US Army Chief Suggests Military Intervention in Syria Before End of
The U.S. Army's top officer has said that the window of opportunity for a military assault on Syria is within the next three to four months and that budget cuts would render intervention after the end of summer unlikely.
Speaking with reporters yesterday Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, warned that planned training cutbacks due to the sequester meant that if the Obama administration wanted to give the green light for intervention it would have to act quickly.
"Readiness is OK right now, but it's degrading significantly because our training is reducing. So, the next three, four months, we probably have the capability to do it," he said, adding, "Next year, it becomes a little bit more risky."
Odierno made it clear that the longer it took to make the decision, the less likely the US is to intervene.
"If you ask me today, we have forces that can go. I think it will change over time because the longer we go canceling training and reducing our training, the readiness levels go down," he said.
Odierno also praised FSA rebels, the majority of whom have pledged allegiance to and are being led by Al-Qaeda terrorists, for their fighting capabilities and said it was not a matter of if but when they claimed victory.
"I think from what I've seen is they have made some significant gains. I think they are controlling the territory. It makes you think that, you know, it's going to be difficult for the regime over time to survive," Odierno said.
However, recent victories by Assad's forces, including the re-taking of central areas of Homs, are being seen by some as a reason for the west's increased urgency to arm rebel fighters.
Odierno acknowledged the presence of terrorists amongst the FSA ranks, but attempted to downplay their role as comparatively minor.
"With the rebels, we do know there's some terrorists in there," he said. "Obviously, we don't want them to be involved in the outcome, we don't want them to gain power because of the impact they could have on the rest of the region -- regionally and then potentially internationally."
As the White House prepares to arm militants with heavy weaponry, the US Army and the Obama administration's support for opposition fighters has puzzled many who point out that the FSA rebels are primarily comprised of sectarian extremists and jihadists who have repeatedly made it clear that they view America as a sworn enemy.
Rebels have been routinely caught ransacking Christian churches, burning US flags, chanting anti-American slogans and singing the praises of Osama Bin Laden as they glorify the 9/11 attacks, while also espousing their desire to fly the Al-Qaeda flag over the White House.
The administration has already sent well over half a billion dollars in aid to such groups, while the CIA has overseen "a secret airlift of arms and equipment" to rebels since early 2012, according to the New York Times.
Appetite amongst the America public for for yet another US-led war is noticeably lackluster. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 10 per cent supported military intervention in Syria while 61 per cent opposed getting involved. Even if President Bashar Al-Assad's forces used chemical weapons (the only reliable evidence suggests such weapons have actually been used by rebels), the figure favoring intervention remains at just 27 per cent.