Chuck Hagel

The US Department of Defense (Dod) will deploy an army headquarters unit to assist Jordanian armed forces in safeguarding their border with Syria, US defence secretary Chuck Hagel has revealed.

Reporting to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hagel said the contingent would bolster efforts of a small US military team that has been working to prevent the spillover of Syrian chemical weapons and violence across Jordanian borders since late 2012.

"Personnel will continue to work alongside Jordanian armed forces to improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios," Hagel said.

The US military and its interagency partners are providing training and equipment to Amman to detect any chemical weapons transfers along Jordan’s border with Syria, and also to develop the country’s capacity to identify and secure chemical weapons assets.

"US personnel will continue to work alongside Jordanian armed forces to improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios."

Valued at around $70m, the initiatives form part of the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) cooperative threat reduction programme, which also includes the provision of support to Turkey, Iraq and other Syrian neighbours to counter threats posed by the regime’s chemical weapons.

Updating on the Syrian crisis, Hagel said the Pentagon is currently engaged in robust military planning with allies and partners for a range of contingencies involving Syria, and is strategically positioned in the region.

However, the defence secretary did warn Congress against direct US military intervention in the Syrian conflict, saying the move could bring the country into a broader regional conflict or proxy war.

Calling a negotiated, political transition through further isolation of the Assad regime and support to the Syrian opposition coalition as the best outcome for the country, Hagel also noted the provision of $117m funding in non-lethal assistance, including communications and medical equipment to the coalition.

As well as offering $385m for alleviation of humanitarian crisis, the US has also helped more than one million Syrian refugees who have migrated to neighbouring countries since the crisis began in 2012.

Image: US defence secretary Chuck Hagel. Photo: courtesy of Monica A King.

Defence Technology