What Would A No-Fly Zone In Libya Entail? Given the fighting in Libya, there are calls to enforce a no-fly zone over the country to keep the government from bombing and strafing rebellious citizens. Wednesday, the Arab League says it could join the African Union in imposing flight restrictions if the fighting continues. Host Michele Norris talks with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, who serves on the Center for a New American Security board of advisers, about how that might work — and some of the complications.
NPR logo

What Would A No-Fly Zone In Libya Entail?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134207962/134207956" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
What Would A No-Fly Zone In Libya Entail?

What Would A No-Fly Zone In Libya Entail?

What Would A No-Fly Zone In Libya Entail?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134207962/134207956" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Given the fighting in Libya, there are calls to enforce a no-fly zone over the country to keep the government from bombing and strafing rebellious citizens. Wednesday, the Arab League says it could join the African Union in imposing flight restrictions if the fighting continues. Host Michele Norris talks with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, who serves on the Center for a New American Security board of advisers, about how that might work — and some of the complications.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Joining us now to talk about this is Lieutenant General David A. Deptula. He's a retired Air Force officer and the CEO of Mav6. That's a company that contracts with the Department of Defense. Welcome to the program.

DAVID A: Thank you very much, Michele.

NORRIS: Now, there's a lot of debate over whether a no-fly zone is needed, whether it might actually be counterproductive. Could you help us understand the arguments for and against a no-fly zone, quickly?

DEPTULA: Sure, Michele, let me start this way. Everyone at least that I have seen out in the media has kind of jumped into the, OK, how would we do this? I would suggest to you that it's important to address a couple first order questions before we get into the how. And that is the why, the what, the where, the when and the who. You know, what are the desired strategic outcomes from imposing a no-fly zone?

NORRIS: Let's take the big one first. Who would actually enact a no-fly zone? Actually, let's take two, let's bite off two here. Who would enact a no-fly zone and how would it be enforced?

DEPTULA: Don't forget, this isn't just about imposing a no-fly zone. The people that are executing it need to be protected. So it's just not a matter of sending airplanes over there and shooting down Gadhafi's airplanes and helicopters when they fly, he has an entire integrated air defense system which consists of many, many batteries of surface-to-air missile systems. And...

NORRIS: So you're not just talking about jets or aerial vehicle.

DEPTULA: Absolutely. And he has a command and control system that ties it all together.

NORRIS: And I'm wondering, if this does begin with an attack on Libya, is that tantamount to an act of war?

DEPTULA: That's why I go back to first order questions of why are you doing this and to what strategic end? Do you want to enforce the humanitarian effort? Do you want to assist the rebels in overthrowing Gadhafi? Do you want to instigate regime change on your own?

NORRIS: Do you see this on the horizon?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DEPTULA: I'm pausing because it depends. It depends upon where - I believe that there will be some degree military involvement from a coalition of forces. But I believe that the United States would be wise to take a supporting role as opposed to a lead role.

NORRIS: David Deptula, thank you very much for coming in.

DEPTULA: My pleasure.

NORRIS: That's retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General David A. Deptula. He's a member of the board of advisers at the Center For A New American Security.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.