U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday announced the deployment of 200 soldiers from an Army headquarters unit to Jordan to help contain violence along the Jordan-Syria border.
He also warned of potential consequences of direct U.S. military action in the Syrian conflict.
Hagel and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey jointly announced the deployment in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hagel told the Senate panel that the additional troops would work alongside a U.S. military detachment that had been working in Jordan since last year on planning related to chemical weapons response and preventing a spillover of violence across Jordan's borders. He said their combined efforts would "improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios."
Hagel said the DoD personnel and their inter-agency partners had been helping nations neighboring Syria to counter the threat posed by chemical weapons, noting that Patriot missile batteries were deployed to southern Turkey in December as part of NATO's mission to help Ankara secure its border with Syria.
He pointed out that those initiatives, which were being carried out through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, included more than $70 million for activities in Jordan. The assistance included training and equipment to detect and stop chemical weapons transfers along the Jordan-Syria border, and helping in developing Jordan's capacity to identify and secure chemical weapons assets.
Stressing that the U.S. is continuing its diplomatic efforts to isolate the Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad from the international community, Hagel said Washington had already committed $117 million to the Syrian Opposition coalition in non-lethal assistance and provided $385 million to alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict.
Nevertheless, Hagel cautioned the lawmakers about the risks involved in direct U.S. intervention in the Syrian conflict, saying that such a move would hamper humanitarian relief operations, embroil the United States in a significant, lengthy and uncertain military commitment. He also warned that a unilateral intervention could have an adverse effort on U.S. relations around the world.
"Military intervention is always an option, but an option of last resort. The best outcome for Syria -- and the region -- is a negotiated, political transition to a post-Assad Syria," he added.
Gen. Dempsey also cautioned the lawmakers on the potential effects of a direct military intervention in Syria, saying: "The use of force, especially in circumstances where ethnic and religious factors dominate, is unlikely to produce predictable outcomes. Unintended consequences are the rule with military interventions of this sort."
by RTT Staff Writer
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