U.S. updates military options for Syria
Syrian rebel patrols in the city of Aleppo
April 11th, 2013
05:26 PM ET

U.S. updates military options for Syria

By Barbara Starr

Under pressure from Democrats and Republicans, the Joint Staff of the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command have updated potential military options for intervention in Syria that could see American forces - if ordered - doing everything from bombing Syrian airfields to flying large amounts of humanitarian aid to the region, a senior U.S. military official said.

The first public discussion of the updated options could come soon as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee next week.

The military official emphasized the options are for planning and there is no indication President Barack Obama is about to order any military action.

A senior administration official confirmed that the national security staff of the White House has been briefed on the updated planning, but emphasized that it does not differ from what already has been looked at by the administration.

"We've been saying for quite some time now, we are constantly reviewing every possible option that could help end the violence and accelerate a political transition," the administration official told CNN.

Officials have declined to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation.

CNN reported earlier this week that the White House had signed off on a new package of non-lethal aid for Syrian rebels fighting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to U.S. officials.

The aid is expected to include body armor, night vision goggles and other military equipment.

But such assistance falls far short of any direct U.S. military intervention.

In a March 21 letter, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and the panel's top Republican, John McCain of Arizona, asked Obama to consider "limited military options, that would require neither putting U.S. troops on the ground nor acting unilaterally."

The senators asked the White House to consider ways to "degrade the Assad regime's air power" and destroy SCUD missile batteries, using precision airstrikes.

According to the Pentagon official, one idea might be to use cruise missiles, which would keep U.S. pilots out of Syria airspace and would solve the problem of first bombing Syria's air defenses.

But the official noted aircraft and missile batteries are mobile, so it's unclear what air strikes could achieve. In addition, Syria already has turned to using its force of helicopter gunships.

The official made clear the U.S. military would be extremely cautious about sending any manned aircraft into Syrian airspace.

The United States has long said the Syrians have a massive network of air defense radars and missiles that would have to be largely destroyed by bombing before American pilots could safely fly over Syria.

Another option under review at the Pentagon is the use of military transport planes to carry additional large amounts of humanitarian assistance or nonlethal aid into neighboring countries.

Congressional calls for establishing a safe zone for displaced Syrians inside the country is also problematic, the official said.

While it may sound beneficial, the major problem is "how do you then protect it and keep Assad's forces from coming in? It gets you back to the same problem of the air defenses." The senators called for Patriot missiles in Turkey to be used in an offensive fashion to protect a safe zone in Syria, but the official said it wasn't clear how that could be done.

With regard to the idea of a no-fly zone using Patriots based in Turkey, they are a "defensive system that would have very little impact on Syrian air power when based outside the country. This would be no easy fix," the administration official said.

The military official said that overall, longstanding challenges to U.S. military action remain, including the need for an international agreement from the United Nations or NATO to act, as well as the American view that any action should include other countries.

While the initial update of options in response to congressional concerns is complete, the military official said further updating is likely.

The number of any troops, equipment, and weapons as well as the risks are laid out in each case. However, if Obama were to issue an order on one of these options, the military would engage in additional planning and intelligence gathering in order to assign specific units.

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  4. Maximvs1

    Islam in ARABIC means SUBMISSION! It has long been the rule of these DICTATORS ( Khadafi of Libya, Assad Family of Syria, Hussein of Iraq, Bin Saud Family of Saudi Arabia) have suppressed their own people. Lots of you ignoramuses are putting the blame on USA, yet you disregard history of middle East and the Islamic rulers who rule with iron fist. You blame the USA , yet neglect the good things what the USA did like taking in millions of refugees from around the world including Muslim nations. Yet Saudi Arabia, , Iran, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia , Malaysia do not even accept any refugees. Typical LEFT WING IDIOTS who pin the blame on USA yet neglect what history of Arabs have done to their own people. Before you point the finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you!!! Typical FAR LEFT WING IDIOTS!!!

