- Operation Unified Protector
Operation Unified Protector Part of 2011 military intervention in Libya
NATO Unified Protector logo
Date 23 March 2011– 31 October 2011
Location Libyan airspace and Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya Belligerents NATO-led coalition
Libya Commanders and leaders James G. Stavridis
Muammar Gaddafi †
Strength See deployed forces
Operation Unified Protector was an NATO operation enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 concerning the 2011 Libyan civil war and adopted on 17 February and 17 March respectively. These resolutions imposed sanctions on key members of the Gaddafi government and authorized NATO to implement an arms embargo, a no-fly zone and to use all means necessary, short of foreign occupation, to protect Libyan civilians and civilian populated areas. The operation started on 23 March and gradually expanded during the following weeks, by integrating more and more elements of the multinational military intervention, which had started on 19 March in response to the same UN resolutions. As of 31 March 2011 it encompassed all international operations in Libya. NATO support was vital to the rebel victory over the forces loyal to Gaddafi. The operation officially ended on 31 October 2011, after the rebel leaders, formalized in the National Transitional Council, had declared Libya liberated on 23 October.
The operation began with a naval arms embargo, while command of the no-fly zone and the air strikes against Libyan Armed Forces remained under command of the international coalition, led by France, the United Kingdom and the United States, due to lack of consensus between NATO members. On 24 March NATO decided to take control of the no-fly zone enforcement, by integrating the air assets of the international coalition under NATO command, although the command of air strikes on ground targets remained under national authority. A few days later, on 27 March, NATO decided to implement all military aspects of the UN resolution and formal transfer of command occurred at 06:00 GMT on 31 March 2011, formally ending the national operations such as the U.S.-coordinated Operation Odyssey Dawn.
The arms embargo was initially carried out using mainly ships from NATO's Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1 already patrolling the Mediterranean Sea at the time of the resolution, enforced with additional ships, submarines and maritime surveillance aircraft from NATO members. They were to "monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries". The no-fly zone was enforced by aircraft transferred to Unified Protector from the international coalition, with additional aircraft from NATO and other allied nations. The air strikes, although under central NATO command, were only conducted by aircraft of the nations agreeing to enforce this part of the UN resolution.
With Operation Unified Protector, NATO is involved in an internal Libyan conflict, between those seeking to depose the country's long-time national leader Muammar Gaddafi and pro-Gaddafi forces. The conflict began as a series of non-peaceful disorders, part of the broader Arab Spring movement, which Gaddafi's security services attempted to repress, but which soon developed into a widespread uprising.
The situation further escalated into armed conflict, with rebels establishing a provisional government named the National Transitional Council based in eastern city of Benghazi and controlling the eastern part of the country and the western city of Misrata. The International Criminal Court warned Gaddafi that he and members of his government may have committed crimes against humanity. The United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution 1970, freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle, and restricting their travel. The resolution also referred the actions of the government to the International Criminal Court for investigation.
In early March, Gaddafi's forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities and finally began attacking the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on 19 March 2011. Two days earlier a second U.N. resolution, UNSC Resolution 1973, was passed which authorized member states to establish and enforce an arms embargo, a no-fly zone over Libya and to use all means necessary, short of foreign occupation, to protect Libyan civilians. In response to the resolution, the Gaddafi government announced a ceasefire, but failed to uphold it and continued to advance on the rebels and the Second Battle of Benghazi began.
In response to the U.N. resolution, voted on 17 March 2011, an international coalition was established and naval and air forces were quickly deployed in and around the Mediterranean Sea. Two days later, on 19 March, France intervened in the imminent Second Battle of Benghazi with air strikes on Gaddafi armor and troops and eventually forced them back. On the same day 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from UK and US ships, further air strikes against ground targets were executed and a naval blockade was established. The initial coalition consisted of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The official names for the interventions by the coalition members are Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn for the United States.
The U.S. initially coordinated the effort and took strategic and tactical command at UCC USAFRICOM, led by Carter Ham, and the Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, led by Samuel J. Locklear aboard the command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), respectively. From there on command was split between the air and naval components of the operation at which level the different participating countries commanded their assets in accordance with their rules of engagement and through liaison officers.
