$250 Million Tax Dollars Spent to Train Only 60 Syrian Rebels Against Islamic State, $4 Million Per Rebel

Rebel fighters who recently joined the Failaq al-Rahman brigade take part in a training session with fake weapons at a camp in Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region before being sent to the front lines, on July 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY (Photo credit should read
Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images

In the past year Congress set aside $500 million to provide equipment and training for 5,400 Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State terrorist group. But thus far only 60 rebel fighters have been trained, costing U.S. tax payers $4 million per trainee.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) released an annual report uncovering waste, fraud and abuse of American tax dollars by the federal government, Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball. The report exposed that the Department of Defense (DOD) spent half of the $500 million to train only 60 Syrian rebel fighters.

“In other words DOD spent about $4 million per rebel,” the report states. “This resounding lack of success is likely why on October 9, 2015, the Obama Administration announced a ‘pause’ in the program to reevaluate how the U.S. would support those fighting against ISIL. In a press release, DOD announced it would begin to provide equipment and weapons to select rebel leaders instead of training them.”

Lankford’s report states the Department of Defense “should not have taken a year and $250 million to figure that out” and suggests the DOD evaluate its programs at every stage to avoid wasted U.S. tax dollars; however, it adds that the “federal government absolutely needs to support those who fight on the ground against this terrorist group.”

Lankford acknowledges that a “clear Syria strategy is long overdue” from the Obama administration.

“Americans can see the obvious threat, and most Americans understand that sending 60 rebels into Syria at a cost of $4 million each is not a winning strategy,” the report concluded.


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