General In Charge Of "Total Failure" Syrian "Train And Equip" Program Gets Promotion
The US effort to train and equip Syrian freedom fighters battling to bring democracy to Damascus and usurp a brutal dictator has been a smashing success (count the instances of sarcasm there).
Take ISIS for example. The Pentagon knew that the opposition groups the West and its regional allies were supporting could morph into something beyond anyone’s control. Recall the following passage from a secret DoD document dated 2012: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” Well, the situation did “unravel” and sure enough, one group of former “freedom fighters” metamorphosed into a band of sword-wielding, black-flag waving desert bandits who did indeed establish a Salafist Principality in eastern Syria with a “capital” at Raqqa.
And while that surely takes the top spot on the list of “most absurd outcomes from US meddling in Syria” a close second was this year’s “train and equip” program run by the Pentagon.
This was a separate program from those run by the CIA (which supports the Free Syrian Army that’s now under siege by Russia and Iran) and the aim was to appropriately “vet” as many as 5,400 anti-ISIS (supposedly) fighters by the end of the year.
The embarrassments began in earnest in July when the group (which numbered barely more than 50 at the time) had its commander and deputy kidnapped by al-Qaeda, who had already played spoiler to another group of US fighters in 2014.
But the real punchline came last month when, in an update to Congress, Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. Central Command and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth admitted that only “four or five” fighters from the train and equip program remained in battle.