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US Gen Martin Dempsey: We Can’t Plan for a Syria Intervention Without Knowing the Intended Outcome

9 June 2012

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey, again, pushed back against those advocating military action against Syria during a briefing at the Pentagon. First off, when asked if he had thought that diplomatic and economic pressure had failed to prevent the killings in Syria, he replied that "The pressures that are being brought to bear are — are simply not having the effect I think that we intend. But I’m not prepared to advocate that we abandon that track at this point."

But an even more complicated question is what would a military intervention be intended to accomplish. He flat out refused, when asked, to characterize what type of military force would be needed to stop the violence. "I have to know what the outcome is. You tell me what the outcome is, I can build you a plan to achieve that outcome," he said. "Certain outcomes you might expect — I mean, let’s — let’s — let’s go back historically. Tell me you want regime change in Iraq, I can build you a plan, and I know how many divisions, I know how many air wings, and I know how — you know, I know what it takes. Tell me that following that regime change you want me to restore order, do nation building, stability operations, and I know what that looks like. So you know, anything at this point vis-a-vis Syria would be hypothetical in the extreme, and I can’t build that plan unless I understand the outcome."

Of course, the actual intended outcome of Obama’s British masters in Southwest Asia is a thermonuclear confrontation with Russia and China, not something that the US military is eager to plan for.