US President Obama with Jordan's King Abdullah II
Photo: Reuters
US bolsters Army presence in Jordan to prepare for Syria intervention
Defense Secretary Hagel says planning for possible chemical weapons use, violence spillover to Jordan; Hagel still wary of involvement: Once you're in, you can't unwind it

Washington -- The United States is dispatching Army planners to Jordan as neighboring Syria's conflict worsens, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday.


The 100 additional soldiers will prepare for a possible direct intervention in the Syrian arena. Currently 150 US Army soldiers are in Jordan, training local forces and Syrian rebels.


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Hagel told a Senate hearing the Pentagon was sending an Army headquarters unit to Jordan, bolstering efforts started last year to plan for contingencies related to Syria's chemical weapons and to prevent a spillover of violence across Jordan's border.

פצועים סורים שלפי החשד נפגעו מנשק כימי. ארה"ב תתערב? (צילום: EPA) 

Syrian allegedly injured by chemical weapons (Photo: EPA)


A US official told Reuters that the total number of American planners in Jordan would remain roughly at 200 because an existing team is largely being withdrawn.

מדריכים אמריקנים באפגניסטן. פועלים משנה שעברה בירדן (צילום: AP) 

US Army trainers in Afghanistan (Photo: AP)


Still, the deployment of the headquarters unit - which could theoretically command combat troops - was seen as an enhancement over the previous ad hoc team of planners, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


At the hearing, Hagel added that the US has an obligation to think through the consequences of any US military move in Syria and be honest about potential long-term commitments.


But he remained wary of US intervention in the war. "Once you're in, you can't unwind it," Hagel said.

"You can't just say, 'Well, it's not going as well as I thought it would go so we're gonna get out.'" 


Reuters contributed to this report



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