March/April 2000

US Generals' Letter to Capitol Hill - No U.S. Aid to Syria

March 22, 2000

As American defense professionals, we view Middle East peace negotiations through the prism of American security interests. A secure, durable peace between Israel and Syria is much to be desired, and the United States has a key role to play. But credible reports of proposed American assistance to Syria should raise grave concerns for Americans.

We strongly believe:

The responsibility for securing the people of Israel belongs to the democratically elected government of Israel. No one else can determine the parameters of a secure Israel. However, the negotiations surrounding the Golan Heights have the potential to undermine regional security efforts that are important to the United States.

As American military professionals, we strongly oppose the rehabilitation of Syrian military capabilities.

Whether directly or through the provision of economic assistance that permits the Syrian government to spend its own limited resources on military equipment, the expansion or upgrading of Syrian forces would be a source of instability in the region. Syria's expanding relationship with Iran and Iraq, as well as its military relationship with North Korea and its harboring of terrorists that harass both Israel and Turkey, make it an unlikely candidate for a constructive relationship with the U.S. military.

Furthermore, we recall that the Department Of Defense Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act 10/23/83, in which 240 United States Marines were killed, reported:

"The only development which would seriously impede the terrorist activities...would be a decision by Syria to shut down the basing facilities in the Beka valley and sever the logistical pipeline... "Since at least indirect involvement in this incident by Syria and Iran is indicated, the Commission believes that the DOD definition (of terrorism) should be expanded to include States which use terrorism either directly or through surrogates…

"The Commission concludes that the 23 October 1983 bombing of the BLT Headquarters building was a terrorist act sponsored by sovereign states or organized political entities for the purpose of defeating U.S. objectives in Lebanon."

There is no indication that Syria has undertaken to advance the principles of liberty, democracy or the rule of law, or that it has abandoned its quest for ballistic missile technology and weapons of mass destruction. Rather, it appears that Syria is seeking a qualitative improvement in its military forces for purposes that are unlikely to advance Western interests in general, or American interests in particular.

We therefore hope the Government of the United States will refrain from offering Syria assistance that could be used in the upgrading or expansion of its military capabilities.


Dr. Stephen D. Bryen
Former Director, Defense Technology Security Agency*

Lt. Gen. Anthony Burshnick, USAF (ret.)
Former Vice Commander, Military Airlift Command

Lt. Gen. George R. Christmas, USMC (ret.)
Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs

Maj. Gen. Lee Downer, USAF (ret.)
Former Director of Operations, Air Combat Command

Admiral Leon Edney, USN (ret.)
Former Commander in Chief, Allied Forces NATO

Maj. Gen. Bobby Floyd, USAF (ret.)
Former Director of Logistics, Air Mobility Command

General John Foss, USA (ret.)
Former Commander, US Army Training and Doctrine Command

Lt. Gen. Ronald Hite, USA (ret.)
Director, Army Acquisition Corps

The Hon. Frank Hoeber
Former Member, General Advisory Cte. on Arms Control & Disarmament

Admiral Jerome Johnson, USN (ret.)
Former Vice Chief of Naval Operations

V. Admiral Dennis Jones, USN (ret.)
Former Deputy Commander in Chief, US Strategic Command

Ms. Phyllis Kaminsky
International Defense Consultant

Professor Michael Ledeen
Senior Associate, American Enterprise Institute

R. Admiral Fred Lewis, USN (ret.)
Former Commander Naval Doctrine Command

V. Admiral Steve Loftus, USN (ret.)
Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics

Maj. Gen. Jarvis Lynch, USMC (ret.)
Former Commander, Eastern Marine Recruiting Depot

Lt. Gen. Charles May, Jr., USAF (ret.)
Former Vice Chief of Staff, USAF

Maj. Gen. William C. Moore, USA (ret.)
Former Director for Operations, Headquarters, Department of Army

Lt. Gen. Robert Patterson, USAF (ret.)
Former Commanding General, Special Operations Command

Maj. Gen. Robert Rosenkrantz, USA (ret.)
Former Commander, US Army Test and Evaluation Command

General Crosbie Saint, USA (ret.)
Former Commander in Chief, US Army Europe

Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, USA (ret.)
Former Commanding General, JFK Special Warfare School, Ft. Bragg

General Lawrence Skantze, USAF (ret.)
Former Vice Chief of Staff, USAF

Admiral Leighton Smith, USN (ret.)
Former Commander, US Forces & NATO, Southern Europe

Admiral William D. Smith, USN (ret.)
Former US Representative to the Military Committee of NATO

Lt. Gen. Ted Stroup, USA (ret.)
Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, US Army

Maj. Gen. Larry Taylor, USMCR (ret.)
Former Commanding General, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing

Col. Bruce Williams, USA (ret.)
Former US Defense and Armed Forces Attach?, Israel

The Hon. R. James Woolsey
Former Director, Central Intelligence

*Former Command listed for identification purposes only

JINSA Letter

March 16, 2000

Re: American Aid to Syria

Dear Representative:

We, as representatives of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), urge Congress to ensure that the U.S. will take no action to enhance Syrian military capabilities unless and until Damascus undertakes to advance the principles of democracy and the rule of law, and abandons its quest for ballistic missile technology and WMD.

JINSA was established in 1976 with a dual mission: to educate the American Jewish community about key issues in American defense policy; and to encourage US-Israel security cooperation on the basis that a secure Israel is an asset upon which American military planners rely.

One of our principle beliefs is that the responsibility for securing the people of Israel belongs to the democratically elected government of Israel. Only Israelis can determine the parameters of a secure Israel.

However, as Americans, we have questions about the role the U.S. may be called upon to play in a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors, especially Syria. We then believe the American Flag and General Officers with whom we work – as well as our Advisory Board – can provide valuable insights into American security interests.

Attached is a statement signed by a number of prominent professionals who are concerned that the United States might offer aid to the Syrian government even as Syria remains an irridentist threat to American interests in the Middle East. It is their opinion that, "Syria is seeking a qualitative improvement in its military forces for purposes…unlikely to advance Western interests in general, or American interests in particular."

We strongly concur and would be happy to meet with you or your staff to discuss these issues further. Norman Hascoe, President
Tom Neumann Executive Director
Jonathan Kislak, Chairman of the Board
David P. Steinmann, Chairman Advisory Board

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