How Badly Has Training Syrian Rebels Gone? You won’t believe how badly.

Austin_Lloyd - Commander, US Central CommandThe commander of US Central Command, Lloyd Austin, spilled a fact which shocked the Washington Post a little.

That fact can be sliced a few different ways, but it comes down to this: the program to train non-ISIL, non-Assad combatants for Syria is, like every other aspect of Austin’s and the Administration’s incoherent Syria policy, a failure of staggering proportions. Its result? Single digits of fighters in Syria. Low single digits, like five. Or maybe only four. 

It’s not only a failure as a program, Austin can’t even place any confidence in the numbers describing the outrageous dimensions of the failure. The Washington Post, usually willing to carry water for the Administration and its political generals, finds itself, without any water to carry, reduced to reporting like an old-style paper:

In comments that appeared to shock even many of those involved in Syria policy elsewhere in the government, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the U.S. Central Command, told Congress on Wednesday that only “four or five” trainees from the program, a $500 million plan officially launched in December to prepare as many as 5,400 fighters this year, have ended up “in the fight” inside Syria.

There are a couple different ways of looking at that metric. For instance, if you want to know what value for money the Administration’s politicized Syrian-training program produces, you could compare the cost of a trained fighter in Syria to the cost of, say, the military education of General Austin: we know the number’s $100 million for each ragtag Syrian. Or we can look at the success percentage of the training program, which has delivered 5 of 5,400 promised combatants: that would be 0.092%, which would put it right in the mainstream for government programs.

But wait! Those numbers are presuming the ill-informed Austin’s high bound of 5 Syrians is right. If it’s 4, they cost us $125 million each, and 0.074% success rate, which is said aloud as “Seventy-four thousandths of a percent.”

Do you dare ask who has been fired? Who has been held accountable? Who was denied a bonus? You know, don’t you, the answer to these questions.

The course correction would mark the first significant alteration in the Obama administration’s year-old strategy of defeating the militants with air power, along with training and supplies for indigenous forces fighting them on the ground. It comes as critics have drawn a direct line between Obama’s long-standing reluctance to more directly intervene in the fight and the growing flood of Syrian refugees fleeing to the West.

First, air power alone can’t defeat anybody, and second, it’s been at a rate of a half-dozen sorties a day, based on technical-means intelligence (also known in the trade as “worthless, easily-spoofed intelligence”) alone. So what’s their answer?

Defense officials who described the proposed changes said the yearly goal would be substantially lower, perhaps as few as 500.

Oh, okay, redesignate success so that if they match the previous results they can now say the fighters only cost $10 million each (again, a large multiple of the cost of the career-long education GEN Austin has had) and we were able to get the throughput up to 1%!

That’s efficiency, as seen from the window of the E-Ring (or the bar car of the Acela).

Rather than front-line forces, fighters would be trained as enablers and liaisons between U.S. forces outside the country — particularly those directing U.S. airstrikes — and groups such as Syrian Kurds and Sunni Arabs that the Pentagon thinks have been effective against the militants.

via Administration searches for new approach to aiding rebels in Syria – The Washington Post.

And, wait for it, we’ll stop training Islamist extremists of the kind the President and the Secretary of State have insisted on, the guys who are indistinguishable from the ISIL asils we’re supposedly fighting, and instead train guys who want to fight against them.

Um, why didn’t anyone (apart from all of us in the UW establishment) suggest this before? Oh, we did, but President Nobel Peace Prize had to do it his own way with his own Muslim Brotherhood pals? Roger that.

Meanwhile, the Russians have taken an interesting approach to their guy in Syria, the chinless wonder, Bashar Assad. They’ve surrounded him with Russian firepower.

Meanwhile, millions of Syrians, and Iraqis, and Turks, and other surge into Europe, demanding that the fruits of Western civilization be given to those who are too uncivilized to earn them themselves, and who will only squander them. And we remember the old counterintelligence rule of refugees and displaced persons: one in ten is not what he seems. Indeed, it is a dead certainty that ISIL, the Syrian Assad government, the Iranian theokleptocracy, and other bad actors each have a higher percentage of agents in that “refugee” surge than the yield percentage the US gets out of its 5,400, or 500, alleged freedom fighters.

