WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry
last week called for immediate US airstrikes against airfields under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s
regime - specifically, those fields it has used to launch chemical
weapons raids against rebel forces, Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg reported.
Kerry presented his plan during a principals meeting in the White House situation room, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey "threw a series of brushback pitches at Kerry, demanding to know just exactly what the post-strike plan would be and pointing out that the State Department didn’t fully grasp the complexity of such an operation," according to the report.
Dempsey, the Bloomberg report said, informed Kerry that the Air Force could not simply drop a few bombs, or fire a few missiles, at targets inside Syria:
To be safe, the US would have to neutralize Syria’s integrated air-defense system, an operation that would require 700 or more sorties. "Dempsey is said to have argued that a demand by the State Department for precipitous military action in a murky civil war wasn’t welcome," Goldberg wrote.
According to officials with knowledge of the meeting, Dempsey said that without much of an entrance strategy, without anything resembling an exit strategy, and without even a clear-eyed understanding of the consequences of an American airstrike, the Pentagon
would be extremely reluctant to get behind Kerry’s plan.
The outcome of the meeting last week, Goldberg wrote, was to formalize a decision made weeks ago to supply the more moderate elements of the Syrian opposition with small arms and ammunition.
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