The U.S. will move to the back seat in the coalition-driven military action in Libya within the next couple days, President Obama said on Monday.
"Obviously our miltary is very stretched," Obama said from Santiago, where he is on a Latin American tour through Wednesday. He said he is preparing to shift leadership of the international mission in Libya to the United States' allies.
"We anticipate this transition to take place in a matter of days, not a matter of weeks," he said.
Obama reiterated that U.S. military action in Libya is not aimed at toppling Gadhafi.
"Our military action is in support of an international mandate from the [United Nations] Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Col. Gadhafi to his people," he said.
The president authorized the U.S. to launch missiles at Gadhafi's air-defense systems on Saturday to enable American allies to enforce a no-fly zone over the country. Senior adminsitration officials said the strikes have been "very effective."
Distinguishing the purpose of airstrikes from his long-term policy in Libya, Obama said, "I also have stated that it is U.S. policy that Gadhafi needs to go."
Obama said he is reviewing other actions — outside of the Secuirty Council resolution — that could ultimately squeeze Gadhafi out of power.