Analysis of Military Options for Intervention in Syria

  • Lieutenant Colonel Gregory P. Haynes

The civil war in Syria is well into its third year with no end in sight. There is a very real possibility of the conflict spreading beyond Syria’s borders to engulf the entire region in a catastrophic war. Due to the chaotic and externally influenced nature of the situation, a diplomatic solution to the crisis in the near term appears to be highly unlikely. Moreover, the situation indicates that military intervention would likely require a sustained effort of some kind to have a serious chance at achieving suitable results toward any kind of acceptable resolution and, in the effort, preserving overall U.S. credibility. Yet the intensity of U.S. interests or an overall plan for employment of U.S. military force to achieve credible ends that serve those interests has not been effectively communicated to the American public. In the current U.S. environment of declining defense spending, economic viability concerns, and overall popular strategic skepticism, a significant strategic communication effort and a potential fundamental re-assessment of global priorities could well be necessary to achieve and/or sustain both feasibility and acceptability for the intensity and duration of any suitable military option chosen, even for protracted stand-off operations.