The United States is dispatching Army planners to Jordan as neighboring Syria's conflict worsens, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week, but signaled deep misgivings about direct American military intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Hagel told a Senate hearing that the United States has an obligation to think through the consequences of any US military move in Syria and be honest about potential long-term commitments.
His comments were the latest indication that while President Barack Obama's administration continues to plan for various scenarios in Syria, it remains wary of an intervention that could mire America in a proxy war.
“You better be damn sure, as sure as you can be, before you get into something. Because once you're into it, there isn't any backing out, whether it's a no-fly zone, safe zone -- whatever it is,” Hagel told Senators.
“Once you're in, you can't unwind it. You can't just say, “Well, it's not going as well as I thought it would go so we're gonna get out.”
Hagel said the Pentagon was sending an Army headquarters unit to Jordan, bolstering efforts started last year to plan for contingencies related to Syria's chemical weapons and to prevent a spillover of violence across Jordan's border.
A US official told Reuters that the total number of American planners in Jordan would remain roughly at 200 because an existing team is largely being withdrawn.
Still, the deployment of the headquarters unit - which could theoretically command combat troops - was seen as an enhancement over the previous ad hoc team of planners, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In Amman, a Jordanian official said the team would “increase the level of preparedness and defense capabilities in light of the continued deterioration in the Syrian situation.”