The US government’s program to train and equip militants in Syria has cost it $2 million per trainee and produced a meager result, a new report shows.
The Pentagon officially scrapped its “train-and-equip” program in Syria last month after spending a total of $384 million on a small cadre of militants, the USA TODAY said in a report Thursday.
Initially, US President Barack Obama’s administration had tabbed $500 million to the plan, pledging to produce 3,000 so-called “New Syrian Forces” this year, and 5,000 more annually thereafter, who were allegedly trained to take on Daesh terrorists.
The program was suspended after $384 million was spent on 180 militants. From those, 145 militants remain in the program while only 95 of them are stationed in Syria.
The Pentagon disputed the figures, claiming the actual cost was far lower at around $30,000 per trainee. The “vast majority” of the funds were used for weapons, equipment and ammunition, some of which were still in the possession of the US-led coalition, Navy Commander Elissa Smith, told the daily.
“Our investment in the Syria train and equip program should not be viewed purely in fiscal terms,” the Pentagon spokeswoman added.
USA TODAY also revealed (pictured below) that the program provided the militants with $204 million equivalent of ammunition and $77 million worth in weapons.
The report noted that out of the four training camps the Pentagon designated for the program in various Middle Eastern countries, two camps never hosted a recruit.
According to a defense official cited in a New York Times report, the camps were located in the US-backed Arab kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan.
Iraq program, another failure
The report also pointed to a separate program the Pentagon has been running in Iraq, having spent nearly $1 billion to train and equip security forces to counter Daesh, according to Mark Wright, a spokesman.
Despite the alleged effort, however, the terror organization still has Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city after Baghdad, and the strategic city of Ramadi under control.
In a bid to escalate Washington’s military intervention in the country, US commanders have forwarded several proposals to the Defense Department, including one option that would allow the Iraqi forces to call in airstrikes, a step that would bring American forces to the front line.