Pentagon steps up planning for potential military intervention in Syria
A Syrian rebel distributes bullets to comrades in the Karm al-Jabal district of the northern city of Aleppo.
April 29th, 2013
03:04 PM ET

Pentagon steps up planning for potential military intervention in Syria

By Barbara Starr

The Pentagon has in recent days stepped up planning for potential military intervention in the Syrian civil war, specifically because of growing evidence the regime may have used chemical weapons, CNN has learned.

"There is intensified planning in the works as more precise information comes in on the Syrian regime's potential use of chemical weapons and the body of evidence grows," a senior administration official said.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the effort, declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

If President Barack Obama were to order action, it could involve thousands of U.S. troops. But all of the options face serious military challenges.

The official said it's not likely to involve troops on the ground in Syria. Two other officials say the most likely options would be using cruise missiles based at sea and fighter jets to try to destroy chemical sites or the headquarters of Syrian military elements linked to them.

But even that type of option has grown increasingly complex in recent weeks as the Syrian regime has moved chemical stockpiles around the country.

"We have to now assume they are going to continue to do so," the official said, noting that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has already told Congress the military could not secure the entire chemical stockpile because it does not know where it's all located.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior civilian officials at the Pentagon have sought updated military options in the last few weeks as suspicions and intelligence grew that the Syrian regime had used sarin gas on its own people.

The official said Obama so far has not asked for those options, but the Pentagon was moving ahead to be prepared.

"As the situation in Syria becomes more grave and as we are increasingly concerned about chemical weapons use in Syria, it's the responsibility of the U.S. military to prepare detailed options," the official said.

Hagel told reporters on Monday that he would not speculate any options regarding Syria.

The updated planning is separate from recent discussions with Congress several weeks ago about options for Syria, the official said.

There are also specific new discussions with Israel, Turkey and Jordan about what the official called the "realities of the conflict."

These discussions center around what to do if chemical weapons become a risk to their populations and also what immediate actions would have to be taken if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to suddenly fall.

The new planning, he said, is an effort to "align" military capabilities with various options and scenarios that could likely emerge.

But he also emphasized it also involves looking at more direct U.S. military involvement in providing humanitarian relief for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees now in Jordan and Turkey.

A previously announced deployment of some personnel from the First Armored Division headquarters to Jordan is part of this stepped up planning effort.

soundoff (261 Responses)
  1. obat kanker payudara

    Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my website thus i got here to return the prefer?.I'm attempting to find issues to improve my web site!I suppose its adequate to use some of your ideas!!

    May 16, 2013 at 4:44 am | Reply
  2. Siwoo

    A customer does not need to be willing to do what a service provider does in order to expect that service provider to provide the service to the customer. That would defeat the purpose of specialization in a specialized economy and society. The argument that we can't support wars we wouldn't fight in ourselves is as invalid as 2+2=5, so it should really stop being brought up, I mean, really, please, I beg you, stop it already, you're killiing me.

    May 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Cynthia

      A war is not a customer-client transaction. The only customer-client transaction are weapon sales and mercenaries. Otherwise, it is aggressor and victims, tyrants and rebels. There is no equating of the dynamics of supply-demand or market-side perspectives to war. To do so would be evil and opportunistic.

      May 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  3. Siwoo

    You're damned if you care about other people, and you're damned if you don't. You just can't win.

    May 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  4. Maskara

    Asaad should be stopped at all cost. Whoevever does it is not an issue but the blood sucking vampire has to be stopped... women and children are dying man.

    May 1, 2013 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • giggig

      And even if it in fact is so,that Assad ,slauthers(any method !) them all, it still is not our problem, We stood away 1956 in Budapest, we stood away 1968 in Praha,1968 in N.Korea (USS Pueblo captured, 1975 in Cambodia ,1995 again1999 in Chechenia . We got computerprograms nowadays ,that can best calculate an outcome. Taking into account all parameters,Sarin,Chlorine,any factors , here we need to stay out,leave Amadinajacket's Oil to China,Port of Damascus to Mr Putin. There are instances ,it is absolutely resolute , to keep off.

      May 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Reply
    • giggig

      Children,women,men dying ...the ultimate alternative in case of US intervention is Our Men (military professionals) dying and getting crippled. This time around,we need to follow the mental footsteps of Mr Putin ...and also the deceased Mr Milosevic.They both are throughly familiar with the dumming "islam" what it does to them and what it could do to us.

      May 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  5. Call me Bwana

    The US should stay out of this one. Let Arabs fix Arab problems, for once. If they insist in killing each other, it is their prerogative and not our business. While the situation is lamentable, it is entirely of their doing.

    May 1, 2013 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • JH

      Yeah, great idea. Let all the chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists and sold on the market eventually getting smuggled and set off in Europe and the US. Have to think bigger picture.

      May 1, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
  6. jay

    US should not intervene in Syria – We need not get in the middle of another war. If we do not intervene the rebels would start attacking US saying that we did nothing; If we do, we would be helping the Islamist who hate US and will attack US anyways. Either way we lose.

    May 1, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
    • giggig

      yes probably so. And even if it in fact is so,that Assad ,slauthers(any method !) them all, it still is not our problem, We stud away 1956 in Budapest, we stud away 1968 in Praha,1968 in N.Korea (USS Pueblo captured, 1975 in Cambodia ,1995 in Chechenia . We got computerprograms nowadays ,that can best calculate an outcome. Taking into account all parameters,Sarin,Chlorine,any factors , here we need to stay out,leave Amadinajacket's Oil to China,Port of Damascus to Mr Putin.

      May 1, 2013 at 7:53 am | Reply
      • Call me Bwana

        Stud? It should be stood! Have you considered taking a refresher English 101 course?

        May 1, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  7. Chukwuma Nwachukwu

    US please intervene quickly and remove Assad an stop this damn bloodshed. The people of Syria needs some respite. Their spirit has been broken by Bashaar and his blood sucking demons!

    May 1, 2013 at 7:12 am | Reply
    • Ed

      Sorry – not our problem and definitely not until every military age child of every member of congress and congressman of military age who never served enlist. And include Mittens boys! Bottom line – this is Syria's problem not ours

      May 1, 2013 at 8:22 am | Reply
      • Rupesh charl

        Yeah, great idea for Turnkey Home.

        May 1, 2013 at 10:02 am |
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