Friday, July 19, 2013

Eyeing Syria, U.S. Paratroopers Rehearse Seizure of Chemical Arms



Eyeing Syria, U.S. Paratroopers Rehearse Seizure of Chemical Arms


July 19, 2013


A drill involving about 4,000 paratroopers and 95 tons of air-dropped gear

offered a dramatic preview of one possible U.S. action to seize control of

chemical warfare stocks in Syria, CBS News reported on Friday.


Members of the 82nd Airborne Division took over an airstrip and staged a

helicopter offensive on a mock chemical weapons storage facility as part of

the practice maneuvers in North Carolina.


"Chemical weapons are not something we've encountered in the last 10 years

of counterinsurgency," division chief Maj. Gen. John Nicholson said. "So

there's many dimensions to the issue of securing chemical stockpiles that

we're working through right now."



"We want to minimize the risk to our paratroopers ... and then how do we

deal with the potential hazards to the locals in that area, to the

civilians," he said.


The U.S. military brass has briefed President Obama on multiple potential

methods of armed intervention in Syria's civil war, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said in remarks quoted on Thursday by the

London Telegraph. Options include launching missiles at chemical arms sites

and other government assets, as well as enforcing aircraft restrictions or

deploying land forces.


Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday vowed to hold up Dempsey's

confirmation to a new two-year term because the top military officer

declined to provide his personnel assessment of whether U.S. attacks in

Syria are warranted. Dempsey deferred to "elected officials" on the matter,

the New York Times reported.


British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond suggested the United Kingdom could

deploy military personnel in the hundreds to secure Syrian chemical arms,

the London Daily Mail reported on Thursday.



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