In its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request, the US Department of Defense requested $1 billion of funding for its Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF).
“The role of the US Department of Defense in Syria is to ensure the sustained defeat of ISIL, acting mainly“ with the help, together and through” our partners. Within the framework of the Ministry of Defense’s approach, priorities such as equipping, supplying and expanding the capabilities of local forces belonging to proven groups of the Syrian opposition are of key importance,” the budget for 2020 read.
This is relegated in the following way:
- $745 million to assist the Iraqi Security forces to combat the ISIS they announced as defeated in the country at the end of 2017;
- $300 million to assist the Vetted Syrian Opposition (the US-backed Kurdish forces such as the Syrian Democratic Forces, its core the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) [and indirectly the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)] and other moderate rebels) who are to combat the ISIS which as of March 20th is allegedly defeated;
However, a further $250 million was requested by the Pentagon to fund a “border security force” in Syria. Thus, in total $550 million will be relegated to supporting US-backed forces in Syria, throughout 2020 to “ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS.”
“The FY 2020 CTEF budget request strengthens the security capabilities of DOD partners countering ISIS to secure territory liberated from ISIS and counter future ISIS threats by training and equipping partner security forces. The training, equipment, and operational support in this request will facilitate the consolidation of gains achieved against ISIS and prevent its reemergence,” the Pentagon budget request reads.
The over-all Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget request is $173.8 billion. The request for the fight against ISIS in 2020 is $6.9 billion, which is exactly $2 billion less than the sum requested for FY2019.
The total budget would be used for the following:
- Sustaining personnel forward deployed to the Middle East to continue operations to ensure an enduring defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and allow flexibility for a deliberate, coordinated, disciplined withdrawal from Syria. Meaning that withdrawal from Syria is still planned, but it would also be “in progress” in 2020;
- Building the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian opposition forces to counter ISIS in support of the United States’ comprehensive regional strategy. Meaning that US has no plans of fully removing itself from Iraq in the near future as well;
The foreseen direct war costs for Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, as well as the fight against ISIS stand at $25.4 billion.
This sum “reflects combat or combat support costs that are not expected to continue once combat operations end at major contingency locations. Includes in-country war support for Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS) in Afghanistan and Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) in Iraq and Syria. Funds partnership programs such as the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF), the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF), the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), and Middle East border security.”
It is interesting to note that the Department of Defense spent more ammunitions in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria than initially anticipated.
The 2020 budget request also reflects a $104.9 billion increase from the FY 2019 OCO enacted level of $68.8 billion largely due to the realignment of base budget requirements into the OCO budget and addition of $9.2 billion in emergency requirements.
Out of this almost threefold increased budget, $14.2 billion would be used for pay of personnel, trainings, communications and equipment for the operations in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
The in-theater support was requested at $20 billion, for Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. But also, “This category also includes funding to support other operations conducted outside Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.” Meaning that the money could be used for quite literally anything, anywhere in the world.
Thus, funding for US-backed forces in Syria appears to be at the “low” amount of $300 million, but at a closer glance it becomes $550 million, and then it becomes a much larger, unspecified amount.
According to political scientist Alexander Asafov, USA, stating its intention to withdraw its troops from Syria, are now looking for options to maintain its presence in the country. To do this, they changed the format of its operations.
“Now in Syria will change the format. It will not be military personnel, and instructors. Not the military, and some forces provide, perhaps, civilian specialists.
But in any case, the U.S. will retain presence in the region, because the primary strategy States are not met. Of course, a formal withdrawal would take place, but the very presence under the guise of helping the opposition, the Kurds, under the guise of fighting with the remaining cells of the IG will continue. Influence in the region is the US part of the interests of national security,” Asafov said.
And, in fact, despite the announcement of ISIS defeat in Syria, US troops remained in the country.
According to Dmitry Solonnikov, Washington intends to maintain influence in Syria, although it promises to withdraw troops from the Arab Republic.
“The United States promised to leave the region, and this is a principled position that Donald Trump voiced several times. He will probably bring forth the living strength, but the US’s full interest in Syria is not lost. It is maintained and will be turned around through various institutions: both through the US military bases in Jordan and Iraq, and through the support of the armed forces controlled by the United States on the territory of Syria itself, and through the support of Israel. The United States does not remove its influence in Syria, ”the expert concluded.
Russia repeatedly pointed out the reality of the situation. “Despite the clear statement by the President of the United States in this regard, specific measures to implement this decision yet, as we have seen, not taken”, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Russian Foreign Sergey Lavrov also stressed that the United States under the pretext of a joint Kurdish armed forces fight the militants intend to establish a quasi-state on the East Bank of the Euphrates river.
“Their goal now is becoming more and more obvious — to divide Syria and create on the Eastern shore of the quasi-state. They already are actively investing, including forcing the allies to pay for the arrangement of this part of the SAR”, — said Lavrov.
And the budget request shows it, the withdrawal will be on-going throughout 2019 and 2020. And in justification, the budget request stated that the effectiveness of the US-backed moderate rebels depends on US support.
“The combat readiness, mobility and efficiency of the tested groups of the Syrian opposition are directly dependent on US support, which is provided in particular in the form of weapons, ammunition and other equipment. The Ministry of defence is engaged in equipping these groups to protect and retain the areas previously held by ISIS, as well as reduce the probability of the return of these territories under the control of ISIS.”
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