Dempsey Reluctantly Details Syria Options

Dempsey Reluctantly Details Syria Options

The U.S. military’s top officer gave lawmakers options for intervening in the civil war in Syria days after Sen. John McCain threatened to block his reconfirmation over the issue.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. military stands ready to train, advise and assist forces opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. could also launch strikes against the regime, establish a no-fly zone over the country, create areas to protect neighboring countries such as Turkey, and take control of chemical weapons, according to a July 19 letter Dempsey wrote in response to a request from Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and McCain, R-Ariz.

“It offers my independent judgment with as much openness as this classification allows,” Dempsey wrote of his assessment. “You deserve my best military advice on how military force could be used in order to decide whether it should be used.”

After a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, McCain said he intended to put a hold on Dempsey’s nomination to another two-year term after the general refused to provide his personal opinion on what role the U.S. play in Syria.

More than 100,000 people have died in the two-year-old uprising against al-Assad, according to a June estimate from the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the death toll through a network of activists in the country.

In the letter, Dempsey repeated his reasons for declining to provide his recommendation, saying it’s not his call to make.

“Deliberations are ongoing within our government over the further role of the United States in this complex sectarian war,” he wrote. “The decision over whether to introduce military force is a political one that our nation entrusts to its civilian leaders.”

Still, Dempsey offered more information about what a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria might look like — and cost.

The U.S. could spend $500 million a year deploying “several hundred to several thousand troops” to train and advise opposition forces, and to provide them with intelligence and logistics support, Dempsey wrote.

The military could spend “billions” of dollars sending “hundreds” of aircraft, ships, submarines and other assets to launch strikes against the regime’s air defense, air, ground, missile, naval forces, military facilities and command nodes, according to the general.

Establishing a no-fly zone — a move McCain backs — would involve “hundreds” of ground– and sea-based aircraft and may cost as much as $1 billion a month to take out the regime’s aircraft, air-defenses, oil fields and other infrastructure, Dempsey wrote.

Thousands of U.S. troops would be needed to create and defend so-called buffer zones to protect neighboring countries such as Turkey and Jordan in an operation that would also require a limited no-fly zone and probably cost about $1 billion a month, according to Dempsey.

Thousands more special operations forces and ground forces would be required to assault and secure chemical weapons sites in a move that may cost more than $1 billion a month, the general wrote.

Classified version of these options have already been presented to the White House’s National Security Council for consideration by President Barack Obama and in several briefings to lawmakers, including one recently made by Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Dempsey.

Like he did during last week’s hearing, Dempsey hinted at the challenges involved in the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and cautioned that the use of force in Syria may similarly bring unintended consequences.

“We have learned from the past 10 years … that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state,” he wrote. “Should the regime’s institutions collapse in the absence of a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.”

Dempsey also said that automatic budget cuts known as sequestration will complicate a U.S.-led intervention in the conflict.

“Some options may not be feasible in time or cost without compromising our security elsewhere,” he wrote.

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McCain once again trying to get us into another intervention. The man hasn’t met a war he doesn’t like.

In other words the military does NOT want to go in and so American people dont want to. Get it threw these idiot politicians and Obama’s head do not fight for Islamist scum in Syria.

I’m not a ‘dove’, I support interventions when nessecary. But let’s be honest here, with the warped view some US politicians and Pentagon people have, even a butterfly flapping it’s wings in Papua New Guniea requires US intervention, because it’s in it’s ‘interest’. It used to be countries only intervened to perserve trade ties, or expat populations etc. Now it’s a big board of ‘stratego’ game, in which a few large powers vy for every inch of the planet. It would be nice as a game, but when it involves human beings of flesh and blood, as I suspect there are many veterans or active military on this board, they shouldn’t be used as pawns in a power game.

They’re going to have to recognize possible outcomes post-Syria:

Rebels win: Sunni sharia state right on the Med. Can play off against Hezbollah. Next 9/11 attack will be Syrian and Saudi Salafis.

Assad wins: Kill some Sunnis. Double down in Lebanon, import weapons from Iran, collect S-300/S-400 from Russia (then send to Iran?)

I think either outcome will be perfect grist to do the “OBAMA!!!!” dance.

Agreed and someone needs to tell McCain to shut up.

How does congress expect sequestration cuts to kick in AND get involved in another conflict? Oh yeah, they are completely divorced from reality!

aarrgghh…why do we keep on doing this to ourselves? ‘gun boat’ diplomacy doesn’t work against someone who doesn’t care if you are thumbing your nose at them (c.f., Iraq under Saddam Hussein). When you are done ‘helping them, they become inimical to our interests (c.f. Bengazi). CAPT John McCain needs to go home and stop colluding with our enemies (foriegn and domestic!)

good comments, but i think there is something very dark about all of this stuff…wag the dog sort of thing…if the US public is distracted by a thousand things going on in the world, they won’t see the disaster looming at home.

