NATO defends Libya mission from French criticism
A top NATO general defended the bombing campaign in Libya on Tuesday, saying the alliance was doing a "great job" after France and Britain urged allies to do more.
"With the assets we have, we are doing a great job," said General Mark van Uhm, NATO's chief of allied operations, adding that the alliance has kept a "high operational tempo" in recent days.
"NATO has continued to dismantle the fighting ability of the (Moamer) Kadhafi regime throughout the country, with particular attention to the three cities under the most threat, Ajdabiya, Brega and Misrata," he told a news briefing.
Since Friday, NATO warplanes have destroyed 49 Libyan regime tanks as well as nine armoured personnel carriers, three anti-aircraft guns and four large ammunitions bunkers, van Uhm said.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said earlier that allies were not pulling their weight. "NATO must fully play its role, and it is not doing so sufficiently," he said.
British counterpart William Hague also urged NATO members to contribute more combat aircraft. "We must maintain and intensify our efforts in NATO," he said.
Van Uhm said it was up to individual nations to decide what they contribute and how their military assets are used by NATO commanders.
"If you get more, you can do more," he said.
In Luxembourg, Spanish secretary of state for European affairs, Diego Lopez Garrido, said it was "not necessary" for allies to step up military contributions beyond those already committed through NATO.
"It is not necessary, the NATO action is going well," he said.
The alliance "is doing a good job," he insisted, identifying a UN-mandated operation to police a no-fly zone as "a success."
© 2011 AFP