WASHINGTON, D.C. – A top defense official announced Thursday that the Pentagon has reached a decision to overhaul its existing ISIS strategy in Syria. Speaking from the Pentagon Briefing Room, the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, told reporters the United States plans to scale back its initial goal of mustering a force of 5,000 rebel recruits per year to “a more feasible” thirteen.
“Lower numbers mean a stricter screening process, which in the long run yields notably higher results,” said General Austin, who added that U.S. forces have already trained five Syrian rebels so far this year. “We are on track to have the remaining eight recruits combat-ready by late December,” General Austin stated.
In 2014, Congress approved a budget of $500 million to train and arm Syrian rebels as part of a request for funding by the Obama administration to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. General Austin said the Pentagon’s revised plan requires a fraction of the initial budget approved by Congress. ” We foresee an annual budget of $100,000,” General Austin said. “This covers all costs associated with training, equipment, and logistics. We’re looking at a total budget of $38.4 million over the next three hundred and eighty-four years.”
Defense officials are confident that with the revised strategy, the U.S. can deal a critical, if not fatal, blow to the Islamic State by 2399. “We may not even have five thousand fighters alive by 2399 but we will have trained five thousand fighters by 2399 and that in itself will be a major victory for the United States,” a defense official told The Wall Street Journal.
In early September, Russia began to significantly increase its military presence in Syria as part of its effort to boost al-Assad’s regime amid the country’s multi-sided civil war. Meanwhile, many Western nations began opening their doors to some of the nearly three million Syrian refugees who have fled the country. Following suit, the United States announced last week that it would house an estimated 250,000 refugees on Native American tribal land.