U.S. Navy photo shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. Photo by AP
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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Photo by AP

The Pentagon has provided Congress with the first list of detailed options for military intervention in Syria, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The scenarios were presented in a letter by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and enumerate that strikes on Syrian military targets will costs billions of dollars.

As reported in the New York Times, Dempsey wrote that "long-range strikes on the Syrian government’s military targets would require 'hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers'” and cost 'in the billions.'”

This is the first time that the Pentagon has explicitly laid out the challenges facing the U.S. in its efforts at intervening in the two-year long Syrian civil war. They reflect General Dempsey's acknowledgement that Syrian President Bashar Assad is not necessarily going to be ousted anytime soon.

The options include "efforts to train, advise and assist the opposition; conduct limited missile strikes; set up a no-fly zone; establish buffer zones, most likely across the borders with Turkey or Jordan; and take control of Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile."

In Dempsey's letter, he enumerates that training and assisting opposition forces alone could cost up to $500 million a year. An offensive that includes limited long-range strikes could cost billions of dollars over time, and the enforcement of a no-fly zone, that require "shooting down government warplanes and destroying airfields and hangars" could reach $1 billion a month.

"All of these options would likely further the narrow military objective of helping the opposition and placing more pressure on the regime,” General Dempsey wrote in his letter. But he added: “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

A decision to use force “is no less than an act of war,” General Dempsey wrote, warning that “we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.”