Now that we have officially started the War in Syria I want to make a point about a key part of President Obama’s plan against ISIS. It depends heavily on finding and training “moderate” rebels. Over the course of a relatively short period of time we are planning to turn a diverse group of militias, who may or may not currently be enemies which each other, into a coherent force capable of defeating ISIS on the ground. This is so fundamental to Obama’s plan that extra funding for these rebels was the only part that actually got a vote in Congress.
These leaves me asking: Why do we think the United States is good at training armies in the Middle East?
A big part of the problem with ISIS is how the Iraqi army failed to defeat them. ISIS managed to beat the Iraqi army and take their weapons. In addition according to Gen. Martin Dempsey half the Iraqi army is incapable of effectively partnering with the United States to fight ISIS and much of the other half needs to be rebuilt.
This is the same Iraqi army the United States spend a decade training and equipping! If we succeed with train the first time ISIS won’t have been able take territory in Iraq.
It is not like our even longer efforts to vet and train the Afghan army have worked out great either. There is still a problem with Afghan soldiers attacking American military personal, with the most high profile incident just last month.
If after spending billions of dollars, a decade of time in the actual country with a semi-supportive government, and access to all the basic infrastructure we weren’t able to build an effective foreign army, what makes us think we can do it in a few months with few thousand Syrians we ship to Saudi Arabia?
Photo by US Army