Two destroyers of the US Navy armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles are in position and ready to take action, among other assets, including aircraft and submarines, if President Donald Trump fulfills his threat to order a military attack on targets in Syria.
Trump surprised most of his advisers and the Pentagon with guard down Wednesday by declaring on Twitter that “good, new and smart” missiles would soon be fired at Syria, an announcement that came before an agreement between the main parties was reached. Allies of the United States said multiple US and Western officials.
Senior military officials were at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to discuss options for Syria, according to advisers, and a decision had not yet been made on how to respond to the weekend’s chemical attack when Trump brought the issue to Twitter,t sources close to the fact said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted on Wednesday that a missile strike remains one of the many options on the table and said the president’s tweet does not complicate the planning of a US response.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Wednesday that the United States “is still evaluating intelligence” about the recent chemical attack, but noted that the US military is on hold if Trump gives the order for an attack.
“We are ready to provide military options if they are appropriate as determined by the president,” he said.
Mattis also ignored a question about whether he was worried about the disclosure of US military movements in Syria, a question that seems to refer to Trump’s earlier twit on Wednesday.
Did Trump give many details?
Trump’s tweet could force military leaders to modify their analysis related to “objectives, time and teamwork,” according to CNN military analyst John Kirby.
Satellites and other US intelligence aircraft closely monitor the signals that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, as well as Russian units, are using advance notice to get planes, weapons and personnel out of a possible attack.
However, warning of an imminent attack could force US military officials to modify their list of potential targets, which could range from airfields or chemical storage sites to locations in the backyard of Damascus in Assad, according to the message they want to carry.
“It is possible that the attack packages and the potential targets are adjusted according to what is seen on the ground,” Kirby said, noting that both the Russian and Syrian regimes have received many indicators about the type of attack the United States is considering.
Targeting air defence systems or places closer to Damascus would send a stronger message, but it would put more victims at risk and increase the chances of escalating the conflict, he added.
What arsenal is available?
In addition to having two destroying vessels nearby, it is possible that the United States also has unrecognized submarines off the coast of Syria ready to fire high-precision guided satellite-based Tomahawk cruise missiles, the very kind of smart missiles on which the president tweeted
“Do not rule out the possibility of submarines with Tomahawk capability in the region,” Kirby said. “It is not uncommon for them to be in the Mediterranean, and in the past, they have been used to attack targets in North Africa.”
The United States also has F-22 stealth jets parked in Qatar that could be used to evade Russian air defence systems manufactured by the Syrian regime, but the use of piloted aircraft poses a substantial risk as these systems are considered highly capable, Kirby said.
“Especially given the deterrent threats of Russian officials, the United States will hesitate to risk US pilots in these attacks and will most likely opt for long-range attacks of submarines or aircraft,” said Adam Mount, principal investigator and director of Defense. in the Posture Project in the Federation of American Scientists and former principal member of the Center for American Progress.
“New JASSM stealth missiles could be fired by B-1B and B-52 planes (and now probably F-15E and F-16),” said Mount.
“The JASSM do object recognition and guidance with infrared sensors, which makes them ‘new’ and ‘smart’,” he added. “The United States has developed a new generation of electronic warfare ammunition and decoys designed to help US attacks achieve their goals, that could also be seen in action.”
However, the United States expects French and British aircraft, as well as ships, to be part of the attacks, as both nations continue to weigh the possibility of a joint response.
CNN previously reported that Trump discussed possible options on Syria with the president of France Emmanuel Macron and the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May.
Source: Estados Unidos