By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 – The training effort for Syrian moderates will stress three things: defending their communities, going after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, and taking on the Assad regime, the Pentagon press secretary said today.
The process -- from vetting those eligible to finishing the military training -- will take a long time, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a news conference.
“It’s going to take a period of months to work our way through that process -- probably three to five months is the best estimate -- before the vetting process is complete, and we know we've got a body of willing, capable partners to work within the Syrian moderate opposition,” Kirby said. “Then there will be probably a period of eight to 12 months of actual training and fielding.”
That’s how long it will take before capable opposition fighters return to Syria to take on ISIL, Kirby said. But now that the Defense Department has the authorization and the funds that go with it, that work will start immediately, he added.
Training camp in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia will host the training camp in an already established facility, the admiral said. “We’re grateful for that,” he said. “Now, we're going to move forward on getting that train and equip mission up.”
Kirby stressed that the coalition forming to take on ISIL is growing, with more than 40 nations involved. “Each of them are contributing what they can, given their own capacities and limitations and the desires of their populations,” he said.
Some partners -- like France -- are willing to participate in military action. French President Francois Hollande announced this morning that French fighter aircraft launched airstrikes against ISIL.
Other nations will contribute to humanitarian or resupply efforts, Kirby said. “Some are contributing monetary donations of aid,” he added. “Everybody is doing something different. And that’s OK. We’re not going to dictate terms to these nations as they sign up to do things.”
Some of the nations are “evolving” their participation, the press secretary told reporters. Some early contributors now are willing to contribute more, he said. “The French are a great example of that,” he added, and I think we’re going to continue to see that happen.”