Higgins: These boots are made for walkingWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank goodness that Russia and the United State have come to a substantial agreement about dismantling the chemical weapons in Syria. With its agreement, Syria will now become a signatory of United Nations prohibitions against using weapons it never admitted it had, and surrender them without actually admitting it used them on its own citizens.
In return, President Barack Obama will quietly withdraw a request for permission that he was never going to get from Congress in response to their use, which no one wanted to look too closely at lest they discover that some of them had come across the border from Iraq during one of the previous administration’s foreign policy escapades and have to admit that they were there in the first place.
According to statements being released by press secretaries and state department representatives, with this historic agreement, no one need be concerned that “boots on the ground” will be required as a follow-up on a missile attack that was apparently designed to accomplish nothing other than to blow up $350 million of ordinance without making a regime chance or inflicting a civilian casualty. What a relief!
Wait a minute! These are, after all, chemical weapons whose components can only be destroyed properly by those with expert knowledge of such weaponry under the most exacting of conditions in specialized facilities and with a great deal of heat. Without delving too deeply into how the United States gained the awareness and ability for the destruction of such materials and the demolition of the sites that create them, I would suggest anyone who believes that those with such proficiency are not in uniform may already be committing significant abuse where modern chemistry is concerned.
As for their safe destruction — the last time I looked, the entire nation of Syria was a war zone occupied by multiple factions with no love for each other, let alone President Bashar al-Assad and his government. Now regardless of whether the agreeing parties have also reached peace amongst the disparate factions involved with this conflict (they haven’t) or are planning on imposing peace on the region by some means (no one’s said so), someone’s going to have to provide security, transport and disposal of these materials while the fighting is still going on. (Lest, heaven forbid, they should fall into the wrong hands.)
Regardless of what anyone in the administration, Congress or the press is peddling these days, if this task is truly going to be accomplished, a great number of U.S. personnel are going to have to place themselves in harm’s way as part of this process.
Construction engineers are going to have to build a disposal facility in that part of the world. (We probably have/had one in neighboring Iraq, but that nation’s gone to hell under recent foreign policy and those facilities may no longer be operable.) Security and transport will need to be provided from wherever the stockpiles have been most recently relocated (to protect them from Tomahawk cruise missiles) to wherever the disposal and remission sites end up. Ground forces will necessarily make up some part of that security if for no other reason than to protect convoys from IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and suicide bombers, along with their requisite supply and logistics services. Air cover will likewise need to be provided as part of that security, which because of the location means carrier deployment, use of Saudi air bases or both. Deployment of carriers will mean the further staging of a fleet of ships for support, logistics and fleet protection.
Based on current intelligence estimates of the size of stockpiles in Syria and even assuming that the warring parties currently occupying the space allow us to proceed, it’s likely undertaking such an operation will require “boots on the ground” for the rest of the decade at a minimum.
It was Lee Hazlewood that wrote “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” which Nancy Sinatra (Frank’s daughter) made famous in back in 1966. It won’t be go-go boots on the beach that we’ll be talking about in 2013 and beyond however, but combat boots once again deployed to march the sand in Middle Eastern deployment.