And, as the usual sleek Ivy and Georgetown “foreign policy establishment” within and without State and CIA stare at their screens and mutter something about “unexpectedly,” a weak, vacillating foreign policy in general and its weak, vacillating, inconstant, and cowardly implementation in the region in particular, bear fruit. They produce a result that’s predictable to those of use who formed an understanding of international dispute resolution at the sharp and sticky end.

All of these events are only unexpected if your vision of international dispute resolution was framed in a 400-series seminar led by some professor who’s never faced a tougher question than whether to grade his kids’ papers or let his graduate assistant do it. And unfortunately, we have given foreign and military policy over to these four-flushers.

But hey, some Syrians are with us. Seventy-four thousandths of a percent!

32 thoughts on “How Badly Has Training Syrian Rebels Gone? You won’t believe how badly.

  1. DSM

    I saw yesterday some of those “refugees” were quite willing to fight against the Hungarian border police. Hand them a rifle (I hear the Germans have some G36s that need a new home) and march them right back to their homeland. Go fight there. Don’t tell someone else in their country how to run their business if you can’t handle yours.

    1. Stacy0311

      The “refugee” crisis does simplify the situation in Syria.
      The only ones left there are either ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or Assad’s thugs. So it’s now a target rich environment. Every bomb will hit a designated asshole.
      When everybody’s dead, send the refugees back to re-start Syria!

  2. Mr. AR-10

    “For instance, if you want to know what value for money the Administration’s politicized Syrian-training program produces … the number’s $100 million for each ragtag Syrian”

    Heh. It’s almost like they are *trying* to waste our money.


  3. Jim Scrummy

    I guess the jayvee team is putting up some big W’s in the ol’ war column? Of course the 5-sided puzzle palace minions are more concerned with diversity/transgender/lowering of standards, and also making sure everyone has a reflective belt for PT… These are the important issues of the day! Maybe I should start stocking up on some good whiskey and beer to go along with my bread (maybe some good cheese too) while watching the circuses. Good times, good times.

  4. Medic09

    The Obama administration could destroy America’s hard-won prestige in the world by being fickle, leaving allies and sympathizers in the lurch, supporting people who have no admiration or affinity for America at all. And they’ve used all those tactics. But just to ensure that the world gets the message that the Administration doesn’t want America admired anymore, looked up to, or supported – they’ve gone all in and shown sheer idiotic gross incompetence, as well. Just in case there was anyone who still thought they should align themselves with the USA. I pity the next POTUS, who will have to try and clean up this mess. It will take more than 4 years, I can tell ya. What a crying shame.

    1. Miles

      Oh, I think the ‘reputation’ is know to be Obummer’s and Kerry’s.

      We’re no the only ones waiting for 20JAN2017

  5. DOL

    I wonder if the NCA administration will voice their support to Austin? Maybe admit that the program in question didn’t get funded until 2.5 years after the initial need was identified, and 2 years after the promise to train and equip the “SMO” was issued by the commander in chief?

    Its hard to convince guys to hold out from a combined ANF/ ISIL/ Assad onslaught. After two years anybody the U.S. could have trained was either dead, E&E’d out, or allied themselves with one above mentioned elements for the sake of survival.

    Assuming the program works what does ” success ” look like? We’ve already stated that it’s not Assad or ISIL in power. Who does that leave? ANF? No thank you. The fact of the matter is that we finally started moving too late to influence a positive outcome here. Raqqa city will never be the once gleaming center of knowledge and commerce that it once was.

    You’re exactly right in that no one will be fired for this. Because the people that sat on their hands are either elected or appointed. Not a single one of them has a military background, and despite whatever gets thrown around the ivory towers where these folks are produced its apparently not that easy to figure out once in place. While the elite view of any DOD element as ” people who couldn’t get real jobs ” the past 20 years have certainly proven that whatever the pipeline is for attaining high level political power domestically, it certainly doesn’t prepare anyone for wielding power on the global stage.

    1. Buckaroo

      Why would anyone get fired? They are delivering precisely the results they were hired to deliver.

  6. Selfsufficientfarmgirl

    Where have all our true scholars gone, those who study to understand history and apply its lessons to modern situations and policy? If the leadership has been inbred until the cowards teach the fools and the fools advise the cowards, what happens to the genuine warriors and true scholars who would normally rise, like cream, to the top?

