- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
General warns of Syrian bioweapons, Iran threat
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. commander in the Middle East will warn Congress on Tuesday against efforts to scale back the Navy's presence in the embattled region, saying threats from Iran and elsewhere will require more ships and maritime missile defense capabilities.
Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, also said Syria has a "substantial" chemical and biological weapons capability and thousands of shoulder-launched missiles. Until now, the U.S. military has largely declined to describe the expanse of weapons that President Bashar Assad's regime has at its disposal.
Mattis laid out his concerns in testimony prepared for Senate and House Armed Services Committee hearings this week. He and Navy Adm. William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, are testifying before the Senate panel Tuesday. The testimony was obtained by The Associated Press.
Mattis' comments come as the Obama administration meets with Israeli leaders this week to discuss the escalating Iranian threat and the possibility of a pre-emptive strike by Israel.
Against a backdrop of roughly $500 billion in Pentagon budget cuts over the next decade, Mattis said the U.S. must use its Navy and special operations forces to maintain a smaller but still strong military presence in the Middle East as the wars in Iran and Afghanistan end.
"The stacked Iranian threats … of ballistic missiles, long-range rockets, mines, small boats, cruise missiles and submarines demand stronger naval presence and capability to protect vital sea lines of communication," Mattis said.
At the same time, he described a deteriorating situation in Syria, fueled in part by Iran. The prospects of a civil war are rising in Syria, he said, but the "options available to address the situation are extremely challenging."
Some members of Congress have called for U.S. and international military action against the Assad regime to stem a brutal offensive against the Syrian people. But the Obama administration and other international leaders have opposed military intervention and instead have pushed instead for increased sanctions.
U.S. officials argue that unlike the military campaign in Libya last year that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, a military campaign in Syria would be far more difficult, would not get the backing of the U.N. Security Council and would be hampered by a less coordinated opposition force.
TWT Video Picks
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Cutler wins endorsement from gun control group
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Man says he shot burglar who said she was pregnant
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq