U.S. spent more to train each Syrian fighter than U.S. Special Operators

(Left) A Syrian child who became a fighter after his parents were killed in 2013. (Right) An unnamed U.S. Soldier poses with a Carl Gustaf.

The Pentagon’s failed Syria program has been shut down – but not before the government spent $384 million on training and equipping Syrian fighters. According to USA Today figures, that breaks down to $2 million per trainee.

According to Special Operations Command (SOCOM), training a U.S. special operator costs about $250,000.

The Syria program was suspended due to “poor results” but had it continued, the Pentagon was going to designate $500 million for 2015, to graduate 3,000 Syrians in the fight against ISIS.

That was the plan. But it turns out, of the 180 Syrians that were trained, only 145 remain in the program.

The Pentagon disputes the two-million-per-trainee figure. A spokeswoman says it cost only  $30,000 to train each fighter. Most of the money, she adds, went to pay for weapons, equipment and ammunition, which was turned over to other forces.

The Pentagon reportedly earmarked tens of millions of dollars to build training camps that were rarely used. According to the USA Today article, two of the four camps “never hosted a recruit.”

“It’s clear to everyone now that this initial program was a failure,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a member of the Armed Services Committee. “My hope is that Pentagon leaders have taken the lessons of this failure to heart as they pursue a different approach in Syria.”

Other members of Congress agreed with McCaskill, saying the Syria ‘train and equip’ process was wasteful and not very well thought out.

Analysts say the problem to begin with was the very small pool of eligible candidates. The restrictions placed on Syrians eligible for training “doomed it to failure.”  For one, trainees had to be free of any links to one of Bashar Assad’s main opponents, Al Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Pentagon has now shifted its attention to other rebel groups who are already fighting ISIL – and will deploy 50 U.S. commandos to help.

© 2015 Bright Mountain Media, Inc. 

All rights reserved. The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at media@brightmountainmedia.com


  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

Post navigation