Defense Secretary Ash Carter slammed President Barack Obama’s plan of raising an army in Syria to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, revealing the U.S. is training 60 fighters, news said.
Mr. Obama announced recently the government’s $500 million-project of building an army among the Syrian rebels, but according to Carter, such move is not efficient as the U.S. is still very far behind on the Syrian border.
Secretary Carter joined Gen. Martin Dempsey from Joint Chiefs of Staff in appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday to address the government’s strategy in its battle against the Islamic State. Despite Mr. Obama’s earlier remarks that training of Syrian army is gaining momentum, the country falls short of its goal.
“That is not a very impressive number,” said Sen. John McCain, chairman of the committee, after Carter disclosed only 60 Syrians enlisted in the training. But Carter added the training is still on the preliminary stages and the team is working to assess and screen almost 7,00 volunteers.
In a report by Fox News, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest echoed McCain’s reaction and said that “60 trainees is clearly not enough” but further explained the “vetting process is critical and takes time.”
Carter expounded the process involves doing counter-intelligence screening and checking to ensure any recruits “meet standards prescribed by U.S. law.”
The plan of raising an army has been ongoing for three years and has since convinced “fewer than 100 Syrians,” who have started training only in May after several months of recruitment and assessing volunteers.
In Obama’s plan, the government aims to have 5,400 rebels trained and equipped each year. Military officials, however, remain hopeful they can train 3,000 by end of the year.