Nightly News   |  September 02, 2013

U.S. military strategy ready ahead of possible Syria strike

The nation is ready to act if congress approves President Obama’s plan to strike Syria. Some military resources already have been deployed. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>>> whether or not congress moves forward with the president's plan of attack , u.s. military preparations are well underway. and syrian president assad himself weighed in today. we have reports from jim miklaszewski at the pentagon and jim maceda at the syrian border. at the pentagon, jim, what can you tell us?

>> reporter: natalie, even as president obama backed off those missile strikes against syria, plan for this labor day weekend , the u.s. military has turned up the heat. the u.s. aircraft carrier "nimitz" and part of its battle group , a guided missile cruiser and three guided missile destroyers , slipped into the red sea overnight. the carrier would only serve as possible backup for any attack on syria. but the cruiser and destroyers could fire off missiles at syrian targets if moved into the mediterranean. five u.s.- guided missile destroyers and at least one submarine remain in the eastern med. each armed with up to 50 cruise missiles loaded with 1,000-pound warheads. if president obama wins congressional approval, it appears the targets would remain the same. command and control bunkers for key chemical weapons commands but not the chemical weapons themselves. strikes would instead be aimed at weapons that deliver the deadly chemicals. rockets, artillery, and planes. but regime change would not be the goal, and syrian president bashar al assad would not be a target. critics argue that may only embolden assad.

>> what if he follows two days later with another chemical strike? then what? do we continue to escalate?

>> reporter: well, the delay in strikes does give the military time to disperse weapons. the u.s. military is constantly updateding its targ the list and using it to fine-tune the original strike plan. in the end, military officials acknowledge if the strikes remain limited in duration and scope, the outcome may prove ineffective with or without congressional approval. jim miklaszewski , nbc news, the pentagon.