The Barack Obama administration is throwing in the towel on its program for the US training of Syrian rebel troops. The program intended to spend some $500 million dollars to train and equip 5,000 rebels has been a huge failure. At best, only some 4 or 5 rebels were trained and sent out to actually fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Islamic State, or ISIS, or ISIL. Even those few troops wound up quitting and turned over their gear and weapons to a group of Al Qaeda fighters. How much has this program cost us so far? Who knows? One estimate a few weeks ago, when the truth was learned during a Congressional hearing, put the figure around $215 million dollars. The White House has been pitching a number of about $50 million this week. Either way, that is quite a bit of dough to fund training and equipping 4-5 guys. Ten to twelve million a pop is about what we spend on training jet fighter pilots or astronauts over a period of several years. Not a few months and limited to just teaching troops how to use and care for small arms.
The decision to end the training program comes after Vladimir Putin has launched a genuine military campaign in Syria. Compared to the Obama strategy, Russia has taken its offensive seriously. Instead of just a few airstrikes each day, destroying the odd pick-up truck, as under Obama, Putin has released a hail of fire and brimstone. Just on Friday, the Russian Air Force launched over 60 airstrikes. There are signs that ISIS forces are dropping their weapons and running away for dear life.
While the world laughs at Obama over his handling of ISIS and Syria, he faces new scrutiny here at home. CBS ′60 Minutes′ Steve Kroft interviewed Obama for this Sunday′s episode of the news magazine. Kroft takes Obama to task over the question of leadership and why Putin is seen as out-performing Obama. Obama babbles while Putin acts. His response to Kroft is to belittle Putin, much as Obama does regularly with Republicans.
Can Barack Obama talk his way out of yet another policy failure? How badly will our standing in the world be hurt now that Obama has ended the program of US training Syrian rebel troops? Will we ever get the truth of how much of the $500 Million dollars for the program was actually spent? What does it say that we only trained 4 or 5 fighters? How long will America have to bare the shame that Obama has caused?