Syrian Train-Equip Program to Continue

Just after the leader of US Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee that only “four or five” US-trained Syrian fighters remain “in the fight,” the Pentagon press secretary said that while the train-and-equip program “has not met our own expectations,” it will continue. “We still see a need to support moderate Syrian forces on the ground,” said Peter Cook during a Pentagon press briefing. “This is an effort that clearly has faced challenges.” The program “has gotten off to a slow start,” Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the CENTCOM commander, told Congress on Sept. 16. In July, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told SASC the US had trained only 60 Syrian rebels. Still, Austin acknowledged the train-and-equip program will not reach initial goals. He also confirmed the DOD inspector general is looking into allegations about CENTCOM’s intelligence director. Cook said Carter has “full confidence in Gen. Austin.” (See also US-Trained Forces Captured in Syria.)