Obama administration has signaled it is ready to intervene militarily
July 23, 2013
Following a run-in last week with Arizona Senator John McCain during a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff boss Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Monday U.S. involvement in Syria will cost billions.
Dempsey: “The decision whether to use force is the decision of our election officials.”
“I know that the decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly,” Dempsey said in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It is no less than an act of war.”
Dempsey’s letter was sent in response to a request by Levin and McCain to have the Pentagon assess possible scenarios of U.S. military intervention in the Syria civil war.
A no-fly zone imposed over Syria would cost around $500 million to establish and more than a billion per month to maintain, Dempsey said.
“A limited no-fly zone coupled with U.S. ground forces would push the costs over $1 billion per month,” he wrote. “Risks are similar to the no-fly zone with the added problem of regime surface fires into the zones, killing more refugees due to their concentration. The zones could also become operational bases for extremists.”
In May, it was reported that the Obama administration had asked the Pentagon to begin planning for a Syrian no-fly zone. The request was timed to coincide with Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the Middle East.
The Obama administration instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the first time to plan for multilateral military actions inside Syria, two officials told The Daily Beast. “The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s more advanced than it’s ever been,” an Obama administration official said.
“Washington is considering a no-fly zone to help Assad’s opponents,” an unnamed diplomat told the Wall Street Journal. He described the operation as limited “time-wise and area-wise, possibly near the Jordanian border.” The no-fly zone would reach over 25 miles into Syria. It would be enforced by U.S. Navy ships based in the Mediterranean or Red Sea and flown from Jordan.
Both McCain and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have pushed for direct military intervention to depose the government of Bashar al-Assad.
“We need to create a no-fly zone,” Graham insisted on NBC’s Meet the Press last month. “We cannot take air power out of the equation.”