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The options are being prepared in the event President Barack Obama were to call for them. Two senior administration officials who spoke about the review to CNN emphasized that U.S. policy for now remains the use of non-military options.
The focus on diplomatic options was underscored by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
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It would be Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, who would provide details on what U.S. military assets are available, what missions they could perform if asked, and what risks U.S. forces might face.
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The two officials were not willing to be identified because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Typically those types of options are held by the Pentagon as very preliminary plans and not even forwarded to the White House unless asked for. If asked, plans are then fleshed out with specific units to support them.
In this type of analysis being done, the military would typically look at all options ranging from humanitarian relief, to support for opposition groups, as well as outright military strikes, although that is an unlikely option, both officials said.
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The military’s work to analyze potential military options for Syria has been quietly going on for several weeks, two administration officials confirm to CNN. The bulk of the analysis is being done by staff of General Mattis, who would be the senior commander if the President were to order any action.
Mattis’ analysis is being shared with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who would then present options to the White House, if it came to that.
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Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services committee, told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. should consider "all options including arming the opposition."
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"We never take anything off the table. The president does (or) doesn't. However, as the president himself made absolutely clear and as the secretary has continued to say, we don't think more arms into Syria is the answer," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
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