Taxpayers would pay about $1 billion a month to send in the military to Syria's ongoing civil conflict, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told congressional members in a letter released Monday.
Gen. Dempsey provided the cost estimates via leter to Senate Armed Services Committee members for five different scenarios of U.S. involvement in Syria — training, advising and assisting rebels; performing limited strikes; imposing no-fly zones; imposing buffer zones; and controlling chemical weapons. Each would cost about $1 billion each month, he said, Politico reported.
"All of these options would likely further the narrow military objecting of helping the opposition and placing more pressure on the regime," Gen. Dempsey said in his letter, which was dated Friday. "[But] it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state."
For instance, he said, U.S. actions in Syria could lead to "unintended consequences," he said, Politico reported.
"Should the regime's institutions collapse in the absence of a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control," he said. And that, in turn, could constitute "no less than an act of war," at a time of tight U.S. budgets.
Gen. Dempsey warned that ratcheting up U.S. involvement in Syria likely meant "compromising our security elsewhere," he said.
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