TODAY   |  August 28, 2013

Retired General: Military strike in Syria won’t make impact

Retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an expert in chemical warfare, tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that the current strike plan in Syria doesn’t “make much sense.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> retired four star general barry mccaffrey is an analyst and expert in chemical warfare . good to see you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> sources had been briefing reporters about our possible course of action against the syrian military. the weapons of choice and perhaps even the timing of it. what good comes of that? why are they doing that?

>> it's hard to say. it strikes me as very confused signaling of the political intent through military power . a strike on the syrian armed forces , which the white house has reassured them is not aimed at getting assad , not aimed at regime change , not aimed at changing the trajectory of the war, will not, in my view, have any impact on the survivalist instinct of assad , the revolutionary guards . it doesn't make much sense. if we gave the u.s. air force and navy 60 days to go after these people, we get their armed helicopters and aircraft and artillery.

>> let's talk about this scenario. we're hearing cruise missiles launched from ships in the gulf strike military targets like the air force , planes, commanding control and you're telling me that will not change the balance of power on the ground?

>> absolutely not. the country is half destroyed. 100,000 people have been killed. assad and 15% of the population believe they will be exterminate first degree they lose to the suni muslim part of the country. the b-2 bombers may be also, they're a hammer, they could make a big difference but in my judgment it would take multiple days of weeks to dramatically change the situation on the ground. you can't protect innocent civilians from aircraft.

>> let's be clear. what is prompting this potential military sx the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime against it's own people. yet, everybody says the chemical weapons deposits or supplies are off the target list so no way an attack like this can prevent assad from using chemical weapons in the future.

>> that's right. they get distributed by aircraft or fired by rockets. you have to go after the commanding control. we're doing this without congressional authorization, u.n. approval, or for that matter, a broad consensus among the arab league . will they be with us? will we see suni, muslim, egyptian and saudi aircraft involved in this operation? i doubt it.

>> we'll wait to see what happens perhaps in the next 24 hours . general, thank you very much.

>> good to be with you, matt.