Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Administration Continues Failed Syrian Equip Program
News Release from Office of Rep Tulsi Gabbard
Washington, DC—Following the Administration’s announcement regarding changes to the Syria train and equip program, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and twice-deployed combat veteran, released the following statement:
“The complete and utter failure of this poorly conceived program was predictable from the start, which is why I spoke out strongly against it, and opposed it when it came before Congress last year. The Administration had no defined objectives, no effective strategy, and no way to ensure that these fighters and the weapons, ammunition, and equipment we provided them would not end up in the hands of ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and other Islamic extremist groups who are our enemy.
“Now, rather than end this failed program, the Administration has decided to continue providing equipment to so-called ‘moderate Syrian leaders’ who will give these weapons to whomever they like, increasing the likelihood that American taxpayer-funded weapons and equipment will end up in the hands of our enemy: al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIS, whose goal is to overthrow Assad and establish an Islamic state.”
Citing her repeated efforts to arm Kurdish Forces, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “The Administration continues to put our resources toward failed missions and strengthening our enemy, rather than focusing on defeating our enemy and directly arming and equipping the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria who have consistently been our trusted, effective, fighting force on the ground against Islamic extremists.
“Moreover, until the White House comes to Congress for authorization to go to war against the sovereign nation of Syria, their actions to use taxpayer dollars to support anti-Assad fighters constitutes an illegal war that the American people have not debated or approved.
“We need to remember who the enemy is—al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS, and other Islamic extremists—all of whom are presently trying to overthrow the government of Assad, take over all of Syria, and establish an Islamic State.”
Last year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted against the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after a provision was inserted into the bill to authorize $500 million to train and arm Syrian rebels. In September 2015, the Pentagon confirmed that the US had only trained and fielded into battle “4 or 5” of these Syrian rebels.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard co-sponsored an amendment to the FY16 NDAA to immediately provide weapons and equipment to the Kurdish Peshmerga. She is also an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1654, to authorize and expedite all necessary military equipment, weapons, and ammunition to the Kurdish Peshmerga to defeat ISIS.