Tags: army | keane | assad | syria

Former Army Heavyweight Keane: Take Out Assad's Airfields

Image: Former Army Heavyweight Keane: Take Out Assad's Airfields Syrian government forces' helicopters are parked at a military base near the northern Syrian town of Taftanaz.

Thursday, 23 May 2013 11:50 AM

By Dan Weil

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The best way to take away Syrian President Bashar Assad's military might is to destroy his airfields, says Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army.

"Assad's troops are well armed, and his ground forces are waging successful campaigns against rebel forces across the country," he and Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, write in The Wall Street Journal.

"But eliminating Assad's ability to take to the air and tilting the balance of power in favor of anti-Assad rebels . . . is both achievable and advisable."

Syria has a potent air force, which can even spew chemical weapons against its own people and may already be doing so, Keand and Pletka say.

"What is keeping Assad in power is his use of fighter planes. If the U.S. wants to break the military stalemate, force Assad into political concessions or aid in his ouster, eliminating his air power should be the first order of business."

And how to do that?

"One option is to outfit moderate rebel units vetted by the CIA with man-portable antiaircraft missiles," Keane, now chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, and Pletka say.

"A cleaner and more decisive option is to strike Syrian aircraft and the regime's key airfields through which Iranian and Russian weapons are flowing to government forces," they state. "If American forces use standoff cruise missiles and B-2 stealth bombers for these strikes, they will be out of the enemy's reach."

Keane, a four-star general, served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. He retired in 2003

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