Militarily Significant

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Tuesday President Obama directed him to come up with a plan for a “militarily significant strike” that would deter the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad from ever using chemical weapons again. “We’ve assembled target packages in line with those objectives,” said Dempsey during the House Armed Services Committee’s Sept. 10 hearing. “We have both an initial target set and subsequent target sets should they become necessary,” he said. The strike would be “standoff” in nature, he said, meaning US manned assets would remain outside of the range of Syrian air defenses. The plan would “disrupt those parts of Assad’s forces directly related to the chemical attack of Aug. 21; degrade his means of chemical weapons delivery; and finally, degrade the assets that Assad uses to threaten his neighbors and to defend his regime,” said Dempsey. He assured the lawmakers the US military “has forces ready” to carry out an attack, if ordered, despite budget sequestration’s toll on readiness. “Because of the limited nature of the strike,” the risk of retaliation “is low,” he said. (Hagel-Dempsey written statement)