Larsen Votes in Favor of Training and Equipping Syrian Opposition Forces

Sep 17, 2014 Issues: Supporting our Naval Bases,

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today voted in favor of training and equipping moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Larsen, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has received regular briefings about ISIL and the threat it poses. He asked the administration this week to consider lessons learned from past efforts to train and equip indigenous fighters.

“The rise of the terrorist group ISIL poses a serious threat to Iraqis, Syrians and the Middle East. Our friends and allies in the region want U.S. assistance in beating back ISIL. If ISIL is allowed to grow, they could become a direct threat to the U.S. 

“As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have closely observed other train and equip efforts around the world over the last 13 years. I wanted to be clear with the administration about my concerns with this strategy to ensure it takes into consideration important lessons learned, particularly from our military’s time in Afghanistan.

“Coalition airstrikes will be more effective if Iraqi and Syrian forces can reinforce them on the ground. In Iraq, ground support is provided by the newly formed Iraqi government’s military forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga. The U.S. can help develop similar forces in Syria with careful vetting, training and equipping of moderate opposition forces.

“To move toward greater stability in the region, Iraqis and Syrians must be the ones to push back against ISIL. The U.S. can provide support with targeted airstrikes and assistance in building the capacity of these indigenous forces,” Larsen said.