The U.S. has allocated $1.769 billion to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian forces as part of the Pentagon’s budget for 2018, a document from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has revealed.
Iraq is set to get the majority of the funding, as Syria’s share will only be around $500 million.
According to the document, the DoD also stated that over 25,000 troops will be trained in Syria to combat ISIS, especially to cover the loss of personnel over the course of the battle.
Most of the Syrian funding component – $393 million – will go to weaponry and equipment, including heavy weapons such as anti-armor and rocket launchers.
The last time the U.S. used $500 million to train Syrian rebels, under Barack Obama, it was widely regarded as a complete failure. By the time the program ended, the U.S. had only managed to train 60 fighters out of a proposed figure of 5,400. The rest of the fighters defected immediately and handed their weaponry over to al-Qaeda.
In that context, the scheme was probably not an outright failure in the eyes of the U.S. establishment, as al-Qaeda in Syria is one of the most effective fighting forces against the Syrian government, a longtime enemy of the U.S.-led coalition.
That being said, the new proposal will most likely benefit the Kurdish elements within the Syrian battlefield, as a large portion of the weapons are expected to be given to the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
In its justification for the budget, the Department of Defense claimed the impact of not arming the vetted Syrian opposition in Syria would have significant consequences for America’s goals in Syria:
“If the funding for the VSO forces is not provided, U.S. security and stability goals and momentum against ISIS in Syria and the surrounding areas will slow and falter. There will be a loss of credibility and reluctance of opposition forces and neighboring nations to rely on or trust the United States to meet commitments. It is critical to build on the successes that capable and aggressive VSO forces have already demonstrated to counter ISIS. If not countered, ISIS will continue to recruit extremist elements, including foreign fighters, and export terror to peaceful nations outside of Syria, to include the United States.”
We should stay the hell out of Syria, the “rebels” are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2013
Many of the Syrian rebels are radical jihadi Islamists who are murdering Christians. Why would we ever fight with them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2013
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2013