- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin isn’t happy about the math on President Obama’s $500 million plan to train 5,000 Syrian rebels over the course of a year to fight the Islamic State terrorist group.

“So that is $100,000 per person that we are supposed to do,” the Democratic senator said Wednesday, The Hill reported.

Mr. Manchin added that training Syrian rebels was a risky proposition because they are fighting a civil war in the name of Islam.

“I have a hard time understanding why all of a sudden we are going to convince these 5,000 to turn and fight [the Islamic State], who is fighting the same religious war that they are fighting against the Assad regime,” he said, The Hill reported.

Mr. Manchin told the committee that the U.S. spent $20 billion training the Iraqi army, which he said “turned tail and ran” when it faced a serious test.

The retreat by Iraqis put weapons provided by the U.S. into the hands of the Islamic State group, he said.

SEE ALSO: Pentagon open to U.S. ground troops in fight against Islamic State

“The only thing that I know that we are sure of is that training and those weapons will probably be used against us at some time in the future if everything that has happened in the past,” he said, The Hill reported.

The president visited MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Wednesday, using the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment not to use ground troops in Iraq.

“As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” Mr. Obama told troops at the base.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Tuesday that conditions on the ground may at some point require ground troops, and that he would make such a recommendation to the president if necessary.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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