    1. Mr. AR-10

      “what happens to the genuine warriors and true scholars who would normally rise, like cream, to the top?”

      But there is exactly the problem at its simplest form. The true intellectual, the warrior, the good men who seek to create and maintain the civil society for the good of all do not rise to the top. Those who do rise to the top naturally, are those men who are willing to cheat, to steal, to fight and to kill for the power and the wealth that comes with it. And even more to the point, those who believe in the rule of law, in fairness and hard work are usually busy doing just that – work!

      Madison wrote about this;

      “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

      That is to say, if the natural state of society was that the good men were to “normally rise, like cream, to the top” then we wouldn’t really even need a government at all. But the truth is just the opposite, men are not angels, they are often evil, but for the most part, simply criminal and corrupt, and it is these men who normally cheat, steal and fight their way to the top.

      So what do we do? We create laws, and governments and constitutions.

      And all we need to do in the civil society is to follow the constitution. All laws apply to al men equally. And this is what brought us the greatest prosperity, the most wealth, the fewest and the happiest poor people of all the nations on the planet across all history, up until say 50 or 100 years ago.

      Now we are solidly set on a course that goes the other direction. No one invents things – or if they do they find they can’t really profit from it. No one goes from dirt poor to great success on the merits of their own talents and hard work like so many people were able to do in our earlier times – I’m speaking in the general of course, not the specific, yes there are some who can do these things today, but it’s so much more difficult because the rules are stacked against you. If you create a widget that is useful and good, you are almost certain to become a threat to a business that is already powerful and rich, and they will use their power to prevent your success, and if they can’t just use their money and manpower to defeat you, and if they are rich enough, they will conspire with the state to come after you with regulations and laws and all manner of trickery and if necessary, and the amount of money justifies it, the state will just use their jails and guns.

      This is good vs evil, and the true nature of man is that the good man normally is the one to lay down and to decide not to fight and it is the evil man who does not – and ends up running everything.

      The good men are all here, we haven’t gone away. We are just outnumbered by the fools who are all too busy watching the Daily Show and voting straight commie.

      Long post I know, shorter version; We are fucked.

    2. Mr. AR-10

      Ment to add this, from Galt’s speech;

      “This country wasn’t built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth.

      Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors. Twelve years ago, I saw what was wrong with the world and where the battle for Life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality and that my acceptance of that morality was its only power. I was the first of the men who refused to give up the pursuit of his own happiness in order to serve others.

      To those of you who retain some remnant of dignity and the will to live your lives for yourselves, you have the chance to make the same choice. Examine your values and understand that you must choose one side or the other. Any compromise between good and evil only hurts the good and helps the evil.

      If you’ve understood what I’ve said, stop supporting your destroyers. Don’t accept their philosophy. Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, and your love. Don’t exhaust yourself to help build the kind of world that you see around you now. In the name of the best within you, don’t sacrifice the world to those who will take away your happiness for it. “

      1. Hognose Post author

        Galt is arguing by reason in 1955 or thereabouts. Today, America selects leaders based on celebrity, team/tribal identification, rhetoric, value signaling, and celebrity. (Yes, we said “celebrity” twice. It’s that important, and a great deal of the appeal of dynasties to the proles).

        1. John Distai

          In the beginning of the book, young Dagny sees a tree hit by lightning. A once great oak that had been hollowed out by internal decay. It was an excellent metaphor for the US. And written in 1955 as you mentioned.

          I have always wondered if the oak metaphor was how she saw the future of America, or how she saw it at the time of the writing?

          If you have the inclination, listen to the Christopher Hurt narrations of Atlas Shrugged. It’s long, but its a much different book than the abridged version. Hurt, in my opinion, is an excellent narrator. He also narrates The Fountainhead, another book that outlines some of the problems associated with upholding mediocrity.

        2. Mr. AR-10

          Not sure if I follow your point Hog, but if I take a guess, I think the comparison of the use of reason (objectivisms central tenet) vs. Celebrity is just as valid today as it was back in 1950.

          Yes, celebrity was a different thing back then, but it existed and recall that Lenin and Stalin were essentiallly the inventors of the term ‘Cult of Personality’.

          I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say Obama was elected by this very same mechanism – the cult of personality which is just another way to say celebrity.

