Here’s the real question that no one is asking: why could we only find four or five such “moderates”?
This is what happens when reality meets fantasy. And still the Obama administration and the West cling to their dream (and our nightmare).
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Republicans and Democrats lambasted the Obama administration’s strategy to combat the Islamic State group after a top U.S. general admitted that just a handful of U.S.-trained Syrian rebels are still on the battlefield fighting the militants. The four or five fighters still engaged in the campaign is astonishingly short of the U.S. goal to train and equip 5,400 rebels a year at a cost of $500 million.
“That’s a joke,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said: “We have to acknowledge this is a total failure. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the fact.”
After the first 54 were sent in to fight in July, a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida attacked the group, killing several and taking others hostage while many fled. Asked how many remain, Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Centcom, which oversees the war effort, told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “It’s a small number. … We’re talking four or five.”
Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy, said the U.S. currently was training more than 100 fighters, then later in her testimony said more specifically the number was between 100 and 120.
“If we get to the end of the year with us bragging about the difference between a 100 and a 120, it’s time for a new plan,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
One of the problems has been that many Syrian fighters want training and equipment to fight the government forces of Syria President Bashar Assad, but the U.S. program is limited to rebels who agree to only battle the militants.
The stunning admission from Austin came as defense officials scrambled separately to respond to allegations that they skewed intelligence assessments to give a rosier picture of conditions on the battlefield.
Austin said he would take “appropriate actions” if an investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general finds that senior defense officials altered intelligence to exaggerate progress being made against the Islamic State group and other militants in Syria.