U.S. abandons $500 million program training 5 Syrian rebels

War never changes, the saying goes.

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2012, file photo, Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State group, a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 17, 2012, file photo, Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State group, a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

One constant in the bloody sea of change? War is always expensive and often wasteful.

The Obama administration is terminating a $500 million Pentagon program to train moderate Syrian rebels, The New York Times reports.

Last month, a top U.S. general said the program was training only “four or five” insurgents to reclaim Iraqi territory lost to an estimated 30,000 Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

The plan was to train, arm and equip 5,000 Syrians at military camps in nearby friendly countries — Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia — but no ground forces were produced, says the New York Times.

The new plan? Train “opposition leaders” to call the U.S. Air Force for air strikes on enemy positions.

That sounds a lot like what happened last weekend in Afghanistan, when the U.S. military bombed a Doctors Without Borders field hospital. That airstrike, called in by Afghans trained by the U.S., killed 12 medical staffers and 10 patients, including three children. Another 24 Doctors Without Borders staffers are still missing after the assault.

A $500 million program that produced nothing may seem expensive, but the CIA is spending a reported $1 billion a year to train rebels inside Syria to fight the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. The Assad government is also fighting ISIS, but in this case the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy.

The Washington Post theorizes “At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.”

But at least the CIA is getting results. An estimated 10,000 rebels have been trained and armed by the CIA and were making life rough on Assad forces this summer.

That probably explains why Assad’s most powerful ally, Russia, is now bombing the very rebels our tax dollars have created.

The U.S. is now considering using force to protect rebels being attacked by Russian jets and missiles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the conscription of 150,000 soldiers as Iran and Islamist group Hezbollah prepare a ground offensive inside Syria.

War is a messy, expensive and dangerous business. That too never changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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