Last week, I wrote for Defense One that securing chemical weapons in Syria will require boots on the ground. As the talks between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov play out, it’s worth keeping in mind:
In the midst of a raging civil war, dismantling chemical weapons is practically impossible. “We’re talking boots on the ground,” a former United Nations weapons inspector from Iraq bluntly told the New York Times. “We’re not talking about just putting someone at the gate. You have to have layers of security.”
Secondly, the weapons must be either secured at the dozens of sites Assad now has, or they must be trucked to central locations for disposal — again, through a raging civil war. The only feasible way to keep those weapons out of the hands of militants or rogue elements within the Assad regime is — again — through troops.
Sending troops to Syria is fraught with political, diplomatic, and tactical peril. And literally every scenario for securing and dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons would require tens of thousands of troops. It is clear Russia would not support any UN sanction for deploying U.S. troops, and it is likely they would balk at a UN resolution authorizing an international force. That would leave Russian troops as the only option for securing these weapons. Is President Obama ready to sell that plan to the American people?