NATO mission in Libya to end soon, commander says

The NATO-led military intervention in Libya is headed for a close, according to the alliance's top general.

About 24 hours after reports began to surface of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's capture and death, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis took to social media to announce the military portion of the mission likely would soon be over.

"An extraordinary 24 hours in Libya. As SACEUR, I will be recommending conclusion of this mission to the North Atlantic Council of NATO in a few hours," Stavridis wrote on his Facebook page, using shorthand for his NATO title of supreme allied commander-Europe.

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"A good day for NATO," wrote Stavridis, also U.S. European Command chief, and one of the American military's rising stars. "A great day for the people of Libya."

President Obama on Thursday also suggested the NATO mission would end soon, saying the U.S. mission would soon be over. 

Only a handful of Gadhafi-loyalist fighters remain on the offensive in Libya, according to regional media.

The NATO-led mission began in March with U.S. fighter jets, aerial tankers, intelligence-gathering planes and naval ship-fired Tomahawk cruise missiles leading the alliance's efforts to assist Libyan rebel forces.

After a few weeks, American military assets largely took on a supporting role, while French and other NATO forces took the lead on striking Gadhafi forces and targets.

Members of both parties criticized the Obama administration in the wake of his decision to deploy U.S. assets for the mission, raising concerns about lax congressional notification and the cost of the operation at a time of domestic fiscal turbulence.

Pentagon officials and independent analysts say Washington's price tag for its role will approach $1 trillion.

In a series of interviews Thursday with The Hill, lawmakers from both parties applauded Gadhafi's death, saying Libya has a chance to become a stable democracy with a vibrant economy in a volatile region. But few changed their minds about how the White House handled its decision to use military force.