Where is the defense budget going?
Written by Rachel Lane exclusively for SouthFront
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in an interview with CNN last Sunday he would like to see the Mideast Allies step up in the fight against ISIS, going on to say “This is one of the great ironies, which is the countries of the region have made the least contributions to the counter-[Islamic State] coalition, including the Gulf countries.”
Remembering back to last summer, to a Senate Hearing on the White House ISIS Strategy, to what seemed like an embarrassing moment for Secretary Carter. In this video from Roll Call he testified under oath to the US Senate there were only about 60 Syrian fighters who were being trained through the US Train and Equip program. Then in September General Austin testified that only four or five trainees had made it through the training to be reinserted into the moderate rebel fighting groups. That’s a significant level of attrition.
For those of us who are not so familiar with the US Train and Equip Program for Syria, I’ve attached the congressional Research Service document outlining this program. The funding for this specific program is quite large considering the number of fighters who were being trained. Below is the initial funding the military received in order to complete their program through 2016. This is a small excerpt from the summary:
“As of June 2015, the defense committees have approved the transfer of $500 million in FY2015 CTPF funds for the program and an additional $80 million in Defense Working Capital Funds for related U.S. government operations. Several hundred U.S. military training personnel and a similar number of support personnel have deployed in support of the program. According to Administration officials, the intention is for the program to field a force of approximately 3,000 vetted Syrians in 2015 and 5,400 others per year in 2016 and, if authorized, in 2017. The authority provided in the FY2015 NDAA expires after December 31, 2016.”
However, the tax payer’s generous amount of 580 Million to train these 60 fighters seemed to be inadequate.
“In FY2016, the Administration is requesting $600 million in a new, separate Syria Train and Equip account that, if authorized and appropriated as requested, would not require advance notification and approval by the four defense committees.”
The American people have now funded 1.18 Billion Dollars. “The Strategy for defeating ISIL on the ground in Syria and Iraq is to train and enable local forces,” according to SecDef. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff calls this strategy the “Silver Bullet.”
Yet with all this money and additional forces on the ground, it seems a good down-home wrestling match is in the SecDef’s future. What’s the disagreement over? It’s over how to spend that 580-billion-dollar military budget of course. Politico reports the top brass at the Pentagon disagrees with the expenditures the SecDef is favoring. It seems the SecDef is going to need to convince the US allies in the Gulf Region to be even more involved than they have already proven -not to be.