    April 17, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Reply
    • Majed Agha

      The word Islam is derived from the word "salema" ,meaning peace. Don't you feel stupid now?

      April 18, 2013 at 1:25 am | Reply
      • Guest

        I believe it has 4 "meanins" to it. Which one it is most reflective of I am not sure but both peace and submission are listed as meanins to the word.

        April 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • Josh

        There is no peace in Islam. Show me the money??????

        April 19, 2013 at 4:46 am |
    • DeWhit

      It obviously can't be considered a real conflict until we get some Americans fighting in the thick of it.

      Then the media shows the dead and maimed coming home and the politico's and hawks start trying to convince us again that the pagans and misguided are one small ocean away and coming for us.

      They will tell us that we are defending the righteous...once again.

      I believe in this country and have served this country under arms, but I'm starting to think that we may be more of the problem than the solution in many places.

      I don't profess to know all the in's and out's of world politics, but I do know that I leave the mean dog down the street alone, but will kill it dead if it comes in my yard or near my children. There will always be a mean dog down my street or a nearby street. I am not living or raising my children to go looking for mean dogs to kill. Another dog will always take it's place.

      Who decided that this country will settle the problems of the world ?
      Maybe this is our new answer to a declining middle class in this country.
      We don't manufacture enough any longer for a large group of Americans to make a decent blue collar living for many, but we have plenty of infantry slots open for those still young and impressionable from movie propaganda and computer gaming heroics.

      Forget my past political correctness and tight lipped faith. Screw the middle east and the rest of these two bit holes.

      Call me unpatriotic if you will, but we keep fighting the same fights and pulling out of one to go to another with no lesson learned. Maybe we aren't as smart as we think we are. Maybe we are shooting the wrong persons.

      The enemy is here and pulling strings to get more of us killed for nothing. Sometimes, not leading the way is not so bad.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:03 am | Reply
    • tommy

      Clean ur own but. u double standerd idiots.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:53 am | Reply
  5. kevin

    i'm tired of america getting involved and making commitments to peoples and countries for no tangible gain. saudi arabia and qatar are funding terrorist turkey is funding the muslim brotherhood and jordan is on its last leg, syrian surrounding countries should do everything they can to help and if the situation gets worse, here's a plan. Europe use your air force to deny assad air superiority, then a joint jordanian Turkish force should invade from the north and south simultaneously securing aleppo and damascus for the rebels. america can provide diplomatic cover saudi arabia and qatar can finance this endeavor, but i doubt that will happen because most of the world seems unable to act or make sacrifice for things they say they want without american dollars or blood being spilled

    April 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  6. FHTEX

    It will all be over soon. The rebel jihadists are sustaining 3000 deaths a month at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army and Air Force. In less than six months, they will no longer be capable of mounting any operations. Continuing to arm them will not change the outcome. It's time the U.S. and Turkey and the Gulf monarchies threw in the towel!

    April 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      Assad has been saying it will be over in a few months for the past two years, while the FSA is advancing and gaining more territory, and is now controls over 60% of the land, including the oil field and main agricultural land in the east. But it will take some time and another 50000 to 100000 fatalities, before it is over and the Assad regime is crushed..

      April 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Reply
      • Gornets

        I thought that woman clintong and other US administration armchair generals have been saying Assad had only few weeks since all began but as we can see they have no clues how long they have themselves.

        April 18, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
  7. braindeadpolitiks

    we would be helping the very same people who were considered "terrorists" in Iraq and Afganistan. the very same people who were responsible for killing Americans. so compeletely backwards.

    April 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      The terrorists in Iraq were sent by the Assad regime (the AlQaeda types) ad by Iran (the Al-Sadr types) so don't get your facts mixed and turned upside down..

