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End of NATO Operations in Libya

Published: 31 Oct 2011

Conclusion of NATO Operations in Libya

NATO operations in Libya conclude Monday 31 October 2011. The announcement, brings to an end one of the most successful military campaigns that NATO and UK forces have conducted, and marks the point at which withdrawal of individual nations' forces can commence.

NATO's announcement came on Friday 28 October 2011, while Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was in Italy, enabling him to give the go-ahead to an initial drawdown of UK assets, which will also see dozens of supporting staff return home. Mr Hammond said: "Our Armed Forces can be immensely proud that their hard work has assured the liberty of the Libyan people. This is a job well done and we will be sending our crews home from tonight. I have given my personal thanks today to some of the aircrew and support personnel at Gioia del Colle."

Officer Commanding 906 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), Group Captain Peter Squires, said: "With the formal announcement of the end of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, we can reflect on the considerable and significant contribution that 906 Expeditionary Air Wing has made towards the mission to protect the lives of Libyan civilians.

"From the very first day of the Operation, the UK has been at the forefront of the campaign providing unrelenting over-watch of the ground situation, co-ordinating and refuelling all the aircraft and, when needed, employing precision weapons to defend the Libyan people. The high tempo could not have been sustained without our international partners, particularly our Italian hosts, and we owe them a very big thanks for their unstinting support.

"The skill and professionalism of all EAW personnel, who have worked tirelessly to ensure the aircraft are able to perform their variety of missions, has been immense. Their innovation and perseverance has been at the very core of everything we have achieved and I am extremely proud to have commanded them during this highly successful operation."

Praise has also been bestowed on the Eurofighter Typhoon for the aircraft's performance during the conflict in Libya. An article in the Daily Telegraph describes the aircraft's Libyan experience as 'flawless'.

This note has been followed by a press release from the MOD:


The 31 October marks the end of NATO's combat Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR initiated to enforce UNSCR 1973 to protect Libyan civilians from Colonel Gaddafi's regime forces.

On 28 October, NATO's Secretary General announced following consultation with the new Libyan authorities and the United Nations Security Council, that there is no longer a need for NATO and its partners to conduct combat operations on a routine basis to protect Libyan civilians and Operation Unified PROTECTOR would cease on 31 October.

This announcement therefore also ends, as of today, the combat missions of Operation ELLAMY the UK Armed Forces' contribution to NATO's UNIFIED PROTECTOR.

At the peak of operations the UK had 4,000 Armed Forces Personnel and MOD civil servants, 32 aircraft and four ships committed to the operation.

The withdrawal of UK assets has already begun. Some assets however could be required over the coming months to maintain a surveillance effort as the new Libyan authorities work to secure the country.


1. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said on 28 October:

"Our armed forces can be immensely proud that their hard work has assured the liberty of the Libyan people. This is a job well done and we will be sending our crews home from tonight. I have given my personal thanks today to some of the aircrew and support personnel at Gioia del Colle."

2. Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said:

"The innovation, skill and dedication of the Royal Air Force has been pivotal – the fast jets may have gained the lion's share of the attention, but the effort goes much wider than that, encompassing a very broad range of aircraft types. The Navy has again shown its ability to endure; and some ships have been in the thick of the action. And the Army too played a part, with small scale but telling contributions."

3. Through Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, NATO established a campaign that brought together forces from 18 nations, not just member states of the alliance, but also partners from the Arab world.

4. NATO's achievement has been to bring together a wide range of contingents and capabilities, large and small, and harness them effectively to deliver real effect, on a daily basis, wherever it was needed by the Libyan people.

5. The operation to protect Libyan civilian lives began on 19 March with the unambiguous authority of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Since the start of military operations, and as part of an 18 nation coalition, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps strikes have played a significant role in the enforcement of the UNSCR, the destruction of former regime forces and in enabling the liberation of the Libyan people.

6. Predominantly an air campaign, the UK has flown more than 3,000 sorties, more than 2,100 were strike sorties, successfully striking around 640 targets


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