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352 words - July 24, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
On July 19, US Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., have sent a letter to General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asking for his assessment on a number of issues related to United States' policy in Syria and Afghanistan.
The letter followed a hearing on July 18 on Gen. Dempsey's re-nomination to continue to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two Senators said the General's answers would be necessary "in order to move forward promptly with the confirmation proceedings." On Syria, 6 questions focused on the costs, benefits and risks associated with training and arming the Syrian opposition, and on what military options could be envisaged in order to "shift the military balance against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad."
Summing up, the main question was to know whether "the benefits of limited kinetic military action in Syria would outweigh the costs" of arming the Syrian opposition. On July 22, Gen. Dempsey replied, writing he understood the two Senators' need to know "how military force could be used in order to decide whether it should be used." Reminding what has been and is still being done like the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the deployment of Patriot batteries to Turkey and Jordan, Gen. Dempsey described 5 options.
1) Train, advise and assist the Syrian opposition,
2) Conduct limited stand-off strikes,
3) Establish a no-fly zone,
4) Establish buffer zones,
5) Control chemical weapons.
Stressing such options could be used or mixed altogether in the context of "an overall whole-of-government strategy", Gen. Dempsey insisted he has supported a "regional approach that would isolate the conflict to prevent regional destabilization and weapons proliferation."
In the meantime, the United States "should help develop a moderate opposition – including their military capabilities – while maintaining pressure on the Assad regime." Gen. Dempsey warned, however, that in absence of a "viable opposition," the United States could finally "empower extremists" with its share of "unintended consequences."
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