Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada will take over command of the NATO mission in Libya, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday.
NATO agreed Thursday to assume responsibility for a no-fly zone over Libya, part of a UN-backed mission to protect civilians from forces loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Bouchard has been designated to lead NATO's military campaign in Libya, MacKay told a briefing in Ottawa, noting the full scope of the NATO mission is still evolving.
MacKay said he expected NATO to make the formal announcement shortly. He described Bouchard as a "formidable leader, with tremendous character and ability."
His most recent job was deputy commander of NORAD, reporting to a U.S. general.
Bouchard, a native of Chicoutimi, Que., studied at the University of Manitoba and joined the Armed Forces in 1974, graduating in 1976 as a helicopter pilot. Among his many postings, he once served with the U.S. army at Fort Hood, Texas.
Canada has committed six CF-18s to the Libya operation, and a seventh is in the area as a backup. Two CP-140 Aurora patrol planes sent to help with the mission have arrived in Italy, MacKay said from Ottawa.
In the last 24 hours, two Canadian jets successfully targeted military sites near the besieged coastal city of Misrata, MacKay said.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Defence Secretary Robert Gates have both said that American command of the operations would last only a few days.
U.S. officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached a preliminary agreement on Thursday with her counterparts from Turkey, France and Britain. But Turkey raised last-minute objections, the Washington Post reported.