The Pentagon has reportedly known for over a year that it would take at least 75,000 ground troops to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.
Secretary of State John Kerry insisted on Tuesday and Wednesday while testifying before committees in the House and Senate, respectively, that there would be no American “boots on the ground” in Syria if Congress grants President Barack Obama authorization to use military force. However, an August 20, 2013 report from the Congressional Research Service cited a CNN report that estimated the number of troops that would be needed in Syria, which came from “a secret memorandum the U.S. Department of Defense prepared for President Obama in early 2012.”
A Department of Defense official with knowledge of the report told The Daily Mail Wednesday that the “U.S. Central Command arrived at the figure of 75,000 ground troops as part of a written series of military options for dealing with Bashar al-Assad more than 18 months ago.”
“The report exists, and it was prepared at the request of the National Security Advisor’s staff,” the official told the paper. “DoD spent lots of time and resources on it. Everyone understood that this wasn’t a pointless exercise, and that eventually we would be tasked with going and getting the VX and sarin, so there was lots of due diligence.”
On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution giving Obama authorization to use force but did not authorize “the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”
On Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry refused to take the “boots on the ground” option off the table for the purpose of securing chemical weapons stockpiles, an action that may not be ultimately defined as “combat operations.”