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05 December 2016


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FB Ali

A real display of sang froid. pl

Peter AU

pl, tiger forces (I take it they are a Syrian special forces unit) have taken ground wherever they were placed from early on. The Desert Hawks, a mercenary force, similar though not well publicised perhaps because of their penchant for taking hairy heads after a successfully jihadi hunting expedition.
The Russian input seems to be in the improvement of the regular army, but the major input is in reconciliation. At the start of Russia's entry into Syria, gains by the Syrian army seemed to be occupying hostile ground. Russia's actions to date have brought out the true colours of the jihadi's so that now the civilian population feel that they are being liberated when the Syrian army (what can now be termed liberation) liberates the area.

What is happening in Syria is similar to what Putin done in Chechnya. Putin backed the traditional Chechen's against the wahhabi wannabes. Understanding and respecting tradition Chechen Islam? and holding to his word? Putin now has intense loyalty from Kadrov junior.
I think a very similar operation is underway in Syria. Putin's Russia is putting Syria back together. A Syria that will be immune to Saudi/US backed jihadi's

Balint Somkuti, PhD

For me, a theroretical person with little formal military training and lacking deeper knowledge about middle eatern land armies the mixture of uniforms, the numerous US pattern woodland camo clothings came quite as a surprise as well as the machine gunner's kevlar helmet and suppressing fire from the hip.

Please also take note of the rare Kalashnikov variant which is shown in the still at the beginning of the video and also at 0:43-0:45. Still trying to figure out its exact type.


I think India's also said it will do something.


Russia does not have the economic strength necessary to rebuild Syria -- while simultaneously dealing with its own internal economic imbalances.

China does have massive financial reserves, economic diversity (basically China can provide almost everything in terms of infrastructure and consumer goods), and capacity (actually, the country suffers from overcapacity).

But why would China do it? What is in it for China? Not hydrocarbons -- whatever fields are in Syria, whatever pipelines cross the country, they are directed towards Europe. As a link in the much-touted "New Silk Road"? All proposed paths for this project avoid Syria.

I am afraid Syrians will live in ruins for a long time.


Suspect it could be Col al-Hassan (the Tiger). He wears his cap in a unique way, pulled forward.


Hassan packs a side-arm in a leg holster. I think it's visible around 0:20.

alba etie

Outrage Beyond
A bigger concern for the IDF then the Golan Heights may be the next time the Likudniks decide to mount another Operation Cast Lead and the R +6 armed and trained militias are waiting just over that next rise..

alba etie

Col Lang
Could India also have a hand in rebuilding Syria ?

El Sid

Too true.

I may be a lefty and pacifist, but that doesn't mean I don't support the poor squadies having to do a dirty job.

And appreciate it when they do professional work.

Good news all round I'd say.


"Russia, China block UNSC resolution on Aleppo truce"


SST members

On the subject of a new force in the Levant, see also this report (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/4000-fresh-syrian-army-soldiers-graduate-officer-training-school/) about the new graduating class of second lieutenants (or its equivalent rank in the Syrian Army).

What I find interesting is the sheer size of the graduating class, which is "4000+", with a second one coming in April of next year. For comparison, this year the entire US Army commissioned 4,223 second lieutenants from all sources , if I'm reading this http://www.people.mil/Portals/56/Documents/tfprq/FY17%20DMRR%20Final.pdf correctly. (Current class of West Point is a little over 1,000.)

Now obviously casualty rates among junior officers tend to be among the highest (certainly in the kind of fighting taking place in Syria), but even factoring "attrition" such a large increase in the number of junior officers suggests to me that either the regular SAA (which now has maybe 80,000 troops in total, although this number is endlessly murky) will expand the number of its mobile combined-armed units (rather than soldiers sequestered in barracks or manning checkpoints) and/or that better-trained "cadres" will be supplied to the various militia forces around the country, possibly folding the better units into the regular army.

(Of course US comparison possibly misleading if SAA is like Russian and many Latin American armies in that officers perform many functions that in US are the responsibility of senior enlisted personnel, making the ratio of soldiers to officers generally lower, but, again, sheer size of these graduating classes still strikes me as indicating some kind of major rebuilding of the force.)

This is obviously a *very* rough guess by someone with only the most casual knowledge of the subject, but recent institutional information on the SAA is rare enough that I thought it might be useful to post the above. (And I'd of course be delighted if anyone is willing to improve on my, again, very rough interpretation of what it might mean.)


Concerning your last paragraph, is that the point of arming the rebels?

