Washington (CNN)– As the NATO mission in Libya progressively moves forward, Sen. Lindsey Graham posed the pivotal question of the day, "Can American forces fly under the NATO banner, or has President Obama taken that off the table?"
Under the current situation, at some point U.S. unit commanders would be reporting to NATO leaders who would not necessarily include high-ranking American officers. However, individual American servicemembers like pilots, Marines and soldiers would get orders from their own American unit commanders.
In an interview that aired Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room," the South Carolina Republican told Wolf Blitzer he would support the decision to transfer the mission to full-on NATO control but not an action to eliminate American-flown missions and weaponry from the NATO force configuration, voicing concern that such measures would undermine the capability of the NATO mission.
"Eliminating U.S. weaponry, grounding U.S. gunships and not allowing U.S. A-10s to fly under NATO command would weaken the entire NATO operation in Libya," Graham said.
Graham, along with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have raised concerns about the action in Libya, but have remained supportive of U.S. involvement.
Graham praised Obama's efforts in Libya but pointed out the "eerie" similarities between the current strategy and the mission the United States carried out in Iraq, saying, "We didn't have the right strategy to bring the right answer."
"The right answer is to replace (Libyan strongman Moammar) Gadhafi. If American military power can't be used, then we have really degraded NATO. I don't see how you politically replace him if you don't have the military component to make him leave," Graham said.
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