      April 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
      • Jarl

        You got that alittle confused. Assad (shia) has never supported al qaeda ( mostly sunni), because of former president Bush and some backroom deals, and his father fought the same people. If fact I have seen syrian border patrol fire on insurgents that fire on us and tried to get across the border. And by us supporting a group that has ties to terrorism (fact) is only going to cost us live in a few year.

        April 18, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  8. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015. ha ha ha

    April 12, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Maximvs1

      Yo are one typical IDIOT, John Smith. You blame America for all its ills, but neglect what America did to help Kuwait in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. And what happened to the Dayton Peace Accord? It was America who brokered the peace cause Muslims in former Yugoslavia were killing Muslims in former Yugoslavia. Even France and UK could not broker any peace in former Yugoslavia. The same goes with Syria and Libya, Muslim dictators are killing their own people. Islam is ARABIC means SUBMISSION! So stop blaming USA for its ills for you are one sided IDIOT!!!

      April 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  9. ping-gu

    i am aan American , but im not an idiot american,the Irak war was my country biggest mystake since the Vietnam war. Bush cheney rice rumsfelt and company should be in jail for many crimes including perjury and crimes against humanity

    April 12, 2013 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Thank you ping gu, I couldn't agree more. The fact that these people you mentioned above have nothing to fear from the I.C.C. shows just how fair life is not!!!

      April 12, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Maximvs1

      It was not a mistake to invade Iraq from the brutality of dictators like Sadam Hussein. I grew up from a country run by a dictator when I was 8 years old and remember the brutality by Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the Philippines with an Iron Fist and imposed Martial Law from 1972 till 1979. Same with Saddam Hussein of Iraq who murdered Kurds without regard of human life. Ask the Iraqi Kurds about what happened and you will be better educated out of your LEFT WING mentality! Was it wrong for the US to be involved in WW2 to rid Adolf Hitler of his brutality and the US lost over 300,000 US Armed Forces in WW2? Take your stupid left wing ideology and being stupid!!!

      April 18, 2013 at 1:17 am | Reply
  10. ping-gu


    April 12, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
  11. Neill

    Here we go again. Our politicians dragging us into another disastrous war!!!!!

    Giving medical supplies to help the Syrian civilians yes! But military intervention of the side of these Islamist extremists No!!! How can our politicians give weapons to the Islamist rebels who are linked to the same people we are fighting in Afghanistan? These weapons could be used against our own troops a few years down the line. If our politicians want to get involved in this war they can go off and fight but leave the US out of this one please.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • Hiding in Plain Sight

      Make absolutely NO mistake about it – the real winner in this war will be al qaeda, whether we "noble" liberators of the US get further involved nor not. You can't change the ocean tide with a pail and shovel. What the morons in Washington don't get about this I'll never know.
      Our intervention will have NO benefit for Syria, and only NEGATIVE effects for us. Enough said.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
  12. Skorpio

    Everywhere and everything related to Islam is about hate, violence, discrimination, destruction, war, coercion, division, punishments, instigation, incitement, murders, intimidation, threats, imposition, mutilations, vengeance, beheadings, and threats. Evidently, this is a satanic cult with his diabolic prophet Mohammed as the role model.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:13 am | Reply
    • Pusiyo

      that is false,you do not know what islam is,and judging from what you wrote,you either watch too many movies or you just interpret islam in what al qaeda and islamists show you in videos and wars they make.
      islam,is actually the most tolerant,equal and clear religion anywhere on earth. any question you have is answered in the quran. on the other hand you have all those you mentioned above in much higher levels in atheistic populations in europe and the US,torture is practiced in prisons without public knowledge,governments spy on phones and internet,GPS locations revealed,high taxes,austerity,wars on innocent people for regime changes,supporting terrorism whilst fighting it somewhere else..etc. no,the evil you see is you're countries creations through al qaeda and the hate for the west

      April 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      Obviously you are a very hateful Islamphobic sick person, as evidenced by your hateful false comment.. You should get therapy.. I wish you get sane soon..

