USS Mount Whitney
As we have pointed out earlier, the public debate about who will be in charge of operation Odyssey Dawn is a sideshow - in reality the US is the only power with the capacity to lead a major operation like this:
The command debate, however, may be more for political show than about real changes on the ground if NATO eventually does take the mantle, according to Lawrence Korb, from the Center for American Progress think-tank.
"It will help to change the perception of the operation," particularly in the Arab world, Korb told AFP. "The US is a critical part of the operation but we want to do it behind the scene."
French jets dropped the first bombs in the conflict before Tomahawk cruise missiles followed from US and British submarines.
Now the 12-country coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
More than half the 350 aircraft involved belong to the United States, but Gortney said that over the preceding 24 hours partner nations had flown "roughly half" of the 130 coalition sorties.
Twenty-six of the 38 ships in the Gulf of Sirte enforcing the UN arms embargo -- also under NATO command -- are from other countries, and Turkey has now offered five ships and a submarine.
But with several submarines, destroyers, the USS Mount Whitney command-and-control vessel, specialized surveillance aircraft as well as its fleet of fighter jets, the United States -- also the main contributor to NATO -- will remain at the heart of operations.
"The phrase that we use is that the United States will contribute its unique military capabilities to whatever this second phase of operation would be," General Carter Ham, the commander of US forces, told ABC News.
"There's probably some intelligence support that we would continue to provide, some communications, tankers for aircraft.... But we wouldn't see probably a large number of fighter aircraft for example."
Ham said he was confident command could be handed over "relatively quickly" but admitted there were some "very, very complex" procedures, especially with air operations, that might lengthen that transition period.
Read the entire article here.