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Joint Chiefs of Staff head lays out risks of Syrian action

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In a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, warned that U.S. military action in Syria would cost “in the billions” and would require “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers.”

In the July 23 letter, addressed to committee chair Sen. Carl Levin, Dempsey detailed the costs and logistics of two courses of action the U.S. might take to oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad.

An indirect effort to train opposition forces, he wrote, would involve sending hundreds or thousands of forces and cost around half a billion dollars.

A direct course of action, Dempsey wrote, would be efficient only if a large force of “enablers” as well as air and sea craft were deployed, costing “in the billions.”

In response to Republican demands that the U.S. enforce no-fly zones over certain areas in Syria in a bid to prevent Assad’s forces from bombing densely populated rebel-controlled areas, Dempsey estimated the move would cost the U.S. around a billion dollars a month.

That also would be the cost of forming a U.S.-protected refugee area, which would be manned and guarded by hundreds of U.S. troops.

Despite his reservations, Dempsey said, “All of these options would likely further the narrow military objective of helping the opposition and placing more pressure on the regime.”

He nonetheless warned, “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

Any military intervention or use of force “is no less than an act of war,” Dempsey said, adding that the U.S. “could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.” —



Posted by Jack Kessler
07/29/2013  at  10:00 PM

General Dempsey is talking about military trainers.  Trainers inevitably become adviser and get drawn into “advising” on the battlefield.  That is how a few thousand American advisers to the South Vietnamese forces in 1963 grew to an American field army of half a million in 1968. 

But that was fifty years ago.  Now advisers and trainers can participate electronically with drones and aerial reconnaissance.  In Kosovo in 1998-9 US air and naval forces won a resounding victory over Serbia without landing a single soldier in the country.  Kosovo should be the model of all future US wars including Syria.

Send arms, send money, send drones, send political support, send naval artillery barrages, send attack aircraft, but send no soldiers.

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