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  •  Syria targets (11+ / 0-)

    Well Foreign Policy has suggestively Mapped: 35 Places In Syria Likely to Get Hit With a U.S. Cruise Missile.

    It seems more and more likely that the United States will take some kind of military action against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.
    Ever notice how every government the US doesn't like is a regime?
    The goal of the attacks is unclear. But one of the suggested aims is to stop the Assad government from using chemical weapons. If that's the case, the American military may well find itself going after everything from chemical plants to arms depots to airfields in an effort to sever the the Syrian military's ability to make, store and fire its deadly sarin, mustard, and VX gas stockpiles.

    Chris Harmer of the Institute for the Study of War thinks they won't be nearly as useful as the aircraft are...

    "I think the most effective tactic at this point to deny further use of chemical weapons would be to take out the Syrian air force," said Harmer.

    "My assumption is Assad has dispersed his chemical weapons stockpile sufficiently that there isn't one big fat target waiting to be hit," added Harmer. "So, using cruise missiles to run around looking for individual targets gets really expensive, really quickly."


    Harmer says he's not particularly worried about chemical collateral damage; the worst of the weapons, like sarin, are stored in "binary" format, with their chemical pre-cursors in separate units. "These weapons are more difficult to use than people realize; damaging them in place may vent chemicals to the atmosphere, but it is not like nuclear radiation -- chemical weapons will dissipate" relatively quickly, said Harmer. "There may be some collateral damage [in a strike destroying such weapons], but far less than use of chemical weapons" by the Assad regime.

    •  Harmer doesn't think cruise strikes will work (7+ / 0-)

      Foreign Policy: Architect of Syria War Plan Doubts Surgical Strikes Will Work

      Now, a former U.S. Navy planner responsible for outlining an influential and highly-detailed proposal for surgical strikes tells The Cable he has serious misgivings about the plan. He says too much faith is being put into the effectiveness of surgical strikes on Assad's forces with little discussion of what wider goals such attacks are supposed to achieve.

      "Tactical actions in the absence of strategic objectives is usually pointless and often counterproductive," Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said. "I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people took it as that."

      "I made it clear that this is a low cost option, but the broader issue is that low cost options don't do any good unless they are tied to strategic priorities and objectives," he added. "Any ship officer can launch 30 or 40 Tomahawks. It's not difficult. The difficulty is explaining to strategic planners how this advances U.S. interests."

      In July, Harmer authored a widely-circulated study showing how the U.S. could degrade key Syrian military installations on the cheap with virtually no risk to U.S. personnel. "It could be done quickly, easily, with no risk whatsoever to American personnel, and a relatively minor cost," said Harmer. One of the study's proposals was cruise missile strikes from what are known as TLAMs (Tomahawk land attack missiles) fired from naval vessels in the Mediterranean.

      The study immediately struck a chord with hawkish lawmakers on the Hill who were frustrated with the options outlined by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey that required a major commitment by U.S. military forces with a pricetag in the billions.

      Any military involvement with Syria has  D I S A S T E R  written all over it.

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