Changing The Campaign

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday outlined changes the military is making to its campaign against ISIS, including changes to the failed train and equip program, which was put on hold earlier this month. US forces will no longer train new forces outside of Syria before sending them into the fight, opting instead to work with leaders of groups already fighting ISIS, and provide equipment, training, and air support to them, said Carter. US forces also “won’t hold back” from providing support in raids against ISIS, or from “conducting such missions directly,” from the air or on the ground, he added. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) repeatedly questioned both Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford about whether the US and those forces also support replacing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Dunford said Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah are fighting for Assad, but told Graham he couldn’t answer a question about whether the US would support the forces it’s training in a fight to replace Assad. “The strategy has completely fallen apart,” Graham said. “Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah are going to fight for their guy, and we’re not going to do a damn thing to help the people who want to change Syria for the better … This is a half-assed strategy at best.” (Carter prepared testimony.)