- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2015

President Obama’s program to train Syrian rebels is a total failure and needs to be scrapped, a bipartisan group of senators said in a letter to the administration Friday, saying it’s time the national security team acknowledge the disaster and come up with a new strategy.

As the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s Syrian strategy, along with American airstrikes, the training has backfired — and some of the rebels the U.S. equipped turned around and struck a bargain to give ammunition and trucks to al Qaeda-backed forces in Syria, the senators said.

“The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat,” the four senators — three Democrats and one Republican — said in their letter.

Defense officials admitted last month that they were falling far below their promise of thousands of fighters trained this year, and of the several dozen who had been trained, only “four or five” are actually on the battlefield. The others were killed or captured almost immediately upon being deployed.

The Pentagon says it has dozens more fighters in the pipeline, but said it will miss its targets. But officials rejected the need for a rethink, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that the president and top Pentagon officials think they have the right mix.

One key to that was a decision to allow American warplanes to provide air cover for U.S.-backed rebels. But that could be more difficult now that Russia has committed its forces to the fight in Syria, complicating American military officials’ plans.

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