WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 —
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed his gratitude to Congress last night for its “swift action” to give the Defense Department the authority to begin training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition.
In a statement released after the Senate sent the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature, Hagel said the train-and-equip program is a key element of the president's comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“While it will take time to strengthen the moderate Syrian opposition forces, they and the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces are central to confronting ISIL,” the secretary said. “The U.S. military will work closely with regional partners, including Saudi Arabia, to recruit and vet the opposition forces, and we will continue to build and sustain a broad coalition to implement our strategy.”