How's that training program to create the Great Non-jihadi Rebel Hope in Syria?
Just "four or five" U.S.-trained anti-ISIS forces are currently in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, a top American military official told Congress Wednesday, despite a program that cost as much as $500 million. It is a staggeringly low number for a program where the Obama administration had initially planned to train 5,400 fighters a year.
To be fair, who could have predicted this failure? Wait. What?
[Our] approach to using rebels in Syria to fight ISIL is kind of a mess that could fall apart without having a focus on defeating Assad, too:
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel has castigated the US strategy in Syria in a memo to the White House, saying Washington must explain its intentions toward President Bashar al-Assad's regime. ...
Hagel warned that the Syria policy was "in danger of unraveling" due to confusion over the US stance toward Assad, the paper wrote.
Secretary of Defense Hagel seems to be evolving since his role as gutter of the Pentagon has been sidelined by actual wars that can't be "ended" via presidential speech.
His memo needs an answer under the circumstances:
The United States does not expect Syrian rebels it plans to train to fight Islamic State militants to also take on President Bashar al-Assad's forces, but sees them as a crucial part of a political solution to end the war, the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official as saying.
Asking Syrian rebels to die for a negotiated settlement with Assad is folly. If we don't back rebel efforts to defeat Assad, there may be no acceptable rebels left by the time we get to the Syria part of our ISIL problem.
I've been confused about our assumption that we could get Syrian rebels to die for a deal with Assad, even before the ISIL explosion in northern Iraq:
I find it astounding that we think we can calibrate this military support to pressure Assad rather than to defeat Assad.
The rebels will take the support we give them, but they surely aren't willing to die for a power-sharing agreement in Geneva. They want to win.
Oh, right. I did.
You don't ask men to fight and die to increase the pressure on a murdering thug ruler to negotiate power sharing.
We asked Syrians to fight and die to increase the pressure on a murdering thug ruler to negotiate power sharing.
And we have 5--maybe--in the game right now. That's not a lot to lead from behind.
Meanwhile, people who want to hang Assad by his heels from a lamp post flock to join jihadis who ask men to fight and die to win.
And we're shocked that we have so few recruits yet ISIL and al Qaeda have so many.
UPDATE: A quantum leap!
Seventy five Syrian rebels trained by the United States and its allies to fight Islamic State have entered northern Syria since Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
With so few, it would be nice if we could hide their entry to give them a fighting chance to survive.