Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, head of Royal Navy
Source: Press TV
British Prime Minister David Cameron has rapped the head of the Royal Navy after he raised doubts over the UK's ability to sustain a lengthy war in Libya.
Cameron had become angered by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope's remarks that the government would have to make "challenging decisions" on force levels if the mission lasted more than six months.
The Prime Minister told MPs at the Commons that Admiral Stanhope, the First Sea Lord, has "agreed that we can sustain this mission as long as we need to."
He said it was vital for the UK to send out a consistent message, saying that "time is on our side."
A senior Whitehall source confirmed that the Navy chief was called in to explain his remarks and made clear he was given a dressing-down. "I think you can assume that there was no coffee or biscuits," said the source.
"We are doing the right thing and I want one simple message to go out from every part of this government, and indeed every part of this House of Commons, and that is that time is on our side. We have got NATO, we have got the United Nations, we have got the Arab League, we have right on our side. The pressure is building, militarily, diplomatically and politically and time is running out for Gaddafi," boasted Cameron.
Admiral Stanhope told journalists on Monday that the UK was "comfortable" with the present NATO mission, which was extended earlier this month by 90 days, to the end of September.
But, "Beyond that, we might have to request the government to make some challenging decisions about priorities. If we do it longer than six months we will have to reprioritize forces," he added.