Pentagon’s Raqqa Plan Involves Hastily Training New Allies

US Is Training, Arming, and Funding a New Militia

Over the course of the US involvement in Syria, the relative lack of allies has repeatedly been approached the same way by the Pentagon: try to make some. The US repeatedly bankrolled very expensive endeavors in Turkey trying to form brand new Syrian rebel factions explicitly made to fight ISIS, and those plans repeatedly collapsed in absolute disgrace. Few were ever trained, and those that were quickly either defected to al-Qaeda or were captured.

But because lessons are apparently never learned in wartime, the US strategy for the invasion of the ISIS capital city of Raqqa appears once again to hinge on the idea that the US can manufacture a whole new pro-US force that will get to keep the city after the Kurdish YPG conquers it.

This plan originates in Raqqa not being a Kurdish city, and the US believing that fighters who “reflect the ethnic makeup of the city” would be more convenient rulers. Since that faction doesn’t exist, the US is hastily training everyone they can find who’s willing to do that.

And very hastily. The US is offering a total of seven days training, and a rifle to everyone who’s willing to join this faction, and is bankrolling the faction so they can pay the fighters. Whether those fighters prove at all effective is another matter, and one that remains to be seen.

Even if the Kurdish YPG does ultimately prove able to conquer Raqqa, and then willingly abandons its to this new faction, an even bigger question is whether a new faction created by the US specifically to rule ISIS’ former capital city will prove to be long-term US allies, or at all capable of taking care of such a large city.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of