World Bulletin / News Desk
Vetting requirements has caused setbacks in recruitıng Syrians into a train-and-equip program, U.S. defense leaders admitted Wednesday.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter cited a range of reasons for the setbacks while acknowledging that only one fraction of Syrian opposition groups among the many willing to be trained by Americans could pass the vetting process.
He said the vetting requirements have resulted in "quite a diminution in the numbers".
Among those requirements is that oppositions must be willing to fight ISIL. “And that is the principal purpose of their being trained and equipped," Carter told reporters at a Pentagon press conference.
Syrian opposition groups have insisted on fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad as well as the ISIL armed group.
Approximately 6,000 Syrians have applied to the program, according to Pentagon data, but currently only about 100 have been accepted while 4,000 are still waiting to be vetted. About 1,500 other have completed the preliminary vetting process.
Despite the low number of recruits, the Pentagon said it is not considering any changes to the vetting process simply to increase recruitment numbers.
"We certainly won't take any shortcuts on vetting, however, because of the risk that would pose not only to our own forces, but to the ultimate objectives we are trying to achieve," said Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dempsey cited the current Islamic month of fasting as another reason for the low number of oppositions in the program.
"It's Ramadan; there's a lot of folks that are interested in being with their families during that period, and so we may see after Ramadan that some of the ones we lost may come back," he said.Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2015, 09:05