After the initial intervention, the U.S. wanted to scale down their involvement significantly to a supporting role. Due to lack of consensus within NATO, the only other body capable of commanding a multinational operation of this size, however, this was not possible immediately. As consensus grew during the next days, NATO took more and more parts of the operation under its command until taking command of all military operations on 31 March.
Political direction is provided by the North Atlantic Council to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. The chain of command is from Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James G. Stavridis (US Navy), to the Deputy Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Lt. General Charles Bouchard (Royal Canadian Air Force) acting as operational commander. From the operational level, command is further delegated to the Commander of Allied Maritime Command Naples, Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri (Italian Navy) for the naval operations and Commander of Allied Air Command Izmir, Lieutenant General Ralph J. Jodice II (US Air Force) for air operations.
Allied Maritime Command
- Belgian Naval Component
- Bulgarian Navy
- Canadian Forces
- French Navy (transferred from Opération Harmattan)
- Landing helicopter dock French ship Tonnerre (L9014)
- 2 × Atlantique 2 signals intelligence aircraft based at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy
- Task Force 473
- Aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91)
- Anti-air frigate Jean Bart (D615) (until 2 April 2011)
- Frigate Dupleix (D641)
- Frigate Aconit (F713)
- Frigate Chevalier Paul (D621)
- Frigate Georges Leygues (D640)
- Frigate Courbet (F712) (Returned to France)
- Replenishment tanker Meuse (A607)
- Nuclear attack submarine Améthyste (S605)
- Hellenic Navy
- Italian Navy
- NMM Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier
- NMM Andrea Doria, a Horizon-class destroyer
- NMM Libeccio, a Maestrale-class frigate
- NMM Etna, an Etna class auxiliary ship
- NMM Comandante Bettica, a Comandanti-class offshore patrol vessel
- Royal Netherlands Navy
- Romanian Navy
- Spanish Armed Forces
- Turkish Navy
- Royal Navy
- HMS Bangor (Sandown class minehunter)
- HMS Brocklesby (Hunt class minesweeper)
- HMS Ocean (Landing Platform Helicopter) (From 27 May 2011).
- HMS Albion (Albion class landing platform dock)
- HMS Liverpool (Type 42 destroyer) (Replaced HMS Cornwall from 9 April)
- HMS Sutherland (Type 23 frigate)
- HMS Iron Duke (Type 23 frigate)
- RFA Fort Rosalie (Stores ship)
- RFA Wave Knight (Tanker)
- HMS Triumph (Trafalgar class submarine)
- HMS Turbulent (Trafalgar class submarine)
- United States Navy
- USS Mount Whitney (Blue Ridge class command ship)
- USS Kearsarge (Wasp class amphibious assault ship)
- USS Bataan (Wasp class amphibious assault ship)
- USS Mesa Verde (San Antonio class amphibious transport dock)ref name="Bataan ARG"/>
- USS Whidbey Island (Whidbey Island class dock landing ship)
- USS Ponce (Austin class amphibious transport dock)
- USS Barry (Arleigh Burke class destroyer)
- USS Stout (Arleigh Burke class destroyer)
- USS Mahan(DDG-72) (Arleigh Burke class destroyer)
- USS Halyburton (FFG 40) (Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate) 
- USNS Kanawha (Henry J. Kaiser class oiler)
- USNS Lewis and Clark (Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship)
- USNS Robert E. Peary (Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship)
- USS Providence (Los Angeles class submarine)
- USS Scranton (Los Angeles class submarine)
- USS Florida (Ohio class submarine)
Allied Air Command
- Belgian Armed Forces
- Canadian Forces
- Royal Canadian Air Force
- Canadian Special Operations Forces Command
- Danish Armed Forces
- French Armed Forces
- French Air Force (transferred from Opération Harmattan)
- 8 × Rafale fighters
- 8 × Mirage 2000-5 fighters
- 6 × Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers
- 2 × Mirage F1CR reconnaissance aircraft
