By Sam Youngman - 03/19/11 08:27 PM EDT
President Obama on Saturday authorized limited military strikes against Libya in an effort to stop Moammar Gadhafi's aggression against his people.
"Today I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya," Obama said. "That action has now begun."
Vice Admiral William Gortney, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. and British submarines under Operation Odyssey Dawn launched more than 110 Tomahawk missiles at air defenses in Libya.
Gortney said because it is night in Libya, it will be some time before it is clear how much damage was done. "This is the first phase of what will likely be a multi-phased operation," Gortney said.
Obama said Gadhafi was given a choice on Friday to either declare and adhere to an immediate ceasefire or face the consequences from the international community.
"So we must be clear: Actions have consequences," Obama said.
The president told the American people that military intervention was "not our first choice," but Obama said the U.S. "cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his own people there will be no mercy."
Obama, speaking from Brazil, stressed that the U.S. is not working alone, and the president repeated that the United States will not deploy ground troops in Libya.
"Make no mistake, today we are part of a broad coalition," Obama said. "We are answering the calls of a threatened people, and we are acting in the interest of the United States and the world."
Obama made clear that he authorized the military strikes as a last resort after weeks of violence in Libya and more aggression by Gadhafi.
"I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we put on it," Obama said.