That said, Hagel reiterated that the Obama administration is "committed to working with the international community" regarding any possible military action taken in Syria.
“We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take,” Hagel said during a press briefing in Brunei on Tuesday.
Four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, armed with long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, are on station in the Mediterranean, awaiting further ordered from Washington.
USS Mahan, USS Gravely, USS Barry and USS Ramage are “poised and positioned should any options be taken,” a defense official told The Washington Times on Monday.
The proposed three days of strikes inside Syria could begin as early as Thursday, according to NBC News.
U.S. officials told NBC the strikes would be limited in scope, and are not designed to help rebel forces in the country overthrow embattled President Bashar Assad.
But congressional Republicans are demanding the White House seek lawmakers' approval before launching any military strike against Syria.
“I don’t think there’s any question in our administration’s mind that chemical warfare has been used," Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerPetraeus appointment could rankle wary FBI Haley to meet with senators during Washington trip Senate: Act now to save Ukraine MORE (R-Tenn), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, said Monday.
"I hope they come to Congress for an authorization at some point," he said during an interview on MSNBC.
"The President established a red line policy," House Armed Services Committee chief Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said. "I expect the Commander in Chief would consult with Congress in the days ahead as he considers the options available to him."
The strikes would be in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel forces by Assad's troops.
Administration officials said over the weekend they have “little doubt” that Assad's forces used poison gas.
According to opposition groups, the death toll from the attack stands at more than 1,000.
Use of those weapons crosses "red line" set by the Obama administration, which would trigger a U.S. military response.
American and allied officials strongly condemned the Assad regime's reported use of chemical weapons in a series of statements issued in recent days.
"Make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people," Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryAs Congress adjusts to Trump, Iran put under the pressure it deserves Sharpton pressures Dems on Trump nominees Words are not enough — US must support Christians who survived genocide in Iraq MORE said on Monday.
On Tuesday, French President François Hollande said France is “ready to punish” those behind the “chemical massacre” in Syria, according to recent reports.
France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Turkey have all recently issued public statements of support for any possible military action U.S. forces may take in Syria.