United States Senator Deb Fischer calls the Obama Administration strategy to fight the Islamic State a failure.
The assessment comes on the heels of an Armed Services Committee hearing in which U.S. Central Command Commander, General Lloyd Austin III, admitted only four or five trained Syrians remain in the fight against ISIL.
The admission shocked the committee, on which Sen. Fischer serves, and disclosed the dismal results of a program that began with the goal of assembling an army of 5,000 to 12,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight ISIL.
The “train and equip” program began with high aspirations and a $500 million budget. Fischer supported it as did Congress. Instead of thousands, it assembled only 60 troops who were routed in their first conflict, leaving at best five troops.
Fischer says the problem didn’t start with the program. She sees the problem beginning in 2012, when President Barack Obama stated that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be a red line in the escalating crisis sparked by the Syrian civil war.
The United Nations confirmed the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime to kill an estimated 1,400 people in 2013.
“When we have a president who draws the red line in the sand and there’s no follow-up, I think that was the beginning of descent into chaos,” Fischer tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call.
Fischer says the West is just now becoming aware of the real nature of the crisis with the flood of refugees washing up on Europe’s shores. She says it’s no new development, but one that began four years ago; one she observed first-hand when visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey.
The Obama Administration has stated its goal is to degrade and destroy ISIL, also known as ISIS or the Islamic State. Fischer says the steps taken so far will not defeat ISIL. Fischer says the root of the problem seems to be the strategy does not connect with events on the ground.
Fischer says it is time for the president to consider other options.
“But, I just do not think that we can continue down the path that we’re on now with half efforts that result in failure.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]