United States Special Operations Command
Topic - The question of Syria
Current Date: April 2nd of 2013
Combatant Commands (COCOM’s) originated from the necessity that emerged after World War II to coordinate army forces and for better intercommunication, as well as focusing on geographical commands and functional special commands, due to the need of adopting a foreign policy not based anymore on isolationism but on trying to hamper communism worldwide. There are nine COCOMs subordinated to the President and the Secretary of Defense, of which six are geographical commands and the other three are functional commands, being the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) a functional one (COLE et alia, 2003).
USSOCOM was created in 1984 by the Department of Defense along with Congress after the continuity of failures involving certain special operations. This command has the role of safeguarding US interests, developing special operations strategies and acting on unconventional and irregular engagements such as terrorism and foreign internal defense (FEICKERT, 2013).
Image 1 – Sea, Air, Land operation of USSOCOM.
Today, April 2nd of 2013, given the alarming situation in Syria, upon request by President Obama's administration, this Command shall discuss the situation and suggest courses of action to be taken on the matter.
Syria has been ruled by the Ba’ath Party since 1963, and, shortly afterwards, Hafez Assad managed a coup d’état and entitled himself President – still representing the Ba’ath party – from 1970 to the day of his death in 2000. But his death did not stop the family Assad from ruling Syria, and by this means the President position was inherited by his son Bashar Al’ Assad, whose loyal forces still guarantee his survival in power. During the authoritarian presence of Assad’s family in the Syrian government, many accusations regarding the abuse of human rights against the population were, and still are, being raised, most of them concerning lack of freedom of expression, of religion, of peaceful protest and even the constant advent of political repression (STANTON, 2012).
The situation in Syria worsened in March 2011, when, due to a peaceful protest, a group of teenagers was imprisoned for writing political criticism graffiti. This fact fomented manifestations that were restrained which caused the death of dozens of Syrians by the police culminating, in the long run, in a hostile environment of civil war (“SYRIA…”, 2014).
Image 2 – People injured during an explosion in Damascus.
The proportion that this civil war has taken culminated in the discomfort and preoccupation of all the international community, firstly because this hostile environment is overflowing at a regional level, bringing danger and threatening other populations, and second because there is an increase in the violation of human rights inside Syria (UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, 2014). Additionally, there are rumors that chemical weapons are being used by Assad’s forces against the opposition forces, although there are no official statements.
We ought to bear in mind that many attempts in solving the problem were made by the United Nations Security Council, all of them without expressive results. In fact, two draft resolutions on the matter, from October 2011 and February 2012, were vetoed by China and Russia. In addition, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) preferred to keep a certain distance from the Syrian civil war, although expressing its concern on the matter (GLOBAL CENTER FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT, 2012).
Henceforth, the main questions to be debated at USSOCOM are going to revolve around this primary goal: how to bring back stability to the region in a way that will benefit the United States and its allies’ interests. By this means, the 16 representatives will have to orchestrate two Plans of Action – Psychological Operation and Covert Operation – respecting the hierarchy among them. For that, themes most likely to be discussed during the Command are the following: the influence of American political power in the winning side; the threat of an extremist religious party ruling Syria; the usage of chemical weapons; the importance of US neutrality from the eyes of the international community; the escalation of the humanitarian crisis; and, consequently, the expressive migratory flow to neighboring countries.
COLE, Ronald H; POOLE, Walter S; SCHNABEL, James F; WATSON, Robert J; WEBB, Willard J. The History of the Unified Command Plan: 1946-1999. Washington: Joint History Office, 2003.
FEICKERT, Andrew. “The Unified Command Plan and Combatant Commands: Background and Issues for Congress”. In: Congressional Research Service. Washington: BiblioGov, 2013.
GLOBAL CENTER FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT. Timeline of the International Response to the Situation in Syria. New York: Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, 2012.
STANTON, Gregory H. Genocide and Mass Atrocities Alert: Syria. Virginia: Genocide Watch, 2012.
“SYRIA Civil War Fast Facts”. CNN Library - CNN News. February 24, 2014. Avaiable at: <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/meast/syria-civil-war-fast-facts/>. Acessed on: March 15, 2014.
UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES. “Syria Regional Refugee Response: Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal”. Regional overview, 2014.
Sources of images:
Image 1 - UNITED STATES SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND. Factbook. United States Special Operations Command Public Affairs, 2009. Available at: < http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/socom/factbook-2009.pdf>. Accessed on: May 21, 2014.
Image 2 - HAMILTON, Robert. “Graphic content: Damascus rocked with explosions”. The Baltimore Sun. May 10, 2012. Available at: <http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/2012/05/damascus-rocked-with-explosions-graphic-content-2/#5>. Accessed on: May 21, 2014.