By JACK MURPHY 09.14.2016
“Nobody believes in it. You’re like, ‘Fuck this,’” a former Green Beret says of America’s covert and clandestine programs to train and arm Syrian militias. “Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis. No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort, and they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fuck it, who cares?’”
“I don’t want to be responsible for Nusra guys saying they were trained by Americans,” the Green Beret added. A second Special Forces soldier commented that one Syrian militia they had trained recently crossed the border from Jordan on what had been pitched as a large-scale shaping operation that would change the course of the war. Watching the battle on a monitor while a drone flew overhead, “We literally watched them, with 30 guys in their force, run away from three or four ISIS guys.” (sofrep.com)
One of the major points of this article is that the CIA doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq. By the end of 2014 there were only twenty CIA targeting officers and analysts were dedicated to IS. By early 2016, it was not much better. Instead, the CIA neurotically focused on removing Assad from power by any means possible. This laser focus was established by Brennan. I surmise this focus is shared by most in the Obama Administration
In spite of this focus, the CIA’s efforts in Syria is plagued by bureaucratic infighting. The CIA has three elements jockeying for power. The Syria Task Force is similar to the Iraqi Task Force and Iranian Operations Group that preceded it. It is Brennan’s baby. Damascus X is the Syrian CIA station now operating in Amman. And then there is the CTC/SI (Counterterrorist Center/Syria-Iraq), which is tragically focused on the Assad government rather than the terrorists. I have seen this kind of food fight for resources and prestige in the CIA and even in the DIA during the fat money days of the GWOT. I’m sure this cat fight is even more intense in today’s leaner fiscal environment.
As many of you know, the CIA conducts a lot, perhaps most, of their operations through liaison with host nation services. While I’m comfortable with working with the Jordanian services, the thought of depending on the current Turkish intelligence service scares the bejeezus out of me. For several years now,the CIA has relied on Erdogan’s boys to determine which unicorns and jihadis were worthy of getting all the TOWs and other goodies doled out by Brennan under his Title 50 authorities(intelligence/covert ops).
The 5th Special Forces Group arrived in Turkey and Jordan by 2015 to begin training anti-IS rebels under Title 10 authorities (military). Although this appears to be a reasonable mission, it was tripped up by a terrible vetting process. Jack Murphy describes the reaction of one veteran SAS operator sent to work with the 5th Group training program. “He quickly recognized the sorry state of the train, advise, and assist programs in Jordan.” The situation in Turkey was/is much worse. Not only did the 5th Group trainers have to deal with the CIA’s ambivalence towards the anti-IS fight, but they had to work along side the Turks while they were enthusiastically supported IS and other assorted jihadis. The 5th Group soldiers were stuck training would-be terrorists while being commanded by a martinet MP officer more interested in making uniform corrections and chasing down speeders. Needless to say, morale was in the toilet. The charade in Turkey became more absurd when the Green Berets were embedded with the Kurds in Rojava.
When Obama authorized the direct support to the Kurds in Syria, the CIA wanted Delta to perform the mission. Delta turned to 5th Group. The fact that the new 5th Group Commander was a former Delta Commander was probably a major factor in that decision. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but politics and bureaucratic rivalries colored even this decision. Even here, with a mission that is dear to my heart, there are problems. The Kurds have their own combat training program. They resent the efforts of the U.S. to impose a Special Forces training program on them. However they dearly appreciate the weapons and air support. I noted something similar in 1983 Lebanon. We were providing basic combat training to many Lebanese who have been in combat for quite some time. There were times we thought it was a mutually embarrassing situation. That’s what happens when the training programs are planned in Bragg and D.C. rather than by the teams on the ground.
AS a final example of our hot, covert mess in Syria, Jack Murphy notes the plight of Delta which worked under CIA’s Title 50 in Syria. “Delta Force had also been stymied by red tape and bureaucracy as they tried to get into the fight and knock ISIS down a peg… With the CTC at war within itself, they were both trying to prevent their own people from collecting intelligence (lest they find something threatening) and stonewalling any and all Delta Force operations from going forward against ISIS.”
Jack Murphy published this article on his subscription website, SOFREP.com. It was also published on another website without his permission. I read the article on that site before I realized it was done without permission. Jack Murphy is a fellow Green Beannie. Out of courtesy to him, I will not provide a link to that site. Although I am not a joiner by nature, I may break down and subscribe to the SOFREP site. It seems to have some quality content not readily available elsewhere.