We likely missed any possible chance to successfully work with the Syrian resistance two or more years ago. Now we are even less likely to be successful given the changing conditions but we are in the position that we just have to "do something" and do it perhaps for the wrong reasons.
I would be interested in reading this study. I suspect; however, some of the reasons for failure include not conducting a thorough assessment of the resistance potential of organizations and movements and as in Syria today, and doing too little, too late. One aspect of the study I would be interested in reading about are situations where our assessment of the resistance potential by qualified personnel resulted in a decision not to support because the assessment showed little chance of success or the resistance movement's objectives could not be aligned with our interests. I doubt anyone really looks at this aspect. But that is the reason why I argue that one of the important missions for both the agency and the SOF community is to be continually assessing the resistance potential of current, nascent and potential future resistance organizations. By understanding the resistance that exists around the world we will be in a better position to develop strategic options and avoid many of the pitfalls we have experienced and that this report will likely show. But the problem really lies with policy makers who grasp at straws and want to "do something" and then force the intelligence community and SOF to conduct long duration unconventional warfare operations "in extremis." A modification of one of the SOF truths is that it is hard to conduct effective UW by beginning UW operations after crises occur. (of course Afghanistan 2001 might be considered an exception by some but the reality is that the success of OEF from October 2001 to January 2002 rested on the foundation of relationships built prior to 9-11 that allowed for at least sufficient understanding of the resistance potential.)
C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels
An internal C.I.A. study has found that it rarely works.WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.
The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.
The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.
But in April 2013, President Obama authorized the C.I.A. to begin a program to arm the rebels at a base in Jordan, and more recently the administration decided to expand the training mission with a larger parallel Pentagon program in Saudi Arabia to train “vetted” rebels to battle fighters of the Islamic State, with the aim of training approximately 5,000 rebel troops per year.
So far the efforts have been limited, and American officials said that the fact that the C.I.A. took a dim view of its own past efforts to arm rebel forces fed Mr. Obama’s reluctance to begin the covert operation.
“One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?” said one former senior administration official who participated in the debate and spoke anonymously because he was discussing a classified report. The C.I.A. report, he said, “was pretty dour in its conclusions.”
(Continued at the link below)