoke with the secretary over the last several weeks, and portions of those interviews aired on the "60 Minutes" program May 15.

Asked if the U.S. is at war with Libya, Secretary Gates said that from the U.S. standpoint, "we are involved in a limited, kinetic action."

"If I were in (Libyan strongman Moammar) Gadhafi's shoes, I would think I was at war," he added.

Secretary Gates said "war" connotes what has taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last several years.

"Our goal right now (in Libya) is actually very limited," he added. "It is basically a support role."

NATO has taken responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone against Gadhafi's forces, and some European nations are providing military advisors to the Libyan rebels. Secretary Gates emphasized that President Barack Obama "has been very, very clear" that he has no plans to deploy U.S. troops there.

As to whether the U.S. should consider getting involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria, where President Bashar Assad's regime continues a crackdown on protestors, Secretary Gates said such decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis.

"I don't think the United States ought to be militarily involved in Syria at all," he said. "I think it would be unlikely that any other country would want to take that on, either."