After their last attempt to recruit and train a whole new rebel faction for Syria ended in disaster, the Pentagon is angling to try again. US officials are bursting with confidence, saying they have more Arabs volunteering than they know what to do with.
Described as an “eclectic” group, the new recruits seem even less suited to the role than the last ones. One US military adviser described them as “raw, literally civilians coming off the streets,” which plays well to the US narrative of locals rising up to resist ISIS.
But the US training missions have struggled enough with training proper militaries and rebels with considerable existing experience. Carving a whole new fighting force out of untrained civilians is the very thing President Obama mocked as “fantasy.”
They could hardly do worse than the last attempt, however, with the Pentagon’s previous training attempts not only ending with the “first class” of recruits wiped out in a matter of days, but with the second class defecting to al-Qaeda almost immediately with a large amount of US equipment.
That the Pentagon is already trying to same scheme again so soon after such an embarrassment reflects the lack of realistic ideas among US officials on how to win the ongoing war, and continued pressure to “do something,” even if it clearly won’t work.