According to reports, the president is weighing a plan that would engage U.S. troops to train Syrian rebels, enhancing their military skills and capabilities. The big question remains: would Marines be tapped to conduct such training?
According to Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press, “any training would take place outside Syria, and one possible location would be Jordan.”
If approved, this training would expand on work being done to train small groups of rebels in Jordan in the use of communications equipment and certain weapons systems, according to her report.
“The new discussions center on whether the U.S. military should take over the mission so that hundreds or thousands can be trained, rather than just dozens,” Baldor writes.
“Any new training program conducted by the U.S. military would take time to put in place and likely would not begin until after any potential military action had been taken in response to the recent chemical weapons attack. It would require getting approvals from the host country, finding appropriate locations, getting the right number of personnel in place to conduct the training and setting up a vetting system to insure that instruction was not provided to any rebel groups that may not be friendly to the U.S.”
While the heady logistics–including a reported potential $500 million-per-year price tag–make the prospect of training Syrian rebels a far-from-certain possibility, it may well be a future job for the Marines.
Troops with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were just in Jordan in June for 12-day exercise Eager Lion, which involved partner training missions with the Jordanian armed forces, as well as reconnaissance, field, and aircraft training exercises. These kinds of coalition training exercises are common for deployed MEUs. Over the last decade, Marines have also taken an active role in training Iraqi troops and Afghan National Army soldiers as the U.S. has worked to transition control for ongoing missions back to local authorities.
The U.S. reportedly played a role in training the militaries of 33 different countries in 2012. Much of this training was conducted by the Army, which has dedicated elements to complete such missions. The mission statement of the Army’s Special Forces element, the Green Berets, includes advising and training foreign militaries. But at this point, it’s all just speculation on a yet-to-be-made decision.
What do you think? Could this be a future mission for the Marine Corps?