As Gadhafi Holds On, What's Next For NATO? With the Libyan rebels repeatedly getting driven back, it has become apparent to many analysts that airstrikes alone can't help them take on Gadhafi's forces effectively. Some observers are now saying the conflict could drag on for years.
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As Gadhafi Holds On, What's Next For NATO?

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As Gadhafi Holds On, What's Next For NATO?

As Gadhafi Holds On, What's Next For NATO?

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Speaking today on Capitol Hill, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen said the airstrikes have had modest success so far.

MIKE MULLEN: We have actually fairly seriously degraded his military capabilities. We've attrited his overall forces at about the 20 to 25 percent level. That doesn't mean that he's about to break, from a military standpoint, because that's just not the case.

BLOCK: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports now from Tripoli on the limitations and perils of NATO's bombing campaign.

LOURDES GARCIA: Unidentified Man #1: That was yesterday.

GARCIA: Unidentified Man #4: The military dump was hit by airstrikes, and there probably start - going different directions. That's one of their interpretations.

GARCIA: Here's Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaking last week.

ROBERT GATES: Some people here are taking at face value Gadhafi's claims about the number of civilian casualties, which as far as I'm concerned are just outright lies.

GARCIA: In the east, it's a different problem. In Benghazi, rebel Mohammed al- Fatih says he feels like the airstrikes aren't really helping.

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSIONS)

MOHAMMED AL: No, no, no. I think we have noticed that it's a little bit - it's too little now. Especially last week, you know, NATO was doing nothing.

GARCIA: Michael O'Hanlon is with the Brookings Institution. He says Gadhafi's troops have been adapting to the airstrikes, and NATO is now facing...

MICHAEL O: ...a Libyan army force that's increasingly learning how to deal with our airpower.

GARCIA: And so O'Hanlon and some other analysts are now no longer predicting a fight that will end in a matter of days or a matter of months but possibly of years.

HANLON: There's a chance that the real endgame is going to be only as he realizes and his supporters realize that sanctions will not be lifted. And the rebels will, in fact, be able to build up their forces with time, to actually march on Tripoli in 2013, let's say.

GARCIA: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Tripoli.

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