U.S. ‘Not on a Path’ to Help Syrian Rebels Win, Says Dempsey

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey outlines three things the rebels need to defeat Assad and secure Syria—none of which the U.S. is providing.

A Syrian rebel fighter walks on a dust-covered street in Aleppo following a reported government airstrike on Sunday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday said it would seek to "establish facts" about claims of chlorine-gas attacks in Syria.
National Journal
Kevin Baron, Defense One
Add to Briefcase
Kevin Baron, Defense One
May 14, 2014, 12:08 p.m.

Joint Chiefs Chair­man Gen. Mar­tin De­mp­sey says the United States is not provid­ing Syr­i­an rebels what they would need to win the war against Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad’s re­gime.

De­mp­sey’s re­marks keep the chair­man ““ a former di­vi­sion com­mand­er in the Ir­aq war ““ on fa­mil­i­ar foot­ing, as he leads top Pentagon gen­er­als skep­tic­al of us­ing dir­ect U.S. mil­it­ary force to aid Syr­i­an rebels or oth­er­wise in­ter­vene mil­it­ar­ily in Syr­ia’s fu­ture be­cause of the coun­try’s an­ti­cip­ated long-term se­cur­ity needs after any ini­tial con­flict. De­mp­sey out­lined spe­cific­ally why he be­lieves Syr­ia’s rebels need far more than a res­cue mis­sion.

“They need the force they have now, which is try­ing to pro­tect loc­al vil­lages and try to har­ass the re­gime and level the play­ing field. They need something that even­tu­ally will be able to hold ground. And they need a coun­terter­ror cap­ab­il­ity ““ all of which is re­spons­ive to Syr­i­ans,” De­mp­sey said Wed­nes­day at the At­lantic Coun­cil, a NATO-ori­ented think tank in Wash­ing­ton,D.C. “And we are not on a path cur­rently to provide that.”

“That’s the con­ver­sa­tion that we need to have,” De­mp­sey said, but not uni­lat­er­ally, in­stead call­ing for coun­tries in the re­gion to face the real­ity of those needs. “It’s Beirut to Dam­as­cus to Bagh­dad,” De­mp­sey said.

From the out­set of Syr­ia’s civil war — des­pite its growth in to a multi-year con­flict claim­ing more than 100,000 lives and dis­pers­ing mil­lions in­to neigh­bor­ing Middle East states — De­mp­sey and seni­or U.S. mil­it­ary lead­ers, in­clud­ing Gen. Ray Odi­erno, Army chief of staff and former com­mand­er of the Ir­aq war, in their ef­forts to pre­pare mil­it­ary op­tions in Syr­ia for Pres­id­ent Barack Obama, have pub­licly ques­tioned the pur­pose of Amer­ic­an troops in Syr­ia after an As­sad de­feat.

In Syr­ia, gov­ern­ment forces have re­gained con­trol of Homs, the coun­try’s third-largest city, where a 2-year siege has res­id­ents feel­ing like the war is over, ac­cord­ing to the Los Angeles Times. Mean­while, France al­leged Syr­ia has con­duc­ted more than one dozen chem­ic­al at­tacks since the United States op­ted against mil­it­ary strikes last fall, and Lakh­dar Brahimi, the top United Na­tions ne­go­ti­at­or on Syr­ia resigned Tues­day, sig­nal­ing the West’s frus­tra­tion at get­ting Syr­ia’s fight­ing fac­tions to­ward any polit­ic­al solu­tion and fears that much more con­flict is likely to come.

“Look, if As­sad took his fam­ily and all of his cronies and de­par­ted Syr­ia today, how does that coun­try ““ how does it ar­tic­u­late it­self?” De­mp­sey said.

“I’ve heard it de­scribed as a suc­ces­sion of con­flicts. You have the con­flict that cur­rently ex­ists; then there’ll be the second con­flict, which is kind of an in­tern­al con­flict; and then there’ll be the third con­flict against the ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tions that are grow­ing,” he said. “That’s prob­ably right.”

What We're Following See More »
STAKES ARE HIGH
Debate Could Sway One-Third of Voters
14 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."

Source:
YOU DON’T BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE
Gennifer Flowers May Not Appear After All
25 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."

Source:
HAS BEEN OFF OF NEWSCASTS FOR A WEEK
For First Debate, Holt Called on NBC Experts for Prep
37 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.

Source:
WHITE HOUSE PROMISES VETO
House Votes to Bar Cash Payments to Iran
51 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."

Source:
NO SURPRISE
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
51 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Source:
×