“The world is dangerous, we need a strong military abroad and a well-armed police force at home, and less guns that could get in the hands of dangerous people in civilian hands. Hand them over, proceed to the processing facility…drones will ensure compliance. Do not run. Resistance is futile.”

The Obama and McCain way = a lose lose for America.

Yes, soldiers should never be used as “pawns”. But that is how they have always been used throughout the worlds history. There is always an agenda, and that will not be changing in the foreseeable future. What we need to decide on though is if that agenda is worth pursuing or not.

We’re only supporting the moderates like the FSA and the internationally recognized true leaders of Syria, currently based inside Turkey. If we get involved even more then we already are, we’ll continue to back the moderates and help them ensure they obtain, and maintain control. Just this past week the moderates have been fighting the “terrorist”, and took control of key towns they had controlled after they assassinated one of the FSA’s top commanders.

And we’re still waffling over non-clandestine aid. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have already started moving small arms, but until American airpower arrives the push won’t be very decisive. On the plus side, it’ll consume a ton of the jihadis in Alawite bullets, saving us the trouble of killing them in some other corner of the world.


Other than securing Assad’s WMDs (and that’s really more Israel’s concern than ours), we don’t have a dog in this fight.

The problem is how can you differentiate the rebel groups without having your own forces on the ground as well. There is no way to ship machine guns and rockets to the conflict and guarantee only the “nice guys” will use or keep them.

And there’s no way to secure those facilities and supplies without our own people there in the country.

If McCain wants military intervention, then he should introduce a bill that would pay for whatever the cost that operation will be with an increase in taxes. That will shut him up pretty quickly.


Here’s a new idea, keep out of Syria’s internal affairs!
Did we learn nothing from Iraq, Afgan and Libya?????

Maybe Americans should learn about Syria before they take the word of the western press for what’s going on over there. Assad and his father have been protecting Syrian Christians for many, many decades. Just like Saddam did Iraq and Mubarak did in Egypt. Right after we got rid of these leaders it was wholesale killing on all arab Christians. And it continues to this day.

Those weapons are almost always delivered by special operations forces which then trains the receivers on how to properly use those weapons… we’ve had “boots on the ground” in Syria/Turkey/Jordan almost since the conflict began. And if our elite special forces units aren’t able to differentiate between the FSA and foreign jihadist groups, then we really have a much bigger problem then allowing some of our weapons to fall into the wrong hands.

If we have guys on the ground to physically hand them weapons it could work. The next concern would be what happens to those weapons after the war is over. Those guys might hold onto them, but they might also sell them or they could be stolen. We’ve given weapons to people to have it bite us in the rear down the road.

We may not have a dog in the fight but we have interests. Boots on the ground is a no go but so is chem proliferation. The Iranians and the Russians aren’t our friends and neither are the Salafists but ignoring what happens is asking for surprises. That’s how the Taliban came to power..

Maybe w should stay out like Iran and Russia have…

Totally ignoring a country is how the Taliban came to power.That didn’t turn out too well.

I’m not championing intervention but isolationism isn’t a wise choice.

The bigger issue of this story that Dempsey had to be threatened with non-confirmation to answer a question. The Pres might be the CIC but the General owes answers to Congress when it asks. They are coequal branches.


Take Dempsey’s cost estimates, multiply by 5, and one gets a rough approximation of the actual costs in terms of dollars. All these options are fraught with unintended consequences. To be fair, so is “doing nothing”. We simply live in “interesting times”.

There’s a time and a place for intervention.

Pro: The Assad government grudgingly cut the flow of insurgents, because those Sunnis were going to come home and take warfighting skills and use them on him.

Con: Assad is aligning himself with our perceived enemy in the great game, Iran.

It could really go either way. Yesterday we didn’t like the Sunnis because they were killing Americans. Today we love ‘em, cause they are killing Shia.

And tomorrow?

I wish the Army would start thinking in terms of strategy rather than confining its thought to operational and tactical considerations. This is what separates the legacy of George Marshall from the Colin Powell/Cap Weinberger “can’t finish the job, where is my exit strategy” ilk.

Get control of the facts on the ground, and that’s all the exit strategy you need.

The problem is that the difference between the US Armed Forces and a “well-armed police force” is becoming less and less evident each and every day. Take the chains off our military and stop applying the policeman’s dictum of minimum use of force. This is what McCain understands and is trying to get the generals to concede.

I’ll be waiting to see how this works out for the Stryker brigades going in. Where were our Future Combat Systems when we really needed them ?

Or magical LCS to clear the way for Marines to land at Tartus?

There’s something comical about cops in America being given more tools to use more force, and the Army being forced to use less and less force. What on earth…?

