Pentagon funding bill on Obama’s

│MiddleEastCouncil.org│he defense funding bill for 2016 includes some lavish support to rebels in Syria and lethal aid to the current Ukrainian government. Although President Barack Obama is at loggerheads with lawmakers over some of the provisions, they are likely to remain.

Obama has threatened to veto the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act – also known as House Resolution 1735, or the NDAA – because it contains provisions blocking the plans to shut down the detention camp at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, and because it avoids a cap on defense spending by padding a special account reserved for bankrolling wars. The Senate passed the NDAA on Wednesday with a veto-proof majority.
While the White House and the lawmakers are in dispute over the details, they appear to be in agreement on continuing to send military aid to the regime in Ukraine and the elusive“moderate rebels” in Syria.
Some $600 million has been earmarked for a program to support the “appropriately vetted”Syrian rebels, fighting against both the government in Damascus and Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL).
Section 1225 of the NDAA allocates $531.5 million directly to the Syria Train and Equip program, and directs an additional $25.8 million to the US Army and $42.8 million to the US Air Force, to cover the costs of their participation.
The 2015 version of the NDAA allocated $500 million for the training and equipping of“moderate rebels.” Though the Pentagon hoped to have a force of 5,000 fighters by the end of 2015, the program has produced only a handful – literally. Top US military officials admitted only “five or six” rebels remained in combat after the first group was scattered by Al-Nusra terrorists in July. The second batch of rebels surrendered to Al-Nusra last month, with all their US-provided gear.
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