Washington (CNN) – Speaking at the Pentagon today, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters President Obama has "approved the use of armed predators" in Libya. Gates asserted that the use of armed predators will provide NATO with "some precision capability" enabling allied forces to concentrate on Ghadafi strongholds that have started migrating into urban areas.
Drones, commonly known as unmanned aircraft, were deployed during the early days of the campaign for surveillance purposes without the authorization to fire.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright added that allies are seeing a much more "dispersed fight" since operations began in mid-February. "We're trying to struggle with the intermixing of the lines so to speak, so it's very difficult to pick friend from foe," said Cartwright, adding that predator drones may be able to help allied forces distinguish between Gadhafi and rebel forces.
Asked whether the increased capability was a form of mission creep, Gates reinforced that the President has been clear about the United States' role in Libya from day one, "the primary strike role has been turned over to our allies and our friends and if we can make a modest contribution with these armed predators, we'll do it."
As a Republican holdover, Secretary Gates is set to leave his post by the end of 2011. When asked by one reporter whether he's concerned that Libya could still be a potential stalemate by the time he leaves, he smiled and said, "well, the worry will be my successor's."
Tonight on John King, USA, John and Diane Foley will join us to discuss their son, journalist James Foley who has been missing in Libya for 17 days. Foley is believed to be held in a detention center in Tripoli by Gadhafi forces with three other journalists. To learn more click here and don’t forget to tune in tonight @ 7p ET.
Every day we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation inside and outside Washington.
RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:
– Gas prices are up over $4.00 a gallon and domestic oil production is down 13% under Obama.
– More Americans now get money out of the federal Treasury than pay into the federal Treasury. This is the first time since the Great Depression.
– Barack Obama has still not answered two questions: 1. what does he want to cut and by how much and 2. if the top 5% already pay 60% of all income into the federal Treasury, exactly how much more would he consider fair?
Senior Editor of MarioWire.com Mario Solis-Marich:
– Student Detention: The Department of Homeland Security readies to deport leading student activist and administration critic Prerna Lal, obviously a higher administration priority than having DOJ go after the banksters.
– Math Class: The conservative movie and box office loser “Atlas Shrugged” has created a clash between conservatives and the real marketplace, but based on mythological conservative economic double count, the cash loser is really a profit maker if you look at the averages!
– Enrollment Forms: Former Social Security beneficiary Paul Ryan decides that now is the time to cut the safety net for future generations, making some Americans believe that we should have cut it even earlier, before it brought us Paul Ryan!
Editor’s Note: The blog is a place for a freewheeling exchange of ideas and opinions. CNN does not endorse anything said by its contributors