When looking for insights and answers to the complex problem the United States confronts in Syria, there is no shortage of examples of punitive military operations against bad actors from which to draw lessons. In the past 30 years the United States and its allies have launched punitive airstrikes against, to name a few: Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan and Afghanistan. Clearly the “measured military response” is a favored approach for American leaders when dealing with rogue actors. What is interesting this time around is the unprecedented public debate about whether or not such tactical measures actually work. Read More
The guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72) has left the Eastern Mediterranean en route to its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., according to several press reports.
Mahan’s departure leaves four destroyers left to undertake an anticipated limited strike on Syria.
The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68), its escort of three Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers and one Ticonderoga guided missile cruiser have been tasked to the Red Sea ahead of an expected U.S. strike on Syria, several news services reported on Monday. Read More
Even after shocking details emerged about Bashar al-Assad’s likely use of chemical weapons against his opponents in Syria, public opinion in the United States is decidedly unenthusiastic about a potential intervention. In opinion polls, large majorities say they want nothing to do with the worsening situation in Syria and express no desire to help the anti-Assad opposition. There is, however, a significant popular-elite split: While the populace as a whole is firmly against an intervention, foreign-policy elites are overwhelmingly in favor. Read More
The news headlines indicate that a military strike against Syria is imminent. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on MSNBC on Monday that he anticipates, “a surgical, proportional strike against the Assad regime for what they have done.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) worried about diminishing American credibility, “if the United States stands by and doesn’t take very serious action.” Read More
The Navy is extending a deployment of an Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer in the Eastern Mediterranean amidst a United Nation’s inspection into allegations that the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in the conflict, according to several press reports. Read More
From the Aug. 20, 2013 Congressional Research Service report, Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress. This is an update of a July 1, 2013 report.
The use or loss of control of chemical weapons stocks in Syria could have unpredictable consequences for the Syrian population and neighboring countries as well as U.S. allies and forces in the region. Congress may wish to assess the Administration’s plans to respond to possible scenarios involving the use, change of hands, or loss of control of Syrian chemical weapons. Read More
Last week Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined American military options in Syria, in response to a threatened hold on his reconfirmation by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a letter signed by McCain and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Both senators are proponents of American intervention in Syria, and both are frustrated by what they believe is the administration’s slow and limited decision to intervene in Syria’s conflict. The traditions of American civil-military relations make uniformed discussions of military options in politically charged issues—especially in a public forum—a delicate issue. Nevertheless, in order to secure a second term as JCS chairman, and in response to a formal request, Dempsey presented an unclassified assessment of five options for American military involvement in Syria. Read More
How far the United States should go in supporting the Syrian opposition, and just what the role of the Chairman (and Vice Chairman) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in formulating that strategy should be, dominated the sometimes testy re-confirmation hearing of Gen. Martin Dempsey and Adm. James Winnefeld on 18 July.
Dempsey’s re-confirmation is not assured. A key member of the panel—Arizona Republican John McCain—was so upset by Dempsey’s answers on Syria that he threatened to put a hold on the nomination. The chairman of the committee offered a possible compromise to get the nomination for a second Dempsey term back on track. Winnefeld did not come under that kind of scrutiny. Read More