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Friday, April 22, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. okays non-lethal military surplus equipment to Libyan rebels

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to send military equipment to Libyan rebels who seek to oust the regime of Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi.


Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has approved $25 million in military equipment to the Libyan rebels. They said the military aid, a plan drafted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was for non-lethal equipment, including communications systems, to the Transitional National Council, regarded as the main rebel group.

"This is not $25 million in actual cash or money," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "It's actually in goods and services that would be drawn down from items already in government stocks that correspond with the needs of the TNC."

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In a briefing on April 20, Toner said Obama has yet to authorize the State Department proposal, Middle East Newsline reported. He said the surplus military equipment allocated to the rebels would include non-encrypted radios, body armor, uniforms, boots, tents, combat rations and medicine.

"I'm not sure that would require any or much training," Toner said.

The recommendation came after an administration assessment of the composition and requirements of the Libyan rebels. Earlier, officials acknowledged that the Libyan rebels were linked to Al Qaida-aligned elements.

"We are getting a better sense of their command structure, of their coherence as an entity, and that's helping us make better decisions about how we can help them," Toner said.

Officials said the administration has briefed Congress of the proposal to equip the Libyan rebels. In the April 15 briefing, the administration had recommended combat vehicles and refueling vehicles, which did not appear in the final State Department draft. Officials said the proposed vehicles could have been converted into offensive platforms.

"There is a leadership there that we believe can properly utilize this equipment," Toner said.

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