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More bombing details due after all

Norwegian defense officials, under criticism over their reluctance to share details about bombing raids over Libya, now promise to be more open. They’ll start offering daily or weekly reports about what Norwegian fighter jet pilots have been doing as they carry out their orders.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg flew down to Crete over the weekend to visit Norwegian troops assigned to the Libyan operation. PHOTO: Statsministerenskontor

“We’ve learned from the criticism,” General Major Morten Haga Lunde told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend, when he and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited the air force base on Crete where the Norwegian pilots and military support personnel are stationed.

Both he and Stoltenberg promised much more frequent reports detailing the activity of the six Norwegian F16 jets that since March have been taking part in the UN-backed and NATO-led intervention in the Libyan civil war.

Stoltenberg claimed the extra information would give an adequate foundation for political debate over the Libyan operation. That’s what opposition politicians and commentators complain has been missing in recent months.

The Norwegian air force is sharing the Greek and American Souda Bay Airbase on Crete with fighter jets from France and Qatar that also are taking part in the bombing aimed at protecting Libyan civilians from their own government forces.

Lunde could now reveal that a total of 335 Norwegian bombs have hit everything from Libyan military command centers to tanks and ammunition depots. All told, Norwegian pilots have spent 1,700 hours in the air since their missions began on March 23, he told Aftenposten. The military has earlier defended the missions’ effectiveness.

Stoltenberg’s government will decide shortly after the next NATO ministerial meeting on June 8-9 how the Norwegian contribution to the Libyan operation will proceed. Defense Minister Grete Faremo already has said it likely will be reduced. Lunde wouldn’t answer whether the Norwegian forces can maintain the same intense tempo that’s been demanded since late March.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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