“Secret War” Against Syria and Iran?

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 9 months ago

According to The Washington Note:

Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.

Adding fuel to the speculation is that U.S. forces today raided an Iranian Consulate in Arbil, Iraq and detained five Iranian staff members. Given that Iran showed little deference to the political sanctity of the US Embassy in Tehran 29 years ago, it would be ironic for Iran to hyperventilate much about the raid.

But what is disconcerting is that some are speculating that Bush has decided to heat up military engagement with Iran and Syria — taking possible action within their borders, not just within Iraq.

Is this so strange?  To begin with, the doctrine of dual containment has been in effect since the Clinton administration.

The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.

Given the state of affairs then and even more so now, it would be irresponsible for the U.S. not to have such doctrine and plans.

But if true, this would follow in line closely with what I suggested in The Broader War: Redefining our Stratety for Iraq.  After calling for an air strike on Syria to remove the propaganda equipment being used by the Iraqi insurgents, I stated:

As a “going forward? strategy, incursions into Syria must be made in order to kill terrorists and deny them safe haven. The border must be absolutely secured with both Syria and Iran, including even incidental traffic. Based on my intelligence source cited above, only after the borders have been secured can we begin to treat Iraq as a nation even roughly amenable to standard COIN doctrine.

The objective is not total war, but rather:

  • intimidation
  • regime destabilization
  • denial of safe haven for insurgents, and ultimately
  • fomenting of regime change

A large scale land war is neither necessary nor even possible.  Given the healthy skepticism by officers concerning the proposed troop “surge,” it is doubtful that such a thing is being planned, and even more doubtful that it could succeed.

But what can succeed is the use of air and naval power, along with incursions by ground forces to accomplish the four points discussed above.  Are there enough infantry to pull this off?

Probably not to any significant extent, at least at the present.  It will require one of two things.  More troops in the pipeline (i.e., an increased in the size of the Army and Marines), or a drastic reduction of the ratio of support to infantry, including those now in Iraq.  I have argued before that this ratio is bloated and needs to be readjusted, but whether it can be done in a timely enough manner to pull off the incursions suggested above, along with dealing with the violence soon to be manifested when we go after the Sadrists, is another issue.




You are currently reading "“Secret War” Against Syria and Iran?", entry #444 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Iraq,Syria,War & Warfare and was published January 12th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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