There is a report in Le Figaro that French and UK forces are deploying boots on the ground and attack helicopters to Libya. Likely this has been going on for a while but this is the nearest thing to a revelation that we have seen.
Boots on the ground are precious and NATO likely does not want to have them revealed by firing weapons at night. They likely have been designating target by lasers for the jets but the close-in work is better done by helicopters flying low and slow. This combination will work well in the desert where Gaddafi’s forces are widely dispersed and only occasionally active. Boots on the ground can watch them for long periods of time and direct fire as needed. This will “teach” Gaddafi’s forces to remain passive, saving lives.
Because the helicopters are low, they will likely be used at night when they can fire and disappear below the horizon easily. During the daytime the jets can operate more or less with impunity for targets out in the open. Helicopters can also set down to conserve fuel to prolong tours. NATO may have secured bases inland.
This move should result in more effective air-power and could end hostilities sooner, saving many lives. Gaddafi is running out of options with the Tunisians standing up to him, the navy being decimated, the airforce being decimated and grounded and now closer air-support for the people of Libya. Now that the siege of Misrata has been lifted, I expect the same thing will happen all along the coast especially at Brega. With Gaddafi’s forces pinned, the opposition can close on them or detour around them. Free Libya should be able to consolidate or expand in territory.
The strategy most likely to end the situation quickly is for the opposition to move on Tripoli. That would cause Gaddafi to recall his forces and expose them. A breakout from Misrata is the fastest way to make that happen. I expect more men and equipment to sail for Misrata. Tripoli is only 211 km from Misrata according to Google.