US train and equip program faces recruitment issues in Syria

Published July 2nd, 2015 - 07:00 GMT

The US military has new problems over recruiting and training “moderate” rebels in Syria because people want to be with their families in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday dozens of the trainees quit during Ramadan that began in mid-June.

"There's a lot of folks that are interested in being with their families during that period, and so we may see after Ramadan that some of the ones we lost may come back," he told reporters.

"At the end of the day, we need credible, moderate partners on the ground," Dempsey said. "We certainly won't take any shortcuts on vetting, however, because of the risk that would pose not only to our own forces, but to the ultimate objectives we are trying to achieve."

Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset as part of a religious obligation that is meant to promote self-restraint.

The Pentagon has a plan to train and equip 5,400 “moderate” rebels annually for three years, but it has failed so far.

The program is taking place in Syria’s neighboring countries, including Jordan and Turkey.

Critics say the Obama administration is not capable to produce enough fighters to push Daesh out of Syria.

About 6,000 individuals have so far volunteered for the training program, but only about 1,500 have passed the first stage of selection and await movement to training camps in other countries.

However, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is confident that Washington’s strategy will help defeat Daesh.

"That is the strategy that will both provide for the victory over ISIL [Daesh] or the defeat of ISIL," he said Wednesday. "And then, secondly, and this is very important, for that defeat to stick and endure."

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material

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