Speaking today at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Chief Gen. Ray Odierno said it was possible that unnamed countries within the US coalition against ISIS might be willing to send ground troops to Syria when the “rebel army” the US plans to train is ready.
Odierno’s comments were extremely light on details, offering no names, no numbers, and no indication what these troops, which he dubbed “enablers” might be doing, if they come around at all.
Rather, the comments seem meant to tamp down expectations that this non-existent rebel force, which the Pentagon hasn’t even started training in earnest, would be able to function independently, let alone able to quickly conquer Syria on behalf of the US.
Pentagon officials say some 400 potential rebels have passed through the “first stage of vetting,” and would be vetted the rest of the way within another six weeks. The Pentagon had said they wanted 5,000 rebels trained within a year, but training appears not to have started, and the Pentagon has only found 2,000 potential candidates to begin with. Needless to say, this seems to be a long-term project for the military.