Tuesday December 18, 2018
Home World US spends $4 ...

US spends $4 million on each Syrian rebel fighting Islamic State

0
//
Rebel fighters gather along a street in the town of Babolin in Idlib countryside after retaking it from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad April 4, 2014. Islamist rebels in Syria have retaken a northern town on the main north-south highway from President Bashar al-Assad's forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday. The monitoring group said rebels killed 18 soldiers and disabled two tanks in the fight for the town of Babolin, part of an offensive along a stretch of the highway which links Damascus to the northern city of Aleppo. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR3JZ3Y
Republish
Reprint

tumblr_inline_n7t6onDvmj1qij8k6

By NewsGram Staff Writer

US trained Syrian rebels have been fighting the Islamic State head on ever since the Obama administration came to power. But how much does the United States spend on training the force of 60 Syrian rebels who battle the Islamic State?

According to revelations made in Politico.com, about $4 million has been spent on each of the Syrian soldier.

“Congress had approved $500 million for training program last year, with a goal of training about 3,000 vetted Syrian rebels this year,” suggests the Congressional Research Service.

“About half of the $500 million has been obligated thus far, mostly on equipment required to train the Syrian fighters,” said a congressional aide who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Of the $500 million requested last year for the “train-and-equip” program, roughly half has been spent. The whopping amount provides fresh salvo for Republican critics of President Barack Obama’s strategy for dealing with ISIL, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday blasting the Syria plan as “delusional.”

Earlier, the US Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Armed Services panel during a hearing that just 60 fighters had cleared the vetting process for the three-month-old Syria train-and-equip program, a number he conceded was much smaller than he had hoped.

Carter added that another 7000 soldiers were going through the screening process and also predicted during Tuesday’s hearing that more allied fighters will be vetted and trained.

Of the 7,000 volunteers for the train-and-equip program, more than 1,700 had completed the final screening phases “required prior to the commencement of training.”

The fact that the Obama administration has spent such a massive amount on a program that has yielded so few vetted fighters makes clear just how difficult it is to find “moderate” Syrian rebels who can make it through the stringent screening process.

Also, few fighters are willing to prioritize the fight against ISIL over the civil war against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The administration is telling Syrians to forego fighting their greatest enemy, the Assad regime, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and meanwhile refusing to protect these fighters from the terror of Assad’s barrel bombs,” McCain said in a statement.

“That is why it is no small wonder that our train-and-equip program in Syria is so anaemic”, McCain added.

Administration officials are concerned about the aftermath if Assad were toppled without a political structure ready to replace him. But McCain and other Republicans say it’s imperative that the administration go after both the Syrian leader and ISIL.

Navy Capt. Jeff David said, “We expect the numbers of moderate Syrian opposition who we [have] in the training program to increase, but as we have said, the screening process is crucial to the program, and we will continue to err on the side of quality over quantity or speed.”

“As training progresses we are learning more about the opposition groups and building important relationships, which increases our ability to attract recruits and provides valuable intelligence for counter-ISIL operations”, David said.

Meanwhile, a separate, classified program to train Syrian rebels run by the CIA, reportedly to the tune of nearly $1 billion, has been underway for several years.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Video- USA Gears Up For Its Midterm Elections

Trump and Obama may never appear as opposing candidates on a ballot together, but they are facing off in a closely watched proxy battle in this year’s midterm campaign.

0
MIdterm Elections
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

For former U.S. president Barack Obama, it must seem like old times. Obama has started to hit the campaign trail on behalf of Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections, setting up what amounts to a proxy battle with the man who succeeded him, President Donald Trump.

Trump already has been a fixture on the campaign trail on behalf of Republicans, convinced that aggressive efforts in Republican-leaning states will protect Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Obama’s initial foray into the 2018 congressional campaign came at the University of Illinois where he urged young Democrats to keep up the fight for social and economic justice.

“Each time we have gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back,” Obama said. “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years.”

Get out the vote

Obama also campaigned in California on behalf of several Democratic House candidates, where he urged activists to turn out and vote in November.

“When we are not participating, when we are not paying attention, when we are not stepping up, other voices fill the void,” Obama told a Democratic gathering in Anaheim. “But the good news in two months, we have a chance to restore some sanity in our politics.”

Obama now finds himself competing against the man who succeeded him, President Trump, and who has vowed to undo much of what Obama did during his presidency.

Midterm Elections
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

Touting the economy

For his part, Trump has been eager to get out on the campaign trail and has promised a vigorous effort to energize Republican voters to keep their congressional majorities in November.

“This election is about jobs. It is safety and it is jobs,” Trump said at a recent Republican rally in Billings, Montana. “Thanks to Republican leadership, our economy is booming like never before in our history. Think of it, in our history. Nobody knew this was going to happen.”

Trump also is stoking fear among his Republican supporters that a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in November could lead to his impeachment.

“We will worry about that if it ever happens,” he told the crowd in Billings. “But if it does happen, it is your fault because you did not go out to vote. OK? You didn’t go out to vote.”

Midterm Elections
Supporters hold signs as President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va. VOA

Referendum on Trump

Midterm elections are historically unkind to sitting presidents. But unlike many of his predecessors, Trump has embraced the notion that the November congressional vote will be a referendum on his presidency.

Political analysts said that strategy carries both risk and reward.

“The enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle is really related to the president,” said George Washington University political scientist Lara Brown. “I think the last numbers I saw were that more than 40 percent of people who said that they would be very likely to vote were going to be either voting for the president or against the president in this midterm.”

Trump and Obama already have jousted over who should get credit for the strong U.S. economy. At his rallies, Trump touts economic growth and job creation numbers since he took over the presidency, arguing that the national economy is “booming like never before.”

Obama has offered some pushback on the campaign trail.

Midterm Elections
President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser in Fargo, N.D. VOA

“Let’s just remember when this recovery started,” Obama said in his Illinois speech, highlighting job growth during his White House years as part of the recovery from the 2008 recession.

Head-to-head battle

Like Trump, Obama also has proved to be a lightning rod for voters. The 44th president was effective in two presidential campaigns at turning out Democrats but was a drag on the party in his two midterm elections, spurring Republicans to turn out against him.

During this year’s midterm, Obama is likely to focus on mobilizing women, younger activists and nonwhite voters, key parts of the Democratic coalition that helped him win the White House in 2008 and 2012.

Also Read: Trump Needs Obama For Dealing With North Korea, Said Jon Wolfsthal

“That enthusiasm is there throughout the Democratic Party and across demographic groups,” said Brookings Institution scholar John Hudak. “And for the first time many voters are going to see options on their ballot that look and sound and talk about issues in different ways, and that is always something that is appealing to a voter base.”

Trump and Obama may never appear as opposing candidates on a ballot together, but they are facing off in a closely watched proxy battle in this year’s midterm campaign where party control of Congress is at stake. (VOA)