Defense News quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on why the US train and equip program in Syria was never likely to be successful:

“Train and equip as conceived by the White House was mission impossible from the beginning,” said Frederic Hof, a former senior adviser on Syria for the Obama administration, now with the Atlantic Council. “The formula of recruiting people [nationalist rebels] who had been hammered for four years by the Assad regime to fight exclusively against ISIL was an elegant Washington maneuver totally disconnected from the reality on the ground inside Syria.”


Former administration official Hof faulted the overly cautious vetting process for fighters, which seemed most concerned about avoiding the embarrassment of a US-armed fighter crossing over to the other side.

“Had we used such a process to screen members of the French Resistance in World War II we would not have air-dropped or sea-lifted a single rifle,” Hof said. “These operations are complex and messy.”

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