With tensions continuing to escalate between Western powers and Syria following last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack by the government of Bashar Assad, Latino military veterans weighed in on the crisis with many in support of a U.S.-led air strike as long as the nation and international community back it.
Latinos make up a growing percentage of the U.S. Armed Forces, with 12.3 percent of all active duty enlisted members being of Hispanic origin.
President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday that American retaliation for Syrian chemical weapons use would send a "strong signal," as U.S. intelligence officials readied briefings for Congress on evidence aimed at linking last week's attack to Assad's government.
“The strike would send a very strong and clear message that the use of weapons of mass destruction (chemical warfare) is not going to be tolerated by the international community,” Xiomara Sosa, an Air Force and Army veteran who previously worked in the Pentagon told Fox News Latino in an email.
Along with the U.S., both the United Kingdom and France are lobbying for action to be taken against the Syrian government.
"If any action would be taken against Syria it would be an international collaboration," U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterated Thursday.
Some Latino veterans praised the U.S.’s reticence into making any drastic moves in Syria and waiting for a response from other allied nations. The U.S. public is generally considered war weary following the lengthy campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan and politicians in Washington are hesitant to become involved in another conflict in the volatile Middle East.
“You have to think about this as a chess game and try to look three or four moves down the line,” said Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, an Air Force veteran who served in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf War. “Washington is trying to get the feeling of the nation and the international community and make sure the country doesn’t enter into something they can’t escape. There has to be an end game.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said the legal conditions have been met for taking action against Syria, namely allegedly launching a chemical attack against civilians in a Damascus suburb last week. The British leader has been at the forefront of calls for action, but his push is expected to be slowed by objections from the opposition Labour Party and a standoff at the U.N.
Cameron's office released intelligence and legal documents meant to bolster the case that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian government and that retaliation would be justified.
The French military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria if President Francois Hollande decides to do so, the defense minister said Thursday. But the chief of state, who met with the head of the Syrian opposition, stopped short of announcing military intervention over a suspected chemical weapons attack.
Hollande offered his political and humanitarian support for the Western-backed Syrian National Council, but said the group will only be a viable alternative to Assad if it has military credibility — and if the international community can stop the spiral of violence.
The military strike from the U.S. would likely come from the four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers within striking range of Syria in the Mediterranean – the Mahan, the Barry, the Gravely and the Ramage – and employ Tomahawk missiles to strike Syrian rocket and artillery sites. The proposed plan for strikes has not been made public, but some military analysts believe that the attacks could be a sustained effort similar to those launched by the Clinton administration in both Kosovo and Bosnia.
“This likely U.S. air campaign would last a few days and its mission will likely be to wreak havoc on Syria’s command and control facilities, air defenses and aircraft;” Sosa said. “I expect our military would be mission-focused and accomplish its mission with no problem.”
Domestically in the U.S., Latino veterans seem to overwhelmingly support the strikes as a way to hinder the Assad regime and as part of a humanitarian mission.
“The whole situation over there is going to get worse before it gets any better,” Carmello Figueroa, a retired Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, told Fox News Latino. “That’s why it’s important for the U.S. to do what it needs to be done to stop these attacks by weapons of mass destruction.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.