The eastern Mediterranean, off the Syrian coast, presently is saturated with U.S. and Russian warships. The United States has deployed the destroyers USS Stout, Mahan, Ramage, Barry and Gravely, each armed with large numbers of Tomahawk land-attack missiles. The Russian navy announced that it has seven warships in the eastern Mediterranean and that it is sending three more warships—the cruiser Moskva, the destroyer Smetlivy, and the assault ship Nikolai Filchenkov. All of those warships are sailing relatively close to the Syrian civil war’s combat zone. Read More
The Navy has suspended the search for two crewmembers lost following the crash of a MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter on Sunday in the Red Sea, according to a Monday release from U.S. 5th Fleet.
“Navy officials have concluded that given the time elapsed since the incident, aircrew survivability was extremely unlikely,” according to the statement. “The location of the crash site is known, and an extensive area has been searched multiple times by various ships and aircraft.” Read More
After a major chemical attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, Syria, the United States and many of its allies struggled to find a response. Attempting to enforce its “red line”, America sought to conduct a series of limited strikes against the Syrian regime to deter future chemical warfare and degrade its capability to conduct it.
Yet steadfast allies such as Britain balked at attack, while the domestic outcry at home force the administration of President Barack Obama into requesting a vote on an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF)—which stood little chance of passing in Congress. Read More
It is starting to feel like America’s reluctance to get involved in Syria is an echo of the Vietnam War. One of the more interesting things to emerge from the recent national debate over whether America should involve itself in the Syrian civil war is the degree of war fatigue being expressed by the majority of Americans. That anti-war sentiment is kinder and gentler than the angry protests of the 1960s and ’70s, but it stems from the same cultural roots. Read More
The past several weeks have been surreal for Russia-watchers as the benighted country they follow has enjoyed more media exposure than at almost any other time over the past 20 years. The Russians, often caricatured in the American media as blundering, blustering, and ignorant bullies, have been running diplomatic circles around a disinterested and discombobulated Obama administration. Through skill, persistence, and a fair amount of good luck, Sergei Lavrov and Vladimir Putin managed to get the United States to sign on to a deal that would (with an absolutely enormous “if” around the willingness of the Syrian government to cooperate) peacefully take control of and eventually destroy the Assad regime’s store of chemical weapons. It’s been awhile since the Russians had a moment in the sun that was comparable. Read More
The following is the United Nation’s chemical weapons report on the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical weapons incident in Syria. From the report:
On the basis of the evidence obtained during our investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that, on 21 August 2013, chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale. Read More
The Department of Defense will leave four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and the Nimitz carrier strike group (CSG) in the Red Sea while the U.S. continues negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters on Thursday.
“We have no plans at this time to change our military posture in the Mediterranean,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters. “We’re prepared for any potential military contingencies that might involve Syria.” Read More
On Friday a group of Russian warships passed from the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. The group included destroyers, landing ships, frigates and supply ships from the Baltic, Black Sea, and Pacific fleets. It was scheduled to replace the current deployment of landing and surveillance ships already in the area, with Russian naval officials carefully noting that it was a “planned rotation” and not a “new” group. Read More
If the ongoing standoff between Syria and U.S. navy ships extends into October, the Navy may have to reshuffle funds to support the massed ships in the Eastern Mediterranean, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Thursday at an event at the American Enterprise Institute. Read More
From the Sept. 3, 2013 Congressional Research Service Report, Possible U.S. Intervention in Syria: Issues for Congress:
Members of Congress have expressed a broad range of views on the question of an immediate U.S. military response, with some expressing support for military action and others expressing opposition or questioning how a military response would advance U.S. policy goals in Syria and beyond. For more than two years, many Members of Congress have debated the potential rewards and unintended consequences of deeper U.S. involvement in Syria. Some Members have expressed concern that the Administration’s policy of providing support to the fractured Syrian opposition could empower anti-American extremist groups, while others have warned that failure to back moderate forces in Syria could prolong the conflict and create opportunity for extremists. Read More