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Tuesday, July 26, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Mullen on NATO air war in Libya: 'Stalemate'

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has concluded that the NATO mission in Libya has reached a stalemate.


Officials said NATO's daily air strikes against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi have not yet threatened his political survival. They said Gadhafi could last for months or longer as his forces continue to repel the Western-backed rebels.

"We are generally in a stalemate," Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

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In a briefing on July 25, Mullen said NATO has reduced Gadhafi's military capabilities, Middle East Newsline reported. But the Libyan rebels have been unable to capitalize and significantly advance toward Tripoli.

"Certainly, I have been impressed with what NATO has done here, how fast it got together with the pressure that it's brought on Gadhafi," Mullen said. "It's dramatically attritted his forces, his major forces. That said, there's still plenty of challenges associated with the regime forces who have adjusted — that's not a surprise — adjusted to the opposition tactics."

The United States has been regarded as a marginal player in the NATO mission in Libya. Washington was said to be limited to a support role and not participating in daily combat raids on Gadhafi assets.

Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama does not have plans to raise its profile in the NATO mission. They said Washington would not provide weapons to the Libyan rebels.

"There's no decision to arm the [Transitional National Council] TNC on the part of the United States," Mullen said. "And secondly, I think, as I've said in the past, in the end the political outcome is the one that we see."

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