Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Senators: U.S. Forces at Risk Due to Syrian Chemical Weapons
First, it looked like we may get drawn into a conflict with a nuclear armed Iran. Even if the US and Iran do not directly exchange hostilities, Israel seems to have a far shorter level of what they will accept regarding Iran's nuclear program. While Iran remains less the impressed by Secretary Clinton's admonishments, we now the very real possibility of Syrian chemical weapons being used against US forces in the region.
According to Global Security, "the army was the best equipped of the three services, with over 4,100 Soviet-built tanks (including 1,000 of the advanced T-72's) and a formidable air defense system of SAM batteries and myriad antiaircraft guns and artillery. In 1987, Syria was scheduled to receive 500 new Soviet SS-23 ballistic missiles with a range of 500 kilometers. Syria was also reported to have begun producing its own chemical weapons, including nerve gases, with the capability to use the chemical agents in missile warheads. The Air Defense Command, within the Army Command, but also composed of Air Force personnel, numbered approximately 60,000. It served in twenty air defense brigades (with approximately ninety-five SAM batteries) and two air defense regiments. The Air Defense Command had command access to interceptor aircraft and radar facilities. Air defenses included SA-5 long-range SAM batteries around Damascus and Aleppo, with additional SA-6 and SA-8 mobile SAM units deployed along Syria's side of the Lebanese border and in eastern Lebanon, and short-range SS-21 surface-to-surface missiles with conventional warheads." Link
In addition to sarin and mustard gas, Syria also possesses biological agents that can be dispersed by missiles or rockets. Most open source reports seem to indicate either Iran or Russia supplied the weapons and agents to the Syrians.
What has to be remembered is with chemical and biological agents, a threat is as good as an attack. If US forces have to don protective gear, their movements will be hampered. Anyone who had to wear MOPP gear during the first Gulf War knows troops can only be in protective gear for so long before they become exhausted from dehydration. If US forces become entangled in a conflict with Syria involving chemical weapons, this will adversely impact our ability to deal with Iran.
I wonder how soon before the Department of Homeland Security starts issuing warnings about the possibility of chemical or biological agents being used against us here?