In comments that began with the dramatic understatement that the US is “not necessarily training large units” in their latest attempt to create Syrian rebel factions for the battle against ISIS, officials are conceding that they have trained less than 100 Syrians since the program was restarted back in March.
The program, which is operating out of Turkey, Jordan, and “other locations,” was scrapped last fall after the first batch of rebels got killed and the second batch immediately defected to al-Qaeda. Officials aren’t even presenting the new trainees as “fighters,” but rather as “leaders,” leaving open the question of what they’re supposed to lead.
One US official said he believed that while the Pentagon could train “10 people to use a rifle,” they’re instead training “a smaller number of people to accurately describe their own position,” and to “describe enemy positions.”
Absent from the comments are the reality of the situation, that the Pentagon training 10 people to use a rifle wouldn’t be a gamechanger in Syria anyhow, and that training some number less than 10 to describe where they’re at suggests they’re lowering the bar of achievement dramatically after last year’s failure.