$500 Million “Syrian Rebels” Training Program Gets You… 60 Syrians?
by Scott Faith
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 15 July, 2015. But we’re still training Syrians… and we’re still failing to have any meaningful impact on the war in Syria.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced on Tuesday, June 7, 2015 that the United States had successfully trained sixty (60. That is Six-Zero, 60) Syrian rebels to take on the Islamic State. Once ISIS was defeated, this sixty-man force would then attack and defeat the Bashar al Assad regime backed by the Iranian government and Lebanese Hezbollah.
The US originally allocated $500 milion to train up to 5,400 moderate Syrian rebels per year, for three years, in order to take on the Islamic State whose fighters now number around 30K. They got 60. That’s a bargain price of around $8,333,333.33 per fighter.
The Pentagon is probably lucky to have that many. For political reasons, the vetting process for Syrian fighters is extensive, and any connection a potential recruit might have to Al Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front, the Khorasan Group, the Supporters of the Religion Front, the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, the Harakat Fajr ash-Sham al-Islamiya, the Harakat Sham al-Islam, the Ghuraba al-Sham, Fatah al-Islam, the Muhajirin wa-Ansar Alliance, Jund al-Aqsa, Liwaa al-Umma, Liwa al-Haqq, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Turkestan Islamic Party, Jaysh Omar, and/or the Islamic Muthanna Movement is grounds for exclusion from the program.
Also, of course, anyone with any kind of familial or business or friend of a friend connection to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, and the Jaysh al-Jihad is out.
As is anyone in Syria even remotely connected to the Bashar al Assad’s regime, including Syrian Armed Forces, the National Defence Force, Jaysh al-Sha’bi, Suqur al-Sahara, Liwa Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas, Badr Organization, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Peace Companies, the PFLP–GC, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the Jaysh al-Muwahhideen, the Forces of Abu Ibrahim, the Afghanistan Liwa Fatemiyoun, the Palestine Liberation Army, the Syrian Resistance, Ba’ath Brigades, Fatah al-Intifada, Liwa Al Quds, Arab Democratic Party, RPLP-F, Mavros Krinos, Sootoro, the Arab Nationalist Guard, Liwa Dhu al-Fiqar, the Jaysh al-Wafaa, Faylak Wa’ad al-Sadiq, the al-Berri clan, Tayy tribe militias, al-Jihesh tribe militias, Maghawir Forces, Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, and the Popular Committees.
So basically anyone with the motivation, ability, and training to fight is pretty much out.
Furthermore, if your brother, sister, cousin, second cousin, third cousin, second uncle once removed, your best friend’s sister, or father are in any way associated with any of these organizations, you’re of course disallowed from being supported by the US. In a country the size of Syria, that’s… pretty much everyone.
But now the Pentagon has the sixty fighters it needs to win the war.
What the Pentagon has done is like panning for gold. After sifting through thousands of useless, untrustworthy fighters, the Pentagon found sixty flakes of gold that will win the war all by themselves. Interestingly, the Pentagon has apparently trained these sixty Syrians so well they don’t need any kind of additional support once their training is finished. SecDef Carter has said the US has no intention of flying sorties against Bashar Al Assad’s forces when they begin attacking the Pentagon’s sixty fighters. There will be no Special Forces operators embedded with the Syrian rebels, and there are no real plans on arming them with anything other than light infantry weapons (rifles, pistols, butter knives, etc.).
Why? Because the sixty Syrians don’t need any additional support. They have a few months of US training, which is pretty much the same as a few decades with Shotokan masters in Japan, combined with five years of Krav Maga and a week at BUDS. Or maybe because the US decided to “give war a chance” in Syria after all.
The Pentagon seems confident that with its sixty Syrians it’ll have the war wrapped up by Christmas. It kind of makes the myth of the “300 Spartans” pale in comparison.