Inhofe: US cannot afford military action in Syria

Due to the $500 billion in budget cuts slated for the Pentagon over the next decade, the Obama White House "further undermines future military readiness and capabilities" to deal with the growing crisis in Syria and elsewhere in the world, according to Inhofe. 

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"I cannot support military action in Syria unless the President presents to Congress his broader strategy in the region that addresses our national security interests and the budget to support it," the Oklahoma Republican said in the statement. 

U.S. forces are expected to begin missile strikes against military targets in Syria in the coming days, in retaliation to the reported use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to embattled President Bashar Assad. 

The White House has warned that use of those weapons would cross a so-called "red line," triggering an armed response from U.S. and NATO forces. 

U.S. warships are already in station in the Mediterranean, off the Syrian coastline, awaiting orders from Washington. 

But the Defense cuts under sequestration, which went into effect in March, "has put us on the brink of a hollowed force," according to Inhofe. 

With another $52 billion set to come out of Pentagon coffers in fiscal 2014 under sequestration, the Defense Department is in no position, financially, to carry out military action in Syria. 

"Our troops are stretched thin, the defense budget has been slashed to historic levels, and we are facing an unprecedented time of unrest across the Middle East," Inhofe said. 

"No red line should have been drawn without the strategy and funding to support it," he added. 

Inhofe opposition to military action in Syria comes on the heels of Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) claims that the strikes would not serve any U.S. national security interests. 

"The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States, and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States,” Paul said.

Both senators sided with nearly 100 House members, including more than a dozen Democrats, who argue that President Obama would violate the Constitution if he does not get authorization from Congress before launching a military strike in Syria.

Aside from fiscal concerns, Inhofe warned the White House from taking action in Syria, without "thoroughly consulting" with partner nations in the region.  

"It is vital we avoid shortsighted military action that would have little impact on the long-term trajectory of the conflict," Inhofe said. 

"We can’t simply launch a few missiles and hope for the best," he added.