The $500 million U.S. military program designed to train and equip 3,000 Syrian rebels to fight ISIS by the end of this year has not only fallen short of those numbers, but it is failing miserably as only 60 so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels are currently being trained. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stated, “The number 60, as you all recognize, is not an impressive number. The number is much smaller than we hoped for at this point.” Well, thank you for pointing out the obvious and offering no solutions for this colossal waste of taxpayer money.
And is it any surprise that the U.S. program to train the Iraqi Security Force is also failing to meet its goals? There’s more on that failure at the end of this post.
McCain Not Impressed with Syrian Rebel Training Program Results
As we reported last week, Senator John McCain from Arizona, the U.S. Senate Arms Services Committee Chairman hammered the Obama Administration on its ISIS strategy wasn’t too optimistic in regards to this $500 million Syrian rebel training program either. When addressing Defense Secretary Ashton Carter during hearings on the military’s ISIS strategy McCain said, “I got to tell you that after four years, Mr. Secretary, that is not a very impressive number.”
While McCain’s statement – like Carter’s previous statement – pointed out the obvious, at least – unlike our Defense Secretary – he offered sound reasoning as to why this program is failing.
McCain Offers Reason Why Syrian Rebel Training is Failing
Senator John McCain stated his vote of non-confidence in this $500 million program when he said, “given the poor numbers of recruited and trained Syrian fighters thus far, I am doubtful we can achieve our goal of training a few thousand this year.” He also offered why he felt it was obvious that so-called “moderate” rebels weren’t willing to join the program to be trained and equipped to fight ISIS.
And McCain’s reasoning behind the failed efforts had nothing to do with the Islamic State terrorists, but instead with the Syrian President. He pointed out that the United States is not telling the Syrian rebels that the U.S. would protect these rebels from retaliatory attacks coming from Syrian President Assad’s regime if they took up arms to help the U.S. fight against ISIS.
McCain asked a poignant question during the hearings too which he received no answer. “Is that fair to these young men to say we are sending you in to fight ISIS only, and by the way, we will decide on the policy whether to defend you if you are barrel bombed?”
Iraq Training Program Also Failing to Meet Goals
During the same Senate Arms Services Committee hearing, it was also revealed that the U.S. training program for Iraqis was also failing to meet the goals laid out by the U.S. military. Both Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, testified regarding these failings during the hearing.
According to their testimony, the military projected 24,000 Iraqis would be trained by the end of this year. Currently, however, there have only been approximately 8,800 Iraqis trained for the Iraqi Security Force with another 2,000 Iraqis trained for counter-terrorism activities.