Two weeks after a dark-of-night barrage of mostly U.S. missiles and bombs opened the international air assault on Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, the American combat role is ending, the rag-tag rebels are reeling and the Pentagon is betting its European allies can finish the job.
Gadhafi is still standing, with a few uncertain signs that his inner circle could crack. The Obama administration is hoping that if Gadhafi's government doesn't implode soon, a relentless campaign of airstrikes on his tanks, air defenses and most trusted army units will at least weaken his ability to survive a renewed uprising by a disjointed opposition. The revels initially rattled Gadhafi but in recent days have given up most of their gains.
So the mission remains incomplete, but the U.S. is following through on a pledge to shift the main combat burden to Britain, France and other NATO allies.
Starting Sunday, no U.S. combat aircraft are to fly strike missions in Libya. Also falling silent on Sunday will be the initial workhorses of the military campaign: U.S. Navy destroyers and submarines that launched Tomahawk cruise missiles from the positions in the Mediterranean Sea.
The planes and naval vessels will be on standby in case NATO commanders decide their own forces cannot handle the mission on their own. Combat air missions will continue to be flown by Britain, France and other NATO member countries.
More Libya mission: US eases off, Gadhafi holds on