- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Panetta: No U.S. troops in Syria if chemical weapons used
Question of the Day
No U.S. ground troops will be sent to Syria to secure chemical weapons if the Syrian regime falls, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Thursday in the Defense Department’s most detailed public comments to date on planning for Syria.
“We’re not working on options that involve boots on the ground,” Mr. Panetta said at a Pentagon briefing. “I think you always have to keep the possibility that, if there is a peaceful transition and international organizations get involved, that they might ask for assistance in that situation. But in a hostile situation, we’re not planning for that.”
He said the greater challenge is deciding what steps the international community can take to ensure those weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.
“That is a discussion that we are having, not only with the Israelis but with other countries in the region, to try to look at, you know, what steps need to be taken in order to make sure that these sites are secured and that they don’t wind up in the wrong hands,” Mr. Panetta said.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there is nothing the U.S. could do to prevent Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime from using chemical weapons on rebels.
“The act of preventing the use of chemical weapons would be almost unachievable … because you would have to have such clarity of intelligence, you know, persistent surveillance. You’d have to actually see it before it happened. And that’s unlikely, to be sure,” Gen. Dempsey said.
He added that the U.S. is doing what it can to send the message that the use of chemical weapons would be unacceptable. Defense officials have called such use a “red line.”
“I think that Syria must understand by now that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. And to that extent, it provides a deterrent value. But preventing it — if they decide to use it, I think we would be reacting,” Gen. Dempsey said.
Syrian rebels lately have been making gains against the regime’s forces in the country’s 21-month-long civil war, but neither side has scored decisive victories.
The Assad regime has said it would not use chemical weapons against civilians but fears such weapons could end up in the hands of “terrorists,” as it refers to the rebels.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Despite Pentagon cuts and eye on Pacific, Air Force implored to save the 'Warthog'
- Rep. Hunter to Pentagon: Don't lower combat standards for women
- Pentagon welcomes budget deal but says more defense spending needed
- Hagel renews Qatar defense pact despite differences over Iran, Syria
- Scientists raise alarm over plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons at sea
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Army's 3-D printed bombs to create 'a whole new universe' of lethal capabilities
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
- Colorado poll shows women tuning out Democrats' 'war on women' strategy
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world