Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel could face tough questioning Tuesday as Congress considers the president’s plan to train and equip fighters inside Syria.
Last year, Dempsey wrote a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that he supported developing moderate Syrian forces, but outlining dangers within the plan.
Lawmakers could face a vote on whether to authorize the training and equipping program as early as this week, and some are reluctant to do so amid concerns that weapons provided to the forces may end up in the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday called the plan a “mistake.”
“It’s a mistake to arm them. Most of the arms we’ve given to the so-called moderate rebels have wound up in the hands of ISIS, because ISIS simply takes it from them, or it’s given to them, or we mistakenly actually give it to some of the radicals,” Paul said on CBS.
The administration has publicly released few details of the proposal to date.
The plan calls for arming and training “more than 5,000” moderate Syrians over one year, in a nation aside from Syria, the Pentagon said Monday.
The White House has asked for $500 million for the program, but Dempsey said in 2013 that that would be the cost “initially.”
Dempsey and Hagel are both set to testify Tuesday and expected to outline the international support for the U.S. plan.