NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - 10 On Your Side has learned another Norfolk-based ship has been ordered to help shape the tip of the spear aimed at Syria.
A Defense official told WAVY News’ Art Kohn the USS Stout will be relieving one of the four Norfolk-based ships in the Mediterranean within striking distance of Syria. However, the Navy will keep all five warships on station for at least a little while.
The ships currently at sea in the region are the USS Mahan, the USS Ramage, the USS Barry and the USS Gravely. The defense official would not say which ship was going to be relieved or why, but there is good reason to believe it may be the USS Mahan because it was on it's way home from deployment before being redirected to respond to the crisis.
The USS Stout is manned by 33 officers, 38 chief petty officers, and 210 enlisted personnel. Multiply that by five, and you have about 1,405 Norfolk-based sailors in harm's way.
"I'm just struck by this as a Virginian," said Virginia Senator Tim Kaine on CNN Thursday morning. "We are the most connected to the military of any of the states in terms of our veteran population, the soldiers and sailors and air-men and women and marines who are here."
On CNN, Kaine said he believes the President needs to make his case for military action to both Congress and the American people.
"We shouldn't ask people to fight in a war unless they know that they've got the full weight of our political leadership behind them and the American public supports the mission," he said.
Although Kaine wants to hear the President make his case for a strike on Syria, unlike 4th District Congressman Randy Forbes and Congressman Rigell, Senator Kaine does not believe the War Powers Act would prevent the President from launching an emergency strike before going to Congress. He said the President would just have to go back to Congress for a vote after he took emergency action.
Appearing on FOX News Thursday morning, Forbes said he would not support a military strike on Syria, but would give the President an opportunity to make a case for it. He also expressed concern about an exit strategy for the U.S. if the Obama administration orders a military strike.
"I think that nobody can guarantee that this is going to be just a two-day conflict, as the President has talked about. We could be locked in for years in a conflict in Syria," Forbes said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his country will defend itself against any aggression. But, if the Obama Administration orders a strike on Syria, our local fleet may be fighting more than just the Assad regime. Russia has also dispatched warships to the region to bolster Syria's defenses -- but it's not the only country backing Assad.
"Iran indicated [Tuesday] if there was an effort by any outside party to take any steps against the Assad Regime, they'd contemplate military action against Israel...," Kaine told WAVY.com on Wednesday.
"This rattling of sabers in Syria takes us, our eye off the real ball which is Iran," Forbes said. "I think Iran is loving the fact that we're focusing on Syria."
U.N. inspectors are still focusing on finding conclusive evidence that Syria's regime did in fact use chemical weapons on its own people. The Secretary General said the U.N. may not have that evidence until Saturday or later, but if proved true, that, according to Kaine, would force the Obama Administration to take action.
"It is completely over the line for a government or any entity to use chemical weapons, and there has to be a consequence for it," Kaine said.
Congressman Rigell was able to get 118 of his colleagues in the House to sign a letter he sent to the President, urging him to lay out his strategy for Syria to the Congress before taking any military action. 18 Democrats signed on.
President Obama said he has not made a decision about a military strike, but his national security adviser and intelligence chief began briefing Congress via a teleconference Thursday evening. Others at the meeting included Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and senior White House officials.
Earlier Thursday evening, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote in Parliament endorsing military action against Syria.
Stay with WAVY.com and WAVY News 10 at 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. for updates on the President's meeting in Washington and the U.S.'s position on the crisis in Syria.
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