Tags: Syria | military | uneasy | syria | strike

Washington Post: Military Has Doubts About Syria Strike

Image: Washington Post: Military Has Doubts About Syria Strike

Friday, 30 Aug 2013 10:53 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The U.S. military is hesitant to embrace President Barack Obama's plan to launch a missile strike on Syria, current and former officers revealed in interviews.

Military officers ranging from captains to four-star generals said they are uneasy about a potential Syrian missile strike because it could have unintended consequences, such as turning attention away from their exit from Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported.

"I can't believe the president is even considering it," a young Army officer, who is wrapping up a yearlong tour overseas, told the Post under the condition of anonymity. "We have been fighting the last 10 years a counterinsurgency war. Syria has modern weaponry. We would have to retrain for a conventional war."

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

Some military officials worry about retaliation from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, while others fear ripple effects that could include Iran following through on its threat to attack Israel, retaliation from radical groups, or the U.S. being charged with war crimes.

"The application of force rarely produces and, in fact, maybe never produces the outcome we seek," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with ABC News earlier this month.

Active-duty military leaders said they feel strongly that a strike in Syria would serve no purpose for the U.S.

"What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?" one retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning asked. "I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish."

Conservatives have denounced a possible Syrian attack as an "impeachable act," especially if the president goes against Congress.

"President Obama is usurping the authority of the Congress first and foremost, and he appears about to launch an unconstitutional and unnecessary war," political commentator Pat Buchanan told Newsmax TV Thursday. 

"So the president should be called to account by the Congress and told: no war without our approval. That's the way the Constitution works.

"If the president launched an unnecessary and unconstitutional war, striking a country against whom we have not declared war and has not attacked us, that is de facto an impeachable act that could lead to an open-ended war, the consequences of which we cannot even see."

Still, some maintain that the military as a whole must support Obama's decisions or risk appearing weak.

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

"When a president draws a red line, for better or worse, it’s policy," an Army lieutenant colonel told the Post, referring to Obama’s declaration last year about Syria’s potential use of chemical weapons. "It cannot appear to be scared or tepid. Remember, with respect to policy choices concerning Syria, we are discussing degrees of bad and worse."

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