2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pushes Syria strike

Published: September 3, 2013, 3:35 pm, by Tom Roeder

Chuck Hagel, Dick Durbin, Patrick LeahyDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel leaned on Congress to OK a strike on Syria Tuesday, claiming that the threat of chemical weapons proliferation justified attack.

“This risk of chemical weapons proliferation poses a direct threat to our friends and partners and to U.S. personnel in the region,” Hagel said. “We cannot afford for Hezbollah or any terrorist group determined to strike the United States to have incentives to acquire or use chemical weapons.”

If the U.S. hits Syria, forces from Colorado Springs will play a big role.

In addition to a 4th Infantry Division brigade deployed to Kuwait, Fort Carson also has special operations troops who could play a key role.

The 10th Special Forces Group spent years working with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, helping them stand up to Saddam Hussein. That and an ongoing role in the Iraq war gave the Fort Carson green berets expertise in the region and language skills that would be key if we launch an operation to track down and destroy the chemical weapons.

While President Barack Obama has said he wants a limited strike without “boots on the ground”, that’s a long way from ruling out the use of special operations troops.

Green Berets have participated in covert warfare for generations, including teams that have helped target enemy forces for Air Force strikes.

Even with no U.S. troops on foreign soil, forces in the Pikes Peak region would have a massive role in a strike on Syria.

Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases are essential hubs for the military’s network of satellites that would handle communications, navigation and targeting of almost any conceivable attack.

U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace defense Command would play defense before during and after a strike, watching for conventional and terrorist threats against the continent.

Getting Congress to sign off on an attack, though, will take time. Congress isn’t expected to reconvene until Sept. 9, and getting a resolution through could take days longer.