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08 March 2017


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Still have both in operating condition? Good! Me too. Airborne!. pl



3/75 according to sofrep:

Also, last year there was an Army HIMARS unit in Turkey and one in Jordan. Both struck Daesh targets in Syria. But Raqqa targets would be a skosh too far for them unless they move closer in. Don't know if they are still there, they may have been moved into Iraq for the Mosul op. With a vertical fall capability they have a pinpoint accuracy for targets in urban defilade between buildings. Much better than the M777s or air dropped PGMs.

Peter AU

Re HIMARS in Syria. According to this WP report they have been there some time

"Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. general overseeing the campaign against the Islamic State, has previously said that a small number of conventional soldiers have supported Special Operations troops on the ground in Syria, including through a truck-mounted system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS. The defense official with knowledge of the deployment said Wednesday that the Marines and their Howitzers will supplement, rather than replace, those Army units."


Do I have this right? The Marines are there, or, American military personal, are there under this Authorization?


A document drafted in response to the 9/11 attacks, over 15 years ago? That is some Authorization, I'd say.


Maybe not 2REP but 1 RPIMA or/and 13 RDP, both under COS (SOC) command.


Thanks, TTG.

Aware I am way too far ahead with my concentration on the last paragraph.


Ahrar Al-Sham and Tahrir Al-Sham reached a ceasefire deal which is aimed to end the infighting between rival terrorist factions in Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The sides have to remove the recently created checkpoints and to release fighters captured in clashes. The groups are also creating a joint body to coordinate military actions against government forces.




It is clear that Russian desire for cooperation with the US and trump's desire to drive IS into the ground is causing major changes in the orientation and scope of US/Russian coordination. IMO that is a good thing. Amusingly the usual "Sands of Iwo Jima"/Halls of Montezuma bullshit is re-asserting itself in the media. the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment is all over the Manbij area but all people like Varney on Fox Business are only interested in one six gun battery of USMC 155mm howitzers which have been brought into the Raqqa fight. Varney had congressman Duncan Hunter, a former USMC artillery officer, on his show today. Hunter asserted that USMC artillery is better than Army artillery and Varney sucked that up. Fact: The USMC has no artillery school. ALL USMC artillerists are trained at the Army artillery school at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Fact: The M777 howitzers the USMC artillery has in Syria are Army developed and are Army standard weapons. pl


I know that you've been arguing for the politically oriented IdLib solution. The past two months, and likely the next few, R+6 are concentrating on lines of communication.

Compare this eastern Alleppo push with the location of canals, water supply, and water treatment. January had fighting to secure the water supply of Damascus. I expect soon a fight to clear threats to the two major Aleppo airports.

Much of the clearance of villages and pockets seems to be prioritized by whether they can block or harass roads or airports. The Palmyra push should restore natural gas supply somewhat.

All of this reflects an operational shift to removing threats to military and commercial loc. I think this is based on the opinion that as ISIS and the jihadis feel more threatened, they will shift to targetting supply lines and civilians because they can't win and hold territory. Step one in this is to move the hostiles beyond artillery range of the loc.


Colonel -

M777 design was originally by Vickers, a British firm. Big Army was against it at the time as they were still in love with self-propelled guns and wanted a replacement for the M198. It was a few Army officers from the Airborne community and the 10th Mountain Division plus the Marines that pushed for the M777.


PS - Development and production of the M777 was done by a Joint Army/Marine Program Office. Operational testing was done at MCAGCC 29 Palms, not at Ft Sill. That joint program continues today for upgrades.

English Outsider

Colonel - might I put a query to you and to your committee? I came across these two links on a pro-Syrian site, though the articles linked to are not pro-Syrian. I should add that I don't at all trust Spiegel since on other subjects I have found it to be tendentious or sometimes misleading.


There was some reference made after the relief of East Aleppo to Russian forces policing the city in order to stop looting. Nevertheless it's a long way from that to asserting that areas held by the Syrian government are in truth under the control of rogue militias. Could I ask, is there any basis to the statements made in the articles linked to, or are these articles merely hit pieces?

In the past such pieces have been constructed from information supplied by official Western sources, some said to be based in Syria