Canadian General to Run NATO’s Libya Command

Canadian Lt. General Charlie Bouchard

NATO has named three-star Canadian general, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, to run NATO’s Libya operations, enforcing a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and arms embargo, an alliance official said March 25.

Bouchard will also take command of the entire military campaign to protect civilians from troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi when and if the 28-member alliance takes the reins of the entire Libya campaign from a U.S.-led coalition.

The coalition launched by Britain, France and the United States kicked off its campaign six days ago but Washington, along with several members of the alliance, is anxious to see NATO take the helm as soon as possible.

Reluctance to engage in strikes by NATO’s sole Muslim member, Turkey, as well as concerns over the political leadership of the campaign voiced by France, have held up the transfer of command.

After days of fraught talks that Thursday produced a NATO agreement to enforce the no-fly zone while refraining from offensive action, ambassadors of the alliance are expected to meet again on Sunday to try to reach a decision on whether to assume leadership of all operations.

Based at NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, the Libya campaign has been codenamed “Operation Unified Protector”.

In Ottawa earlier, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Canada was awaiting the nomination of the Naples-based officer to the force.