Summary found here: http://www.military.com/news/article/leaked-memo-says-us-sof-in-syria.html
Leaked Memo Says US SOF in Syria
March 09, 2012Military.com| by Bryant Jordan
U.S. Special Operation Forces reportedly have been in Syria since December training groups to conduct guerrilla attacks and assassinations to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a leaked Stratfor memo published by WikiLeaks.
But Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory suggested the memo warranted being read skeptically.
"I would say that the [Stratfor] email -- and I cannot comment on its authenticity due to the method in which [it was received] -- seems to be pure conjecture," Gregory said.
The claim of American Spec Ops Forces operating in Syria is made in an internal email dated Dec. 7, 2011, from an official at Stratfor, a Texas-based private intelligence-gathering company.
The writer -- whose email reportedly belongs to the company's director of analysis, Reva Bhalla -- recounts a Pentagon meeting where officials "said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces."
An Air Force intelligence officer told him that there isn't a viable "Free Syrian Army" to actually train right now, but that steps are being taken out of "prudence."
"They have been told to prepare contingencies and be ready to act within 2-3 months, but they still stress that this is all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation," the writer states. "I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air camapign [sic] to give a Syrian rebel group cover. They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea 'hypothetically' is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within. There wouldn't be a need for air cover, and they wouldn't expect these Syrian rebels to be marching in columns anyway." (Alawite is a minority branch of Islam to which the Assad family belongs.)
Last year, a U.S. Army two-star general said that special operators have been in the Middle East since the "Arab Spring" started, but their mission was to keep volatile situations from getting worse. "We also keep a close eye on and can't ignore the other unstable regions in the world, and you've seen them in the mix here recently, too -- Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan," Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said during a breakfast meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army's Land Warfare Institute. "And if we don't address those now, we'll have to deal with it later and probably have to commit a larger effort to that.
"So I can tell you that just about any place you see things happening on the news we've got Army Special Operations forces there, and they're doing a variety of different things to hopefully prevent and deter these things from getting worse."
Fuller declined to provide copies of the briefing slides he showed the group at the breakfast or further elaborate on the missions when questioned by Military.com.
"I'm not going to tell you exactly where our people are or aren't," he said. "I'll say that if it's important to this nation we've probably got guys there. They may not be there now but they've been there or they're going."
Lt. Col. Gregory told Military.com that he could not respond to Fuller's remarks because he does not have the full context surrounding them. He also said that DoD does not provide information on Special Operations deployments.
The leaked Stratfor memo comes at a time when the Obama administration and the Pentagon are trying to resist pressure from members of Congress to intervene militarily in Syria, where Assad's forces have so far killed at least 7,500 people, according to the U.N., including innocent civilians.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came under fire by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Wednesday for the administration's cautious approach on Syria.
"How many more people have to die?" McCain asked. "Ten thousand?"
The U.S. must lead the world toward an end to the crisis, he said.
During the same Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon has begun early work drawing up "options" for a military campaign against Syria, but insisted that force should be the last option for ending the bloodshed and that the U.S. must not act alone.
"We can do anything," Dempsey said. "It's not about 'can we do it,' It's the question of 'should we do it,' and what are the opportunity costs elsewhere."
Publicly, the White House has tried to keep American military personnel as far from the various Arab Spring uprisings as possible.
President Obama insisted that the U.S. assume only a supporting role in Libya last year after the initial cruise missile and bombing assaults were conducted to keep Moammar Gadhafi's troops away from besieged rebel areas.
The only known instance of American combat troops on the ground in Libya was a mission to rescue a downed pilot last March 21. Marines belonging to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune, N.C., rushed inland from the USS Kearsarge aboard two MV-22 Ospreys after an Air Force pilot was forced to punch out of his F-15 Strike Eagle.
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