The Land of the Midnight Sun Leaving Operation Odyssey Dawn.
|A Norwegian F-16 fighter jet taking off from Souda Air Base on Crete, bound for an attack on Libyan targets.|
|Forsvaret/Lars Magne Hovtun|
The Norwegian opposition party, which supported the mission at its start - probably believing that its objectives could be reached quickly and easily - is now concerned that there is no end in sight. But all parties' initial support was strong: "Norway was one of the first European states to signal its willingness to implement a UN resolution aimed at protecting Libyan civilians and has six F-16s flying sorties."
Norway (and Denmark) punched well above their military weight by carrying out about 10 percent each of all bombing runs over Libya. Norway just couldn't continue to operate at such a quick pace - flying missions 20 hours a day. This pace was needed because the smaller coalition partners have more limited missions: "Norway is being called upon not least because its fighter jets can be used against all military targets singled out by NATO commanders, as long as civilian life is shielded. Most of the other NATO allies participating in the military intervention have stricter limits on use of their aircraft."
As for the larger mission, on May 10 it was reported: "NATO's official goals are the cessation of all attacks on civilians, the return to their bases of all forces threatening civilians, and a guarantee of unhindered humanitarian access to all Libyans in need. But those goals have yet to be achieved, and impatience among some NATO members regarding the military action in Libya appears to be setting in."
Seven weeks later, it's pretty much the same thing, except NATO's unofficial goal of regime change is now admitted, if only in private. And the coalition keeps getting a little less willing - Italy being the latest country to make noise about pulling out.
PS Those five Norwegians should be even more embarrassed now.
UPDATE: So, the long, hard slog in Libya is over for Norway. Sort of:
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Norwegian fighters flew 596 of the 6,125 missions by NATO in total so far, dropping 542 bombs and clocking up around 2,000 hours of flight time over a four month period.
Ten Norwegian staff officers will remain involved in the operations, where they may continue working on the selection of bombing targets.