Rebels With A Cause

By Tony Bertuca / September 12, 2014 at 6:47 PM

The Pentagon believes the $500 million it has requested from Congress to begin training Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia would be enough for 5,000 fighters over the course of one year, according to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Defense Department's top spokesman.

"That would be in phases; it wouldn't all be all at once," he told reporters today at the Pentagon. "The training itself would not take a full year, but we think that we could get more than 5,000 done in more than one year."

Kirby noted, however, that the Pentagon must first locate, vett and recruit moderate members of the Syrian force opposed to the regime of Bashar al Assad and the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria.

"Nobody is underestimating the challenge of having that done and done well," he said. "The Syrian opposition is not a monolithic group. It's not a recognized military force. There is no single recognized leader of the opposition. . . . There's no easy answers here."

Kirby added that the vetting process would likely take “a number of months” before training could actually begin.

Meanwhile, the CIA estimates that the ranks of ISIS have swollen to approximately 31,000.

As previously reported by, the Pentagon remains focused on getting Congress to appropriate the $500 million necessary to train the Syrian rebels.