The strategy of President Barack Obama’s administration for combating the Islamic State depends on training a large force of moderate Syrian rebels capable of defeating the militants on the ground. At least for now, the Islamic State can breathe easy: After months of work and millions of dollars spent, U.S. officials say they’ve only managed to bring in a grand total of 60 such fighters for training.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter surprised many lawmakers during a Senate hearing Tuesday when he shared the stunningly small figure, in part because defense officials had previously said that 90 fighters had passed through a rigorous vetting process and were being trained by American troops at a facility in Jordan. In his remarks Tuesday, Carter didn’t address the discrepancy.
“That’s an awfully small number,” Carter admitted, explaining that the 7,000 Syrian recruits who have volunteered for the training program still have to be put through a screening and vetting process to ensure that they don’t pose a threat to their U.S. trainers and that they’re on board with the plan to fight the Islamic State, as opposed to the regime in Damascus.
Full story at Foreign Policy