McCain is trying to get Dempsey to agree with him that we need to invade Syria. Dempsey is trying to explain that nothing short of a full on invasion and occupation will get us the kind of control that you and McCain seem to want. I don’t know if you’ve seen McCain’s speeches and interviews on the subject, but he keeps talking about seizing their WMDs, giving weapons to the rebels, and overthrowing Assad all without putting troops on the ground.

I always believed that trying to think a war through from start to finish WAS strategic thinking. Marshall lived in a time where we still full-on invaded and destroyed other countries and it was clearly in our national interest to do so. FDR didn’t put any restrictions on him and clearly defined what he wanted out of the war. We haven’t had that luxury.

I’m not a fan of GEN Dempsey but it appeared to me that McCain was prodding him for an answer that he wanted to hear. That being said, GEN Demspey has given a lot of half-answers on a wide range of issues in the last year.

LOL, like FCS would have made any difference in this environment!

McCain is looking for publicity. Can’t take him serious which is scary and a good reason to take the title of US Senator from him. Thank Arizona.

We used to declare war back in that day also.

I don’t buy into the belief we can’t wage total war nor that we have to fight with kid’s gloves on but it’s up to our leaders to make the case and not have the opposing party take their legs out from underneath them.

Wow the Russians just completed a large exercise in which they moved 65,000 troops, Armor, mobile air defense systems, Jet Fighters and Army Aviation assets, by air, ground and sea. 1,400KM in 72 hours. They then established a no-fly zone, networked together ADA systems and divided a area the size of Montana into 8 sectors of military command. How far is it from Grozny to Damascus?

You’re missing the big picture. It’s not the military that looks for wars. He was asked for options and he provided from a military point of view, that’s his job! He doesnt make the decision. Politicians make the policy and final decisions after considering ALL options. Past wars have been hindered by political correctness. Left to complete the mission, the military CAN do it. But micro-management by politicians destroys the plans. Example, even if fired on, obtain clearance or no fire zones regardless of enemy aggressive action.

The WMDs are everybody’s problem not just Israel’s. Understand once unleashed, there is no telling how far the contamination could spread, especially via travelers or shipping. WMDs could destroy the entire Middle East. Another point, have you forgotten what happened during the Carter years? Rationed gas ! The oil fields in the wrong hands would destroy the world economy. There are too many repercussion to just pretend nothing is happening.

keep our money, equipment, medical and the lives of our great servicemen. what is wrong with these people that are supposed to be our leaders in this country ? stay out of any conflicts and keep our opinions to ourselves. syria is a religous civil war that is non of our DAMMED BUSINESS!!! syrian conflict poses the potential to start a world war.

Senility is surely affecting Sen. Mc Cain,it’s about time for him to retire.Why should we intervene in Syria? There are the Arab League armed forces,let them do the job.Haven’t we learned anything from our previous interventions in those areas?Let’s spend our dollars to save our beleaguered cities from bankrupticy.

Not just WMDs, I think, but based on the experience of Iraq and Libya, go in and collect all the Syrian army’s weapons. Either haul off or destroy it all. Leave nothing for the terrorists to take over and use to do what terrorists do. Otherwise you are just replaying variants of the Nixon and Reagan doctrines, and we’ve seen how that turns out. Frankly, I’m agnostic on the post-conflict reconstruction dimension of the problem. The mistake the Arab world continuously makes in dealing with the United States is that they don’t have the good grace to just say, “Thanks for liberating us” — and then let the Americans like we want to. McMaster just wrote this long and confused editorial to the NYT about how we need to get inside the heads of the target population and deal with the uncertainty of modern conflict — as it he invented that idea. I’d personally be okay with occupying the Middle East from Antioch to Iranshar if that’s what it takes.…not that I really expect us to do that. But ultimately it is our goal and our interest to stabilize and pacify the region — not to dominate it.

There is a sort of distorted wisdom in that remark.…

Actually, FDR lived by obscurity. Unconditional surrender was not a foregone conclusion. It was only AFTER the consequences of Yalta played out that the US leadership realized where this policy had led.

Here is the dilemma in Operations Process terms. The US Army has a doctine for Phases II (Seize the Initiative) and III (Dominate) — Combined Arms Maneuver. It has a Stability Operations doctrine for Phases IV (Stabilize) and V (Enable Civil Authority). It has no coherent doctrine for Phase 0 (Shape) and 1 (Deter).

What signal do we send the Syrians, the Russians and the Iranians when we cut USAREUR by half, taking out all of the tanks ? We seem to think that a humanitarian relief mission to Jordan sends a signal to our adversaries that we’re really, really, serious, no kidding, this time.

By failing to take our role in Phases 0 and 1 seriously, we are setting ourselfs up for failure later on.

