Not that Centcom officials would even publicly admit it (or allow it in their reports), but the war against ISIS isn’t going so well in Iraq. Months of effort at “retaking Ramadi” hasn’t even gotten the city surrounded, and ISIS seems more entrenched than ever. Administration officials, at least, seem to be conceding that point, and are looking to shift their war focus away from Iraq and toward Syria.
It’s hard to imagine it, but US officials see Syria as a more promising territory, even though they trained 54 troops, sent them into Syria, and had them quickly turn into “four or five.” They’re citing the comparative success of the Kurdish YPG in fighting ISIS there as proof of this, and are looking to escalate their backing for them.
This has been proposed more than a few times, however, and usually gets shot down by Turkey, which considers the YPG a terrorist organization and doesn’t want them getting any stronger either. The US is desperate for gains, however, and may be less and less worried about where they come from.
One official quoted by the Washington Post suggested that the vetting process may be getting the axe too, restricting it to a few “top” commanders, saying the focus right now is “getting them some [expletive] bullets,” and who “them” is is becoming less of a concern.
Ironically, ISIS was awash in weapons in no small part because the CIA was throwing arms at Syria early in the civil war without worrying about where they ended up. The US seems to have given up on the objections that this strategy didn’t work last time, for lack of any better ideas.