Obama Taps Star General To Build Syrian Rebel Army to Fight ISIS by Josh Rogin and Eli Lake, The Daily Beast
As lawmakers prepared to take a risky and fateful vote on Obama’s plan to train and equip the Syrian rebels, the man who assured them it could be done was Gen. Michael Nagata, Obama’s point man for the mission to build an ISIS-killing army in Syria.
There are skeptics both inside and outside the government who doubt Obama’s new plan to arm the Syrian rebels can work. First of all, the administration has said for years that the moderate opposition can’t be a reliable partner for the United States in Syria. Only last month, Obama said that the rag-tag bunch of “former doctors, farmers, and pharmacists” could never win their civil war and the whole idea that arming them earlier would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy.”
Then Obama made a complete reversal, announced that portions of the Free Syrian Army were now vetted enough to help the U.S. fight against ISIS, and called on Congress to vote to give him authority train and arm them. Congress went along, but only after hearing from Nagata, who briefed both House and Senate members and staffers in classified settings and told them how he would get it done. Those briefed said they were impressed by the General but remained concerned Obama’s plan was fatally flawed.
Nagata has experience in the area. U.S. military officials say Nagata helped devise much of U.S. special operations support for Jordan. These officials also say Nagata also has worked on plans with the CIA at the secret Jordanian base used to train up Syrian rebels under the still secret but well reported joint DOD-CIA program that began in 2012. Nagata is currently in charge of special operations command for Central Command, the military command that includes Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran…