Full text from Speech made at a Press Conference held at Allied Joint Force Command, Naples on Mar 31 by Lt.Gen Bouchard, Combined Joint Commander of Operation Unified Protector.
Thank you all very much for coming here today. I also want to thank Brussels for connecting us to their news conference.
Let me kick this off by saying that NATO is now exercising the full spectrum of maritime and air operations.
On Thursday morning at 0600 GMT NATO took sole command of international air operations over Libya.
The Alliance has the powerful assets in place to conducts its task under Operation Unified Protector - the arms embargo, No - Fly Zone and actions to help protect civilians and civilian centres.
In line with the Mandate of UNSCR 1973, NATO's focus is on protecting civilians and civilian - populated areas against the threat of attack.
I am pleased to report that the handover - the transition - with coalition forces has been seamless - with no gap in the effort.
In fact, I'll go as far as to say that these are historic days. The speed and agility with which NATO has acted is the future of NATO - we are now making history.
Early this morning - NATO Command and Control issued its first order to fighter and support aircraft for Operation Unified Protector, enforcing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
NATO aircraft are covering these military activities.
That means NATO has started surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the No - Fly Zone. This has taken place in coordination with Coalition Operations.
The complete transition of units to NATO authority is a national decision for individual countries. These transfers are completed - NATO is fully responsible for the military effort.
We have more than 100 fighter and support aircraft and more than a dozen maritime assets from several different nations under my NATO Command.
To be clear - as of today, NATO is responsible for Operation Unified Protector.
So far - NATO has already conducted more than 90 flights/sorties since early this morning.
We already have more than 12 frigates patrolling in the Mediterranean with several other support ships and helicopters. Armed boarding teams on these ships are now ready to act if necessary.
This is a clear demonstration of our allies' commitment to fulfil their obligations under the U.N. Mandate - and to show their resolve to help protect the people of Libya.
That means NATO ships, submarines and aircraft are fully enforcing now the U.N. Resolution 1973.
We are cooperating with our partners in the region and internationally and welcome their contributions.
Our goal is to help protect civilians and the civilian - populated areas under threat of attack.
NATO is implementing all aspects of the U.N. Resolution in a balanced and impartial way.
My thanks go out to our coalition counterparts. The handover of these responsibilities was seamless - without any gaps in the international, U.N. Mandated military presence over Libya.
NATO's task is to closeLibya's air space to all flights - except aid and humanitarian flights.
NATO aviators and controllers will do everything they can to deny any use of air power against civilians. They will do so with care and precision to avoid harming the people of Libya.
If ordered to do so - NATO aircraft can engage any planes which violate the No - Fly Zone, and of course, NATO can act in self - defence.
I know many of you are interested in the operational details - and now that NATO has command - we will be updating you on a daily basis with more specific information regarding this military effort.
Without the great support of all contributors this historic mission could simply not have been accomplished. For that reason I want to emphasise the importance of this Alliance and its partners.
The speed and agility with which NATO has acted is the future of NATO, we are now making history.
This is the future of the Alliance.
And with that I'd be glad to take a few questions to answer.
Before I leave you all, I have one final thing to say, and that is, I strongly advise the attackers to cease and withdraw immediately.