      April 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  13. StanCalif

    America is NOT your saviour! You must save yourselves. Start with stopping your hatred for your own countrymen! We went into Iraq, bad move! We got rid of Saddam, this solved nothing! Iraqis continue to kill each other, what was gained for anyone? NOTHING!

    April 12, 2013 at 8:10 am | Reply
  14. Nawaf

    Please America do something! Syrian people are suffering from both Syrian government and some Syrian extremist 🙁 what is going on there is sad! i really hope that U.S. have a military intervention in Syria to end this mess. Please U.S.! We are really waiting for your action, the whole world is waiting for your action!

    April 12, 2013 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Well sorry all out of "give a F@#*" ask someone else to bail you out we have done too much in that part of the world already.

      April 12, 2013 at 5:05 am | Reply
      • StanCalif

        Agree! We (the USA) have been there, done that! What was accomplished? NOTHING! We got rid of Saddam in Iraq for you, yet you continue to kill each other! What's the point? If we come to "save you", you will turn on us and just go back to killing each other again! No more! You need to solve your own problems, which seem to have no answer! You cannot be "saved", you must save yourselves!

        April 12, 2013 at 8:00 am |
      • Joe

        If I remember right there is a Russian navel base there and thats one of the biggest reasons we are not there now.There are to many factions over there to help.I feel for the common people dont get me wrong.

        April 14, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • George Patton-2

      Good grief Nawaf, aren't you kind of ashamed to post that idiotic statement above or are you trying to be funny? Either way, we have no right to be in Syria anymore than we did in Vietnam!!!

      April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  15. Hiding in Plain SIght

    "Under pressure from Democrats and Republicans, the Joint Staff of the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command have updated potential military options for intervention in Syria that could see American forces – if ordered – doing everything from bombing Syrian airfields to flying large amounts of humanitarian aid to the region, a senior U.S. military official said."
    Oh look, yet another stupid Middle Eastern War we'll be sucked into where we'll help the NEXT bunch of Islamofascist thugs that will in turn kill Americans a few years down the line. Courtesy of our government. Now let me put on my surprised face.
    You can't make this crap up.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  16. Xi Gua

    Hi Ho, Let's Go!

    April 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  17. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    April 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Reply
    • jay

      your name is not john smith its probably some shiite name like ali, if america is the root of terror why are there so many of u guys living in the usa?? instead of thanking the us for all the help and for allowing u muslims to live in the usa, you guys bash the usa instead. people like you deserve to to die and have a leader like assad. where you guys have no electricity no cell phones no bread no water.. people like you make other arabs look bad.

      April 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Reply
      • Pusiyo

        Ofc america is the root of all terror,i mean who the hell brought misery on the world other than the US?
        killing more than 10 million people in half a century is not a serious crime apparently,neither is invanding other lands,other than funding the organisations it now fights,like al qaeda and taliban and now rebels in syria and mali. the US is a cancer for our world,Assad actually gave syrians all they needed,and more. Syria is better than any arab country in the middle east,and it is targeted because of its anti US anti Israel policy(do take KSA as example of a US puppet) and more is to be said,but the american people are mostly brainwashed such as yourself,being robbed and you're money given to rebels who already spit in america's name

        April 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Murf

      towel head

      April 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • wjm

      So if you feel that way about America it really means that your an enemy of the United States, as an enemy of the U.S.A. I hope you and anybody who shares your views find a nice hole to die in, don't worry about anybody filling the hole there be more to join you in there, or better yet get to the coast and swim to the bottom of the ocean to join your buddy Bin goin to feed the fishes Laden.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:21 am | Reply
      • George Patton-2

        Please wjm, John above is right about us. For one thing, the C.I.A. itself is the biggest terrorism organization that ever existed in the annals of mankind seeing what they did in places like Chile and Iran. Look at what we did in Vietnam and do you remember the bombing of the Amriya air raid shelter in Baghdad on Feb. 13, 1991? I do!!!

        April 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

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