The second version of the Pentagon’s effort to train and equip Syrian rebels has trained less than 100 so far, despite millions of dollars allocated to the program.
Pentagon officials tried to justify the small number to The Washington Post saying the new program was training key leaders and specialized spotters, rather than large numbers of infantry troops. The first version of the program was a disaster, costing U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars and only yielding less than 200 fighters.
U.S. officials pointed at recent successful efforts to retake ISIS’s last remaining funnel to Europe, as a sign that the Pentagon’s proxy forces are doing well in Syria. Officials are trying to bolster local forces with one or two trained members who can direct U.S. airpower. Experts have criticized the Obama administration’s policy for only supporting forces which are dedicated to fighting the Islamic State, and not the Syrian regime.
Pentagon officials told The Washington Post they were trying to avoid the mistakes of the past train and equip program by limiting the amount of ammunition given to the fewer than 100 graduates. The Pentagon also hopes the nearly 300 U.S. special operations forces on the ground in Syria will be better able to monitor the U.S. funded rebels.
U.S. train and equip efforts have been marred by an astounding level of disfunction and incompetence. In September 2015 the first graduates of the U.S. train and equip program surrendered to Al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabat Al Nusra. The Syrian rebels also turned over millions of dollars in U.S. provided weaponry, significantly bolstering Al Qaida’s firepower. Worsening the situation for the U.S. 12 Pentagon provided four wheel vehicles mounted with machine guns were also turned over to the terrorist group.
The New York Times revealed this week CIA weapons intended for Syrian rebels were being sold on the black market by corrupt Jordanian intelligence officials. Some of these weapons were used by a Jordanian terrorist to kill american citizens in November 2015.
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