Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Pentagon Readies Plans for Securing Syrian Chem, Bio Sites
The U.S. armed forces have blueprinted how service members would carry out a number of potential missions related to Syria, including a possible instruction to secure sensitive chemical and biological installations in the internally embattled Middle Eastern nation, government sources said in a Thursday report by CNN (see GSN, June 11).
Insiders said a Defense Department analysis finished within the past several weeks identifies requirements pertaining to specific assets and personnel quantities, and it provides expense projections for particular missions. Plans also address the potential execution of related support functions for other governments in the region, according to sources.
Implementing any of the described missions would pose a formidable challenge, government personnel said, noting each would demand significant personnel quantities and commitment over a long duration. Insiders stressed that the preparations were precautionary in nature and that the White House has yet to call for any such moves.
Development of the plans accompanied growing fears in Washington over the potential for Syria's deadly political instability to erupt into full-scale domestic conflict.
Among the core worries in neighboring Jordan is the potential for any rapid disintegration of President Bashar Assad's regime to snarl Syria's oversight of its chemical and biological armament programs. Jordanian forces could directly intervene to guard related locations in a radical envisioned contingency, according to CNN.
Jordanian action in Syria could benefit from tactical data and monitoring assistance supplied by U.S. armed services, but no existing plan calls for the Pentagon to deploy service members in either Syria or Jordan, CNN reported.
A U.S. government insider said the United States is scrutinizing Syria's chemical and biological armament facilities from space on a continuous basis, and to date "there is no reason to believe they are not secure."
The sites are thought in Washington to be under the protection of select, dedicated Assad regime military personnel, the source said. Still, new apparent momentum in efforts by Syrian rebels might eventually leave the locations vulnerable to strikes, raids and extremists interested in purchasing related assets.
"This is getting a fair amount of attention," an insider said, adding that the potential necessity for deployment of U.S. chemical and biological sensors has been addressed in talks with Jordan's armed services.
Any move to protect Syria's WMD sites would require military involvement within hours, Washington believes (Barbara Starr, CNN, June 14).
The Assad government might pass its chemical warfare assets to Hezbollah in Lebanon should the regime's fall appear imminent, Russia Today on Thursday quoted an Israeli military officer as saying (Russia Today, June 14).
March 12, 2013
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