- 6 × C135 aerial refueling aircraft
- 1 x E-3F AWACS aircraft
- 1 x C-160G SIGINT electronic surveillance aircraft
- Commando Parachutiste de l'Air companies 20 and 30 forward deployed to Solenzara Air Base, Corsica
- French Air Force (transferred from Opération Harmattan)
- Greek Armed Forces
- Italian Armed Forces
- Italian Air Force
- 4 x Tornado ECR SEAD aircraft operating from Trapani Air Base
- 4 x Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets operating from Trapani Air Base
- 2 x Panavia Tornado IDS started air attacks against military targets in Libya with Storm Shadow Missiles and smart bombs JDAM and Paveway in 28 April, fighter jets operating from Trapani Air Base
- 4 x AMX Ghibli fighter jets operating since July 25
- Italian Air Force
- Netherlands Armed Forces
- Norwegian Armed Forces
- : Qatar Armed Forces
- Spanish Armed Forces
- Swedish Armed Forces
- Union Defence Force (UAE)
- British Armed Forces
- Jordanian Armed Forces
- United States Air Force
Contributions and expenses by country
- USA: from 1 April to 22 August, the US flew 5,316 sorties over Libya, including 1,210 strike sorties, with munitions deployed 262 times. By 31 July, the US had spent US$896 million in the conflict.
- France: By the end of August, French forces flew 4,500 sorties, had hit 2,500 military targets, including 850 logistics centers, 170 command and control facilities, 480 tanks, 250 vehicles and 160 pieces of artillery. As of 12 July, France had spent about €320 million for operations in Libya.
- UK: By 12 July, the UK had spent about €136 million on operations in Libya.
- Norway: Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 fighters flew daily missions, and as of the end of July 2011, when Norway ceased its participation in military operations, the Air Force had dropped up to 600 bombs during the conflict and flown about 10% of the sorties to that point.
- ^  NATO fact sheet on contributing nations as of 6 April 2011
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- NATO page about operations in Libya
- "Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR Command and Control" – North Atlantic Treaty Organization website
2011 Libyan civil warPart of the Arab Spring · Timeline (15 February–18 March · 19 March–31 May · June–15 August · 16 August–23 October) Forces BattlesCyrenaicaFirst Battle of Benghazi • First Battle of Brega • Battle of Ra's Lanuf • Battle of Bin Jawad • Second Battle of Brega • Battle of Ajdabiya • Second Battle of Benghazi • First Gulf of Sidra offensive • Third Battle of Brega • Battle of Brega–Ajdabiya road • Cyrenaica campaign • Fourth Battle of Brega • Ra's Lanuf raidFezzanSabha clashes • Fezzan campaign • Battle of Sabha • Ghadames raidTripolitania
First Tripoli clashes • Battle of Misrata • First Battle of Zawiya • Nafusa Mountain Campaign (Battle of Wazzin • Battle of Gharyan) • Battle of the Misrata frontline (Zliten uprising • Battle of Zliten • Battle of Taworgha) • Zawiya raid • Msallata clashes • Rebel coastal offensive (Second Battle of Zawiya) • Ras Ajdir clashes • Battle of Tripoli • Second Gulf of Sidra offensive (Battle of Sirte) • Battle of Bani Walid • Second Tripoli clashes
NATO operations PeopleAnti-GaddafiPro-GaddafiNATOOthers Places, buildings
ImpactCasualties • Domestic responses (Gaddafi's response to the protests – Gaddafi's response to the civil war) • Human rights violations (Rape allegations) • Humanitarian situation (Refugees) • International reactions (International reactions to military intervention – Protests against military intervention – U.S. reactions to military intervention – International reactions to Gaddafi's death) OtherDemocratic Party (Libya) • Libyan Freedom and Democracy Campaign • Media • National Transitional Council • Topple the Tyrants • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 • United Nations Security Council Resolution 2009 • United Nations Security Council Resolution 2016 • Voice of Free Libya • Zenga Zenga
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