US Pushes Plan To Hand Off War Command - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

US Pushes Plan To Hand Off War Command

WASHINGTON - The United States insisted on Tuesday it will hand control of Libyan military operations to its allies within days despite rows over NATO's leadership role in the air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

Once the initial U.S.-led bombardment against Libyan leader Gadhafi's air defenses is complete, military planners still intend to pass on the leadership baton, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"I don't want to get out in front of the diplomacy that's been going on but I still think that a transfer within a few days is likely," Gates told reporters on a visit to Russia.

U.S. President Barack Obama has been trying to shore up faltering international backing for Libyan military operations by calling leaders in Europe and the Middle East.

Obama, wary of getting bogged down in another Muslim country as he tries to wind down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said on Monday NATO would have a coordinating role once the first heavy phase of military action was complete.

In Brussels, NATO diplomats sought again to bridge differences over whether and how the 28-member alliance should run the operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

Opinion polls show tepid U.S. public support for the Libya campaign as some members of Congress step up criticism of Obama. Some say he waited too long to get involved and others warn about sending stretched U.S. forces into a third war.

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