When you start reading this, you will begin shaking your head in disbelief. When you have finished reading this, you will be looking for a bottle of advil because your head will be pounding.-SF
It would be difficult to find a program that better exemplifies the word “failure” than the Pentagon’s “train and equip” effort in Syria.
Last May, US Central Command issued a hilariously absurd press release outlining what was quite obviously going to be a disastrous effort to arm rebel fighters. “The US military and partner forces have begun training the initial class of appropriately vetted Syrian opposition recruits this week to support the effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL in Syria,” the PR read.
The idea was to field a contingent of more than 5,000 fearsome warriors by the end of the year.
Long story short, the effort was a fiasco – a complete debacle – a hilarious screwup. First, Colonel Nadim al-Hassan and an unknown number of other fighters from “Division 30” were kidnapped in the Aleppo countryside in July. “A senior U.S. defense official confirmed the snatched fighters had gone through the initial vetting process to receive training in Turkey,” The Daily Beast wrote at the time. “But then, for reasons that remain unclear, they traveled to Syria before they were ready to do battle with ISIS.” Subsequently, al-Nusra simply arrested them at a checkpoint near Zahart al-Malkia.
“We warn soldiers of (Division 30) against proceeding in the American project,” the al-Qaeda affiliate said in a statement distributed online. “We, and the Sunni people in Syria, will not allow their sacrifices to be offered on a golden platter to the American side.
As humiliating as that most certainly was, it got far, far worse. In late September, rumors circulated that Division 30 commander Anas Ibrahim Obaid had defected to al-Nusra after he disappeared in Aleppo.
Apparently, Obaid entered Syria from Turkey the day before with some 70 new graduates of the US program and a dozen or so four-wheel vehicles equipped with machine guns and ammunition. Although there are competing accounts as to what exactly happened next, Division 30 ultimately handed over all of the ammunition and the pickup trucks to al-Nusra in exchange for “safe passage.”
“They handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups,” one Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, an al-Nusra member, said on Twitter. “A strong slap for America… the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage,” he added.
Yes, “a strong slap for America” that came just days after “a strong slap” for taxpayers who on September 16 learned that only “four or five” graduates of the $500 million program were still fighting in Syria.
The program was understandably mothballed a few weeks later, but that doesn’t mean US-trained forces didn’t continue to rack up embarrassing battlefield losses to al-Nusra. In fact, it was exactly two weeks ago that al-Nusra took over Maarat Numan from Division 13 (one of the first rebel groups to receive US-made TOWs), confiscating anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles, a tank, and other arms in the process. “We congratulate [al-Nusra chief Mohammad] al-Jolani on this conquest!” Division 13’s leadership exclaimed, sarcastically on Twitter.
Read the Remainder at Zero Hedge