U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear III told House Armed Services Committee member Mike Turner last month that NATO forces are trying to kill Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Foreign Policy magazine reported, citing Turner.
Locklear heads the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy. Turner, an Ohio Republican who voted yesterday against authorizing the Libyan operation, said the admiral also told him that ground troops may be needed in Libya after Qaddafi is ousted, the magazine reported.
The Foreign Policy “story does not accurately reflect Admiral Locklear’s views on either ground troops or the targeting of any individual, including Colonel Qaddafi,” Captain Ike Skelton, public affairs officer for Locklear’s command in Naples, said in an e-mail. “The admiral clearly understands and has repeatedly emphasized the stated objectives for the military mission.”
The House rejected a resolution yesterday on a 295-123 vote that would have authorized U.S. support for allied bombardment of Qaddafi’s forces. Then, on a 238-180 vote, it defeated legislation to bar U.S. forces from engaging in hostilities.
“Without wishing to engage on the specifics” of the Foreign Policy article, “NATO’s position has been clear since the beginning of the Libyan operation: We do not target individuals and we do not have troops on the ground,” a NATO official said today in an e-mail. “NATO’s mission is to use all necessary means to prevent attacks and the threat of attack against civilians and civilian-populated centers, as the UN mandated.”
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.