Depends on how you look at it. Going back to General Abrams the Lesser’s Strike Force concept, this opposed early entry scenario is exactly the situation FCS was designed for. Especially if you are in a race to secure WMD sites and you need eyeballs on target. So, give me all the minus votes you like, and you’re still wrong, as you’ve always been about FCS. You might even live long enough to apologize and tell me I was right all along.

FCS was never going to provide the situational awareness necessary. Wes saw even in computer simulations we were no where near the 90% required to see first, know first, act first. The enemy gets a vote. Any force going into Syria isn’t going to find crowds throwing flowers.

One might well ask — 90% of what ? You err in the notion that it was all about the C4ISR, all about the network. Of course the enemy gets a vote, of course you don’t have a perfect picture of the battlefield. That’s not the point. It was always about maneuver, and facilitating maneuver. FCS would have given us not just improved mobility, but more precise firepower than we ever had before. Plus the unmanned systems, every one of which got canned by the green eyeshade warriors and the defeatists. Way to go, Maneuver Center of Excellence.

90% of the enemy picture, his locations did you forget? Knox could do accomplish this because on their urban database enemy forces couldn’t position inside buildings so everything was visible. We at Benning pointed out the enemy doesn’t stay outdoors so the drones can see them. The brilliance of Knox and “speed and steel” crowd.

Of course this isn’t all about the C4ISR and I’m not making it so but C4ISR is what the advantage of FCS was about. It’s two of the three “firsts”! FCS wasn’t going to give us more precise fires or mobility than what we have today and the armor was going to be equal or less protected than current systems. Now you just are parroting the sales pitches of the vendors and the gullible.

Unmanned systems? We have almost all of them today.. In the air they are working great. On the ground with complex terrain, not so much (another message we communicated to the “speed and steel” crowd).

FCS died and rightfully so before the MOE. Thank God. The MOE can’t claim that achievement but at least the last ten years has shown the armor force the folly of some of their misconceptions about urban warfare. A lot that needed to be learned painfully was. It would have been much easier if they took our word for it.

Considering that I got through PDR in the program, I can at least speak about FCS from experience — and I don’t think that any of the criticisms of the program that outsiders and second guessers made about the program are valid. I am far from a fan of the analysis campaign that supported the program, and the standard scenarios were always off base, Simulating urban combat was always in the ‘hard-to-handle” bucket, again I have some experience with this, having done two builds of the Fort Benning MOUT site terrain model. Things are getting better in that area. And while UAMBL saw people come and go, before BRAC, there was a core staff in the sim center that had done things the same way for a long time. While there was goodness there, they could be hard to deal with.

You forget I’m not an outsider or a second guesser when it comes to FCS. Knox had lead but it wasn’t the be all end all contrary to your efforts to portray it that way and Knox’s attempts to isolate other branches input. The fact we got to the PDR for such a fundamentally flawed system is rather a tribute to how difficult it is to kill a weapons program especially when it is well designed to line as many pockets as FCS would have.

The Benning mout site builds (of which I have also done several terrain builds) are hardly representative of an urban fight above company level. http://​www​.fas​.org/​i​r​p​/​a​g​e​n​c​y​/​n​i​m​a​/​p​r​o​g​r​a​m​/​m​g​0​4.g… Let alone get to how FCS would perform in a real MOUT fight. 15 stand alone structures just doesn’t depicting the complexities of an urban fight.(In comparison Knox developed a 40x40km terrain base to address mounted maneuver issues) This is a great example of the superficial treatment the UAMBL brain trust gave to the most challenging and has turned out to be all too common environment we actually fight in. The pigheadedness you demonstrate on the issue demonstrates why FCS was a monumental failure and why it survived as long as it did.

I’m not going to convince you but readers should know Knox went as far as trying to develop an Infantry like simulation capability to get the answers they wanted from FCS when all the data coming from Benning showed the fundamental failures of FCS. The Army recognized Knox’s effort and ensured the whole team analysis vs. the check the block approach of armor when it came to the close combat dismounted fight. You didn’t get it then and you still don’t get it.


Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it.

Isa 19:22

The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them.

Isa 19:23

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

Isa 19:24

In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth,

Isa 19:25

whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

Send McCain to intervene with HIS body not of our troops.

This is a Shite — Sunni civil war, NOT an American — Middle East, Christian — islam, Western — Moslem civil war. This war is STRICTLY Syrian and has stayed STRICTLY Syrian. Just like Iraq the U.S has no legal or moral reason to intevene period. STAY OUT OGF SYRIA’s BUSINESS.

Oh excuse me censors of this website. I didn’t intend to cuss out the Shia’s.

Anyone who advocates or votes for involving the U.S. in Syria should be required to put on a uniform and go straight to the front lines. We can’t afford this, have no stake in it and if our involvement in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Egypt is any measure, we no longer have the leaders who really know how to get in do a job and get out.

The only winners in this game are corrupt foreign politicians who get bags of cash from our CIA.


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