November 28, 2014

U.S. will use psych evaluations, stress tests to screen Syrian rebels for training

By Dafna Rand

Journalist(s) Missy Ryan

The U.S. military will subject Syrian rebels taking part in a new training program to psychological evaluations, biometrics checks and stress tests under a screening plan that goes well beyond the steps the United States normally takes to vet foreign soldiers, a sign of the risks the Obama administration faces as it expands support for armed groups in Syria.

Officials said the screening program, developed chiefly by the U.S. Central Command, will rely on what was described as a “common core” of screening protocols, including running trainees’ names through U.S. and foreign intelligence databases, collecting biometric data and, when possible, seeking information from fighters’ home communities. Rebel commanders will be subject to additional screening.

“In the special operations community, we have a pretty long history of vetting and screening surrogate forces that we’ve worked with,” said an official at CENTCOM, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe planning.

But the new plan “is unique to Syria, because we’re going to work with folks that we won’t accompany once we employ them,” he said. “So vetting and screening becomes even more important.”

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

  • Dafna Rand