Tags: allen | isis | defeat | years | away

Ret. Gen. John Allen: ISIS Defeat 'Could Take Years'

Thursday, 02 October 2014 08:21 AM

The retired marine general who will lead the international coalition against the Islamic State has warned that it could take years to train moderate Syrian rebels to defeat the Sunni extremists.

"It is going to take a while - it could take years, actually," Ret. Gen. John Allen told CNN in his first interview since being named by President Barack Obama as the person who will head the coalition in the war with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. "And so we have to manage our expectations."

Last month Congress approved White House plans to train and arm 5,000 vetted Syrian rebels, which is likely to take at least eight months. Saudi Arabia has already agreed to provide a training ground to U.S. forces.

“The process of getting that unfolded is occurring right now, with the idea of locating training camps and beginning to accumulate the Syrian elements that will go into those training camps, ensuring that we¹ve got the right kind of combination of trainers who can provide the substance that they're going to need to be credible and capable fighters on the ground as time goes on," said Gen. Allen.

But skeptics fear that U.S. weapons will be captured by ISIS or that the rebels will use their training and arms to first attack troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to The Hill.

However, Gen. Allen said, "We're seeking to create the capacity within the Free Syrian elements and the Syrian opposition so that, first of all, they can defend themselves from the Assad regime and from the other al-Qaida oriented organizations in the battle space.”

As far as Iraq is concerned, he envisions a "territorially intact and sovereign Iraq, governed by the government in Baghdad, that governs all Iraqis, not just one sect, not just one confession."

He went on to say, “It's actually an important moment where so many countries from so many different backgrounds share that view [of the ISIS threat], that this is an opportunity to create partnership across those lines of effort that would achieve real effect."

Allen served as deputy commander in Iraq's Anbar province and as deputy commander for U.S. Central Command. He was also the commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013.

While he was in Iraq, he teamed up with Sunni tribal leaders, known as the Anbar Awakening, to help defeat al-Qaida in Iraq. And he said that he expected that the tribes will eventually help to drive out ISIS as well.

“The one thing I know for sure is just as I learned by watching al-Qaida work on the ground in Anbar in 2007 is that there will come the time when ISIS cannot tolerate the tribal structure within ISIS territory because that tribal structure is in direct opposition to the full exertion of ISIS influence over the population, and ISIS will turn on the tribes as sure as the sun will come tomorrow.”

He added, "So the tribes recognized this in a very real way, and I think within their own capabilities we're already seeing tribes that are rising up against ISIS. We're already seeing tribes that are coordinating with the other elements within the Iraqi security forces to achieve effect against ISIS. And there are tribes out there ready to go."

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The retired marine general who will lead the international coalition against the Islamic State has warned that it could take years to train moderate Syrian rebels to defeat the Sunni extremists. It is going to take a while - it could take years, actually, Gen. John Allen...
allen, isis, defeat, years, away
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2014-21-02
Thursday, 02 October 2014 08:21 AM
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