General: Coalition Needed in Libya

General Raymond T. Odierno discusses options in Libya, Middle East

Beth Drucker

General Raymond T. Odierno speaks about the United States' military, its relationship with countries overseas, the role of technology in the army, and other aspects of the military at the IOP yesterday.

Commander of the Joint Forces Command General Raymond T. Odierno said he believed that the U.S. would only take action in Libya—such as creating a no-fly zone over the North African nation—in conjunction with other nations.

NATO has begun constant aerial monitoring of Libya—which is undergoing a tumultuous revolution—and is considering implementing a no-fly zone, major news outlets are reporting.

During his speech at the Institute of Politics yesterday, Odierno said a no-fly zone could be implemented, if need be, “within a couple days” and that heavy equipment, including tanks, could feasibly be brought in within a week.

While Odierno did not discuss any specific plans for the U.S., he said he expected the internal struggle in Libya to go on for “a very long time.”

Odierno discussed the conflict in Libya in response to an audience question, but spent much of the talk considering the ideal relationship between the military and the government.


The former Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq, Odierno led troops through “the surge,” and then the withdrawal.

But yesterday at the Forum, the general spoke about how his previous experience has taught him the limits of military power.

“The utility of force is greatest when it is part of the broad array of options the President may choose,” he said.

He emphasized that the nation’s success must be the priority, not the glory of the military or any individual.

“It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, it only matters that we compete and win honorably and ethically as a nation,” he said.

Beyond his discussion of Libya, Odierno also addressed two major regions of interest to the United States: the broader Middle East and Asia.

Odierno said he believed that many of the recent rebellions in the Middle East represented a “changing distribution of power,” motivated by the vast divide between the rich and the poor and the people and their government.

Odierno pointed to Asia as another rapidly evolving region that has “the greatest shifts in the balance of power.”

According to Odierno, there has been not only a political but also an economic power shift from Japan to India and China—but India and China have yet to match the quality of life of citizens in Japan due in part to their enormous populations, he said.

He also praised Harvard’s decision to recognize the Navy’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps as one that President John F. Kennedy ’40 would be proud of.

Odierno encouraged the audience to both support the military, and to dedicate themselves to the nation.

“I believe in the value of service—selfless dedication to a cause greater than oneself,” he said.


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