President Barack Obama answers questions during a press conference on the White House complex in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Washington, D.C. - President Barack Obama Wednesday categorically ruled out a land invasion to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as coalition forces launched a fifth day of air strikes against government military targets in the North African nation.
And Obama said the U.S. this week will be pulling back from its dominant role in the international campaign aimed at preventing Gadhafi from attacking civilians.
In international attacks early Wednesday, missiles from F-15 fighter jets destroyed Gadhafi missile sites around Tripoli. In two cities where pro-Gadhafi troops have besieged civilians, the international force struck a government ammunition depot outside Misrata and other planes hit ground forces outside Ajdabiya, officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Asked what the exit strategy is, he didn't lay out a vision for ending the international action, but rather said: "The exit strategy will be executed this week in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment."
"We'll still be in a support role, we'll still be providing jamming, and intelligence and other assets that are unique to us, but this is an international effort that's designed to accomplish the goals that were set out in the Security Council resolution," Obama said.
The U.S. effort has easily cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the cost and the potential for casualties, Obama said he believes the American public is supportive of such a mission.
"This is something that we can build into our budget. And we're confident that not only can the goals be achieved, but at the end of the day the American people are going to feel satisfied that lives were saved and people were helped," he said.