The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered effort had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.
Pentagon officials announced the end of the program on Friday, as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter left London after meetings with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, about the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq.
The closing of the program comes as the administration’s attention is shifting to northwestern Syria, where it hopes to assemble a group of Sunni tribes in a “Syrian Arab Coalition” to fight alongside Syrian Kurdish forces against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
To say the program was a failure would be an understatement:
The change makes official what those in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the administration have been saying for several weeks would most likely happen, particularly in the wake of revelations that the program at one point last month had only “four or five” trainees in the fight in Syria — a far cry from the plan formally started in December to prepare as many as 5,400 fighters this year, and 15,000 over the next three years.
Even Common Core math can easily figure the cost per fighter on that one.
It’s been nigh on impossible for the administration to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys in Syria, so they’ve taken a “hope these dudes are less awful” approach.
On the flipside, Russia knows exactly who it wants to back, and it’s making things even messier.