U.S. military officials are considering ways to ramp up training of Syrian fighters against the Islamic State as the Pentagon moves cautiously forward with a revamped program to create an effective local ground force.
Several U.S. officials, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing military efforts, described the steps the Pentagon has taken since late last year, when the Obama administration abandoned an earlier Syria training plan. After repeated setbacks to that program, which aimed to create an army of Syrian fighters from scratch, officials settled on a different approach, one that would train only small numbers of leaders or other key personnel from local units who could act as a liaison with U.S. and allied forces attacking the Islamic State from the air.
Since the original program was revised, U.S. military personnel have trained fewer than 100 additional fighters, mostly outside of Syria, officials said. Those trained are specialized fighters whom military officials describe as “spotters” rather than ordinary infantry troops. […]