What's your personal perspective on matters?



You appear to be like one of my many adversaries over the decades who insisted that intelligence analysis consists of drawing up something like a business balance sheet and then excluding any possibilities that don't fit the numbers. China has goals that are not about resource exploitation. Russia has goals that are not restricted by the budgetary weakness caused by sanctions. Syria possesses hydrocarbon assets that are not on a scale like those of Saudi Arabia but are considerable. They have been fighting over these oil and gas fields for several years now. I suppose that I have an advantage in having known several men who became very rich handling the downstream distribution of those hydrocarbons. pl


Speaking of stress, did you see this story Colonel?:

VMI, Famed Military Academy, Giving Cadets Coloring Books for Stress



VMI is not a private school. It is a state college. When I was a cadet the idea was to increase stress on freshmen (rats) not to reduce it so this is new to me. pl


India has signed several deals but were on hold due to the security situation.

India has been largely supportive of Syria through BRICS and I think there is cooperation in counter terrorism.

I read somewhere that the total cost of the war is 200 billion.


Colonel FYI, apparently at the end of the President obama can't let go of his favorite terrorists in Aleppo.

"Just as the US and Russia were preparing to discuss a solution for Aleppo, which was to involve free passage for all rebels from the part of the city still under their control, Washington abruptly withdrew its own proposal, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said."


Heaving on a huge, scorched metal door and covered in engine oil, Sgt Hussein Mahmoud was deep into a morning’s work. Twisted hulks of wrecked army vehicles sat incongruously in the coarse dust that was kicked up by still-moving trucks as they crept around Mosul’s urban fringe.

Serge, that's one of the possible headers in a news article I am familiar with. The standard is the inverted pyramid. I am too lazy to look into either German or English theories and for that matter how they changed over the decades, centuries ...

But I sure wish I would love to have a phone line to chat with Karl Kraus, better then the Ouija board Ledeen used to contact Angleton. Ideally he also followed developments since he died:





Somebody showing some grounded scepticism about a fast recovery of Syria deserves to be categorized as an adversary?

Well then. The reconstructions costs were estimated at 80bn in 2013, 140bn in 2014, and now reach 350bn. And the war is not over. That begins to be serious money for Russia and even for China to spend on one country to achieve those unspecified paramount goals.

Regarding hydrocarbon assets: I duly mentioned them. However

1) the Syrian infrastructure has been seriously damaged -- bombed to prevent Daesh from exploiting those oil fields it controls;
2) worldwide, oil firms have been slashing investments;
3) the world has been mired in a hydrocarbon glut with deeply depressed prices for some time now.

Finally, in a historical context, quite a number of countries have been devastated by war in the past 20 years -- from the Balkans to Africa, from the Near East to Central Asia. Effective reconstruction has been surprisingly limited, the only obvious major exception being Lebanon (Hariri had the backing of Saudi Arabia).

Oh, I forgot: quite a number of countries, including Gulf states, the EU and the USA imposed sanctions on Syria. Makes things technically arduous.

Back to the original remark: I seriously doubt that Syria will have a chance to come stronger out of this ordeal.

Peter Reichard

The Syrian state is shattered and over the short term needs to focus inward and rebuild but born of the immanent victory will come such intangibles as military tradition, esprit de corps, professionalism and pride in having served which will attract the best of the young to the new Syrian Army where they will be led by platoon sergeants who were today's privates, by battalion commanders and division staff officers who were today's junior officers and so on up the line. The Syrian Army five to ten years down the road may well be a formidable force to reckon with especially if reequipped with top of the line Russian hardware.

Bill H

This update was added to the article at 9:30am:

“VMI once took America’s youth and prepared them for duty and the harsh realities of war,” a VMI alumnus and veteran told the Washington Free Beacon. “Now, for $20k a year, VMI will turn your teenagers back into children.”



During my time with a Marine infantry company in 1969, all of the platoon commanders carried rifles (as did I as FO) and used them, but as I recall the company commander just carried a 45.

As the platoons in the bush were pretty small (as I recall about 18-20 Marines. much smaller that a platoon "on paper"), I think the platoon commanders pretty regularly used their rifles. I think Col. Lang has previously published Jim Webb's Navy Cross citation which makes it clear that leading his platoon involved deep involvement in the fight.


Syria is part of the Chinese silk road plan long term. All roads lead to Damascus.

Russia may not have to rebuild Syria pro-bono...oil money and so on


Assad was doing reconciliation before the Russians arrived. The additional firepower meant the more diffident rebels became motivated to make up.

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