While the US plans to create a massive new “moderate rebel force” to fight against both ISIS and the Syrian government have been in place for awhile, the level to which they’ll go to prop up those rebels seems to be growing dramatically.
The latest half-baked scheme, reported by the Wall Street Journal, is to give this yet-to-be-created rebel faction the ability to directly call in US airstrikes against targets of their choosing.
The US intends to provide every cell of 4-6 rebel fighters with a pickup truck that will include a mounted machine gun and a GPS system within, through which they can radio in targets to be attacked by US warplanes.
The US had been backing Syrian rebel factions they’d dubbed “moderate” in the past, but most of those groups have either lost all their territory or ended up joining the various Islamist factions. That is why the administration believes it has to create a whole new rebel force.
The lack of US intelligence on the ground makes this seem like a good idea to them, at least on the surface, as they need somebody to do spotting for airstrikes in Syria, so why not them?
The reason, of course, is because the US has a really poor track record vetting these groups, and they’re liable to use the ability to call in US airstrikes on a whim to order attacks on any target convenient to them, whether it’s a legitimate military target or not.
The US drone program in Pakistan is a key example of this not working, as often informants were calling in drone strikes against tribal rivals with no connection to al-Qaeda, simply because the US had no way of checking who they were killing.