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.

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  85. Siwoo

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    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.

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  87. 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
  88. 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
  89. 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 |
  90. 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

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  91. Adel

    I think the world should stand againest the agressive irresponsible acts of USA. They think they can attack whome ever they want. Just in 20 years they invaded three muslim countries and they are planing to invade the fourth. It makes no difference if the invasion is areal or ground offence as either way wod kill and destroy. PLEASE CHINA PLEASE RUSSIA HELP PROTECT POORLY ARMED COUNTRIES LIKE SYRIA FROM RUTHKESS AMERICAN INVASION

    May 1, 2013 at 6:42 am | Reply
  92. Rodger Delberto

    If the US entervine in Syria they are obviously going 2 suffer a terrible blow from Russia,Iran n'China

    May 1, 2013 at 4:51 am | Reply
  93. Harry

    Invade now! Call the Chinese and ask them if our credit's good enough to do another ten year war.

    May 1, 2013 at 4:04 am | Reply
  94. Joe Somebody

    I wouldn't recommend a U.S. military intervention because it just would make things worse. You already have every loyalist anticipating U.S. intervention as well as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea anticipating one. It'd be a disaster wrapped in a catastrophe. History shows foreign interventions do very little to stop violence. The situation is really a power struggle between regional powers, obviously shia-sunni relations. No more.

    How about humans do something better like explore the universe and make preparation to do so. We're going to be grappling with ethnic relations for years and years if war with each other doesn't cease.

    Al-Assad should step down respect the people of his own country and at least give peace a chance so the legendary country of Syria isn't completely ruined.

    All dictators of the world should know freedom is the first choice of their people. When it's being fought for it's going to be ugly.

    May 1, 2013 at 3:19 am | Reply
    • giggig

      probably so. And even if it in fact is so,that Assad ,slauthers(any method , incl. Sarin !) 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 with Jelzin and later again Putin . NOW we stay out,let 's get the blood on the hand of Mr Putin,rather than us.

      May 1, 2013 at 7:58 am | Reply
  95. warpropaganda

    Can you say war propaganda? CNN has once again jumped on the war propaganda train to help lead the American people off a cliff. Well done CNN. Well done supporting murder.

    May 1, 2013 at 1:01 am | Reply
  96. Bruce Rubin

    Armageddon aproaches

    April 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
    • giggig

      no,not ,if we use our head(s).

      May 1, 2013 at 12:35 am | Reply
  97. Matt

    I feel like the US believes they are the world police, every problem must be investigated and handled by them and only them.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Reply
    • Hao

      Well, that's actually is what you see from the appearance. The real purpose is use helping others as an excuse to expand its political influence and eliminate possible opponents(whoever again US policy or dictatorship countries).

      May 1, 2013 at 12:46 am | Reply
  98. brown

    America will do what her Israeli master tells her to do.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      people keep blaming Israel, when Assad has already killed 100,000 Syrians to keep his throne, more than 10 fold the entire Israeli Palestinian conflict altogether.

      April 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Reply
      • giggig

        100.000 Syrians, No ,the truth could be different eg.95000 intruders.iraianpilgrems,troublemakers . We do not know,he failed to secure borders between him(Assad) and IranIraq,Jordania,Lebanon. WE need to see the endgame of this, Obama is wise ,to back off from involvements, we also have Israel , who once said (about 11 month ago) an unarmed refugee flux is expected and they're prepared for it (maybe they refered to christians and atheists from Damascus only)

        April 30, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
      • mike

        The people who blame Israel do not know Truth. Satan and their own sin blind. Only Jesus can help them. Otherwise, they are hopeless.

        April 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
      • Assyrian

        You paid cnn troll

        April 30, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
      • Assyrian

        Wait until Iranians come for you. hehe

        May 1, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • giggig

      maybe visa versa .Anyway i am sure they are discussing things there on a daily basis.An UN mandate can go to Israel too !!!

      April 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  99. WOW

    This is crazy

    April 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
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