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Pentagon: 'no American boots on the ground in Libya'

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The United States will not become involved in any operations on the ground in Libya, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Thursday, declaring that Colonel Gaddafi will be removed by his own people.

The United States will not become involved in any operations on the ground in Libya, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Thursday, declaring that Colonel Gaddafi will be removed by his own people.

Testifying in the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on the ongoing international military operations in Libya, he said the United States will in the coming days, "significantly ramp down" its commitment of other military capabilities and resources in the Libya operation.

The goal of Operation Odyssey Dawn, which was launched on March 19, was limited in scope and scale, he said.

"The coalition quickly achieved its first military objective by effectively grounding Colonel Gaddafi's air force and neutralizing his air defenses."

Responsibility for leading and conducting this mission - now called Operation Unified Protector - has shifted to an integrated NATO command, Gates said.

The U.S. military will provide the capabilities that others cannot provide either in kind or in scale, "such as electronic attack, aerial refueling, lift, search and rescue, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support."

It was in the United States' national interests to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Eastern Libya that "could have destabilized the entire region at a delicate time," Gates said.

MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti) 

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