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US Military Leaders Lay Out Goals for Syria Attack

US Military Leaders Lay Out Goals for Syria Attacki
September 05, 2013 1:00 PM
With destroyers and other assets positioned to strike Syria, U.S. military leaders have laid out their goals if there is an attack. But as VOA Pentagon Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, officials are weighing the scenarios that could follow the first shot.
US Military Leaders Lay Out Goals for Syria Attack
Luis Ramirez
With destroyers and other assets positioned to strike Syria, U.S. military leaders have laid out their goals if there is an attack.  Officials are weighing the scenarios that could follow the first shot. 

The U.S. aim is to weaken Syria's defenses enough to eventually bring about the negotiated departure of Bashar al-Assad.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators the proportionate and limited strike that he would be in charge of would be a first step.

“To deter, that is to say change the regime’s calculus about thee use of chemical weapons, and degrade his ability to do so,” he said. 

To do that, the U.S. has Tomahawk missiles ready to hit Syrian government targets.  About 40 of the missiles are aboard each of four destroyers that are deployed to the eastern Mediterranean. 

U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
​The U.S. has doubled the number of vessels in the region. The Nimitz aircraft carrier group is nearby in the Red Sea, ready to be called into action.

The administration rules out wider action for now.  But observers say, once the United States fires the first missile, Washington becomes a participant in Syria's civil war, and a promise to stay out of the conflict becomes difficult to keep.

“Right now we are denying that we want to overthrow the regime, but the fact is when you are bombing targets, government targets in Syria, and there are rebels trying to overthrow the government, you are, whether you say it or not, trying to overthrow the government. But you're only doing it a little bit,” said Cato analyst Benjamin Friedman.

If Syria's chemical weapons were to fall into the hands of militants or if there were complete chaos, Secretary of State John Kerry told Senators he would want the president to have the option of putting U.S. troops on the ground, but he added, quickly, that was only a hypothetical statement.

A strike could last a few hours or a few days, but Pentagon planners are ready for possible wider consequences. 

U.S. forces have little to expect in terms of a response from Syria's comparatively weak military.  They would watch for a possible retaliation by Iran-backed Hezbollah and other militant groups that could launch attacks against Israel and other U.S. allies in the region.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 05, 2013 10:34 AM
Analysis like this seek to scare those who have not been to or seen a real battlefield before. The real trouble is expected to come from Russia, but Mr. Putin appears prepared to give up Syria - he must have been convinced that Assad was responsible for the gas attack. Advice to Israel will be, "don't strike back if attacked". Which is a very dangerous thing to say. Because surely both Hamas and Hezbollah will send tentative strikes at Israel, and if no action follows in retaliation, they will step it up, which must provoke a response from Israel to deter further attempts unless it wants to be a scapegoat.

Syria must not be left in the hands of the so-called Syrian Rebels now featuring a conglomeration of terrorist networks after weakening Assad's forces. Surely Assad regime cannot recover from the strikes, hence there are rebels waiting to take over. But the rebels are not good and it will be suicidal to abandon Syria to them. That only represents giving teeth to al qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas and all other terrorist groups in the world whose goal has been to achieve the objective of the resistance - which is what Iran (now joined by Qatar) spends its annual national budgets on terrorists to achieve.
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 05, 2013 3:27 PM
Of course Putin knows assad is guilty the best thing Putin could do is side with the west so the people of Syria MAY later accept their navy back into their country. Right now people in Syria are mad at Putin for allowing assad and arming assad to drop bombs in civilian areas. Putin has been feeding mr assad, and mr assad has been feeding the country bombardments in civilian areas. Every city/town/village has been partially or in some cases fully destroyed. Every city has lost loved ones from assads bombing runs. Assad has only gained hatred, you don't win votes from your people by bombing their civilian areas. You earn a nomination for crimes against humanity.

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