          Mind that I am *not* saying Obama is just like Stalin, he isn’t… but there are similiarities; like the whole being a dirty commie for starters.

          Anyway, if I was reading your point wrong that’s my bad.

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  8. Jjak

    The warnings are being made. Then they are being hidden by the toadies. Probably in more places than CENTCOM too.

    Analysts Detail Claims That Reports on ISIS Were Distorted

    I imagine 50ish whistle blowers and any supporters will soon be unemployed.

    Some thing is rotten in Tampa. And I doubt it ends there.

  9. Buckaroo

    Failure? Nope, another bracing success for the Obama administration– when you consider of course the fact that it’s goal is to destroy (sorry, “fundamentally transform”) the USA as we know it. $500 million disappeared into some politically-connected people’s pockets, with lots of it undoubtedly kicked back to administration insiders…valuable financial resources that will be used to continue the fight to undermine and ruin our country. ISIS gets stronger, and most importantly, “refugees” are unleashed to invade Europe and (shortly) the U.S.

    Obama will go down as the most successful and audacious president in U.S. history. His track record at accomplishing his goals is unblemished, and his opposition has been co-opted, scattered, splintered, and completely demoralized.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Your post is absolutely right. Everybody here should follow your link. The danger is not ISIL’s acquisition of tanks, modern artillery, or planes. It’s the power of their simple ideology to inflame simple minds, to address a bunch of people who are conscious that they are losers at life, and want to be told it’s someone else’s fault. They’re not losers because they’re illiterate, inbred, trapped in a 7th Century lifestyle and sexually attracted to caprines, oh no, that’s not it at all: Kuffar’s keeping ’em down.

      What causes the failure of the Syrian resistance is: what is it fighting for? Survival? Syrians can survive by bugging out, which is why bugging out is so popular right now. But the bugout diaspora carries not only a few professional, trained agitators for ISIL but also many others who are infected with the pathogen of ISIL ideology: political, totalitarian Islam. Real zombies, and they want to eat your brain.

      There are three sides in the war now. In Syria it is Boy Assad and his allies, including our Iranian enemies and our Russian frenemies; ISIL/ISIS/IS/Da’esh, whatever you want to call ’em; and an all but non-existent non-Assad non-jihadi resistance. That war is lost, to the extent it was anything more than lines in a Presidential speech for domestic consumption by his worshipful state media.

      In Iraq, the three sides are the Shia government and its Iranian allies (and a little US support — it’s not as meaningful to them as what they’re getting from Iran and Russia, which comes with fewer overt strings attached); the Kurdish de facto nation-state; and ISIL. ISIL has absorbed the bulk of the Sunni Iraqis whether they wanted it or not (the rest are among the refugees fleeing the region to screw up somebody else’s country next).

      ISIL has layers to it. There are the expendable cannon fodder, mostly amped-up foreigners full of Islam and bullshit (but I repeat myself). ISIL depends on a steady flow of these losers, whom their imams overinflate with further bullshit and then stuff into suicide vests. These are the splodeydopes, and they are legion. Then, there’s the professional military officers doing the planning. They look like geniuses not because they are geniuses (how thick is the volume Great Victories of the Iraqi Army?), but because their opponents are brain dead for the most part. In the kingdom of the severely retarded, the mildly retarded is king.

      I have been in a position to observe negotiations with the Iraqi government for a contract for almost three years. Nothing is steady or stable, there are constant demands for bribes (which Americans can’t touch with a bargepole, although our EU and RU competitors cheerfully and legally pay them), and the government is actually losing their country in part because they are unwilling to do what it takes to meet this critical need. Which became a critical need in large part because they purged non-Shia leaders and technical personnel. This is why they have 65 year old battalion commanders and similar aged colonels and generals flying fighter strikes. (Iraq has barely trained any new pilots since the Gulf War 25 years ago; you can actually list their names on a single sheet of paper). The patriotic Iraqis from the former largely secular dictatorship are between the hard rocks of an incompetent, corrupt, sectarian government and the Force 7 seas of ISIL.

      And yet, to the extent the Iraqi government wants its people trained, it wants to train people for “glamor jobs,” and not boring preventive maintenance or operational support jobs. And they want to give the training organization a list of people, a list they establish by sectarian connections and nepotism. “Train these guys, make them jet pilots.” “Uh, we tested these guys and their mean IQ’s 85. We can train them to sweep runways for FOD, that’s about it. And who are your mechanics?” “Oh, we got them, don’t worry, Allah will provide. We want you to make our officers as good as your officers. But no selecting them, and they all have to pass.”

