Senators emerged Thursday from a classified briefing with sharp critiques of the Obama administration’s plans to arm and train Syrian rebels.
“Literally, this does make Pickett’s Charge look like a good idea,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after leaving a closed-door Armed Services Committee briefing. “The idea of degrading and destroying ISIL with this strategy is an illusion.”
Graham says the administration’s plan to take vetted Syrian rebels out of that country and train and provide them weapons in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar is akin to US Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee ordering Lt. Gen. Longstreet to lead an ill-fated charge on the final day of the American Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg.
Longstreet advised against the plan, and lost over 2,500 soldiers. Nearly 900 more were wounded.
“The problem does not lie with the [US] military. It lies with the political leadership,” Graham said of the Obama administration. “This is militarily immoral what we’re doing. We’re about to train people for certain death.
“The idea that we’re going to get people to fight [the Islamic State] only, given the fact that most of them want to rid the country of Assad and [IS] is absurd,” he said. “Number two, if you don’t support these people, if they don’t have an air force, they don’t have capability, these are going to be light-infantry people at best. If I’m Assad, I would take the first recruits we send and kill them in the cradle.”
He also doubts the number of recruits for the train-and-equip program will be enough to counter Islamic State fighters and Assad’s forces.
“The numbers that you would need to a serious change of momentum? Years away,” Graham said. “The concept is fatally flawed. The concept of training an army that would be slaughtered by two enemies … is militarily unsound.
“The inability of this administration to understand that Assad is not going to sit on the sidelines and watch us build up an army that can beat ISIL and then turn on him without doing something at a critical moment is beyond absurd,” said Graham, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate.
Read More:Senators Criticize Obama’s ISIS Strategy.