The Department of Defense presented Congress with its options and analysis for military intervention in the Syrian Civil War. The plans would cost billions of dollars and could lead to increasing instability in the region.

The Pentagon has provided Congress with its first detailed list of military options to stem the bloody civil war in Syria, suggesting that a campaign to tilt the balance from President Bashar al-Assad to the opposition would be a vast undertaking, costing billions of dollars, and could backfire on the United States.

The list of options — laid out in a letter from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin of Michigan — was the first time the military has explicitly described what it sees as the formidable challenge of intervening in the war.

The Obama Administration has already been arming Al Qaeda linked rebels in Syria. But that assistance is supposed to be limited to small arms and restore some balance between Assad and rebel forces.

The options, which range from training opposition troops to conducting airstrikes and enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria, are not new. But General Dempsey provided details about the logistics and the costs of each. He noted 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.”…

“Thousands of Special Operations forces and other ground forces would be needed to assault and secure critical sites,” he wrote, with costs well over $1 billion a month.

So much for austerity. No money for food stamps or student loan relief but plenty to aid Al Qaeda?

Senator John McCain and Representative Mike Rogers both expressed dismay at the plans presented by General Dempsey. They seemed to want a more rosy scenario presented. Dempsey said intervention in Syria “could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.” Nonetheless McCain and Rogers still want more intervention.

It seems some in Congress have learned nothing from the Iraq experience.