      The Iraqi people do not deserve what they’re getting, nobody does. But the Iraqi leaders have it coming.

      The few friends we have in the region are terrified and have lost their faith and trust in us. There are probably 10 new nuclear programs underway in the world now.

  10. DAN III

    Here’s a novel concept….get the hell out of the Middle East, Korea and 100+ other countries altogether !

    Your country is being invaded along it’s southern border. Hundreds of thousands of Africans and Muslims are being “resettled” throughout the former USA by the Usurper-in-Chief, and you folks CONTINUE to put your energy and priorities into the Middle East. No wonder this country is in it’s death throes.


  11. H

    $100 million per trainee and not show up?

    Sheeee-it. I’ll be happy to not do it for a mere 25-mil. Where do I sign up?

  12. Aesop

    If they’re paying $125M@ for people to pop ISIL asil’s in the baklava-hole, they’re recruiting in the wrong hemisphere.
    I’m pretty sure for $500M, I could recruit, outfit, and train a pretty good scratch-made Texan-Coonass militia regiment, including Arabic language proficiency, and have enough left over afterwards to keep them in the field for 1-2 years at full tempo, with minimal ongoing support needs: mail, medevac, and the usual beans/bullets/bandaids. If you advertised it seasonally in the outdoor publications as a jihadi hunting camp, I could probably surge that to a full division, seasonally.

    The only real troubles would be threefold:
    1) what to do with the swath of Syraqistan they’d geographically control within the first 90 days, and deciding whether to keep it outright, or gift it to the Kurds, thus scaring the hell out of Syria, Turkey, Iran, Putin, and whatever it is we’re calling the former Iraqoslavian countryside and its notional “government”.
    2) Keeping them from doing a reverse Xenophon, and marching unassisted on Teheran.
    3) Keeping the Israelis, Saudis, and Egyptians from jointly fully funding the effort in the case of #2.

    The press would be easy: anyone complaining would be offered a chance to be embedded, in the field.
    Further media interest/coverage would drop to nothing inside of an hour, except for the occasional article in Soldier of Fortune.

  13. docduracoat

    There are thousands of Syrians who are with us.
    They are the Syrian Kurds.
    They have organized themselves into a self defense force called YPJ and YPG.
    The YPJ are the all female units. The women have served with distinction especially in the siege of Kobani where Arkan detonated a mortar shell just before she was captured and killed her captors. Rehanna was a sniper there with 100 Isis kills before she was in turn captured and beheaded.
    With the help of embedded forward air controllers and US air power and their own ” mad max” armored vehicles along with 100 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers allowed to cross Turkish territory with artillery, the six month battle was a bloodbath for Isis with at least 1,400 jihadis dead.
    The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds have shown that they can stand up to Isis.
    We should be arming them with heavier weapons like tanks, helicopter gunships and artillery. They are advancing on Rakkah, the Isis capital with a couple of mad max armored tractors, and technicals.
    The Germans gave the Iragi Kurds some Milan’s, panzerfaust and G 36 and G 3 rifles.
    The Syrian Kurds are doing incredible service with Saddam era AK’s and American MRAPs captured from Isis.
    Thousands of minority refugees has sought shelter in their Kurdish statelet of ” Rojava” If we were to give them the means to car out a Kurdish nation, thousands of Syrians would return to live under Kurdish rule.
    Of all the Sunnis, the Kurds are the only ones who are mostly secular, against terrorism and love the USA.


    Its more likely the missing money was not all spent on 5 rag rag Muslim freedom fighters, but went to Black projects. I find it hard to believe that Centcom is that incompetent. Perhaps an investigative journalist could investigate this, as congressional hearings are little more than a dog and pony show.

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  16. Poupon Marx

    I want to correct the World on an abuse of a world, “Affirmative” Action. That should be “Afearmotive” Action, because it is based on fear, that of Negroes rioting again, and calling White people bad names.

  17. archy

    These idiots should be training ISIS. Then we could begin the transformation of Syria and Iraq into a hog farm, populated by Mexican refugees.

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