On January 15, the United States confirmed it is sending approximately 400 soldiers to train the “moderate” Syrian opposition.
Troops working out of Qatar, Saudia Arabia, and Turkey are expected to train opposition forces beginning in early spring.
According to the Army Times, Commander Elissa Smith announced the deployment but “did not have information on which services would be providing the trainers.” Smith also said “enablers” would have to accompany the trainers. Defense One reports the enablers will total in the “hundreds.”
Coalition forces are also expected to help with the training, creating a contingent capable of training “about 5,400 rebel forces each year for three years.”
This deployment comes as the Obama administration faces increasing criticism for its inaction in Syria. It also follows “the growing recognition that the US-led airstrike campaign against [ISIS] has not been effective.”
Shortly after the airstrike campaign began, retired US General David Petraeus warned that boots on the ground would be required to defeat ISIS in Iraq. Even then, Petraeus said the battle would take years.
On the other hand, Bloomberg.com reported that the retired General said it would take “many years” to win in Syria.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins Reach him directly at email@example.com.