Plan Coming Together (Updated)

By Tony Bertuca / September 15, 2014 at 7:43 PM

The Pentagon is finalizing a plan to vet and train moderate Syrian rebels to combat militant extremists in Iraq as well as the regime of Bashar al Assad, according to a Defense Department spokesman.

"There are certainly objectives," Col. Steve Warren told reporters today at the Pentagon. "We'd be training Syrians to perform three functions: A local security function to hold and defend liberated territories from [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]; an offensive function to increase pressure on ISIL as well as the regime; and a counterextremist function capable of conducting potentially some specific counterterror operations."

The White House has requested $500 million from Congress to enable DOD to begin vetting and training more than 5,000 Syrian rebels over the course of one year. The training is slated to take place in Saudi Arabia, though the details have not yet been worked out, Warren said.

A congressional aide expected the House Armed Services Committee to release language "tonight or tomorrow" laying out the specifics with regard to how the $500 million should be spent and what reporting requirements DOD must follow.

(UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Committee Chairman Buck McKeon released the amendment bill language. Click here to view it.)

President Obama is scheduled to visit the headquarters of U.S. Central Command tomorrow to discuss the strategy, while Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey will testify before the House Armed Services Committee.