Pentagon Chiefs Paint Bleak Picture of ISIS War

Carter: Not Enough Iraqi Recruits to Train

The top military and civilian leaders of the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, are both sounding extremely pessimistic on the ISIS war today, warning in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee that the training schemes in Iraq aren’t doing particularly well.

While Carter has previously lashed the Iraqi military as incompetent for losing repeatedly to ISIS, today he revealed that another major problem is common across both Iraq and Syria, that the Pentagon’s training scheme simply isn’t finding nearly enough recruits to meet their goals.

The half billion dollar training scheme in Syria, aimed at creating a new, pro-US rebel faction, has similarly fallen far short of their plans, aimed at creating tens of thousands of new fighters every year, but struggling to get more than a few hundred qualified recruits to vet and train.

While Congressional hawks have been presenting the failure to get local fighters as justification for more US ground troops, Gen. Dempsey appeared opposed to that idea, saying that he would not recommend deployments of US troops just to try to “stiffen the spine of local forces.”

Both officials have repeatedly complained that Iraq’s military should be able to defeat ISIS easily with their numerical advantages, but that the troops continue to retreat in major battles. Chiding Iraq for their troops’ low morale, however, doesn’t seem to include any recommendations on how Iraq can fix this, and the Abadi government has gotten increasingly defensive, seeing the Pentagon’s comments as just an attempt to shift blame for their mutual failures in the war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of