Despite attempts by the US to blame the failure of its extremely expensive anti-Daesh (ISIL/Islamic State) train-and-equip program on Turkish intelligence, Syrian militia and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the true reason for the flop is Washington itself, an investigation by an independent US media outlet unveiled.
Several interviews with Syrian participants of the US-initiated effort to fight Daesh extremists revealed that the program was “chaotic from the beginning,” as no one could clearly identify the goals of the project, and there was no organized allocation of resources, including food and weapons, among the troops, McClatchyDC reported.The investigation detailed that the Syrian recruits participating in the program and their American allies were not supportive of the effort.
Trainee commander Amin Ibrahim stated that the “whole idea was wrong.” A Turkish security official suggested that Ankara was skeptical of the program as well, saying, “the Americans live in a fictive world.”
At the beginning of the $500 million program, a Syrian recruit, identified only as Mahmoud, told McClatchyDC, that the “training was high quality.” The daily schedule included well-organized physical exercise, classroom instruction, and weapons training.
Troubles began when it was revealed that there weren’t any lessons on operating the TOW anti-tank missiles, considered to be the most effective means to deal with common Daesh weapons, including vehicle suicide bombs. Soon after, only two of 54 trainees were taught to call in airstrikes. During the training, Americans provided their combat students with just 200 pounds of rice and 200 pounds of kidney beans. Although this amount of food would be enough to feed the troops for two weeks, it wouldn’t be enough to feed their families, which at that time were suffering a critical lack of basic human resources, including food.Americans broke their promise to provide an armed escort of a thousand soldiers for the 54 graduates of the program during their travel to the battlefield. Only 200 troops were allocated to support the Syrians, and they left the graduates on their own, without ammunition, food or money, Mahmoud said.
When it came to fighting, genuine disaster struck. An al-Qaeda affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, captured the commander of the US-trained Syrian faction, along with seven of his soldiers, on July 29 and another 10 trainees on July 31.The final nail in the program’s coffin happened two weeks later, when a second group of trainees was found to have surrendered their weapons to the al-Nusra Front.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, later tried to save face by listing program achievements.
“We were able to train over 150 Syrian fighters in the program, many of who remain active in the fight [against Daesh],” he explained in an email to McClatchyDC. “But over time [we] assessed the program was not working out as we had hoped. So we decided to end it.”
Of $500 million invested by the US in the training program some $384 million was spent, Warren said, adding that only 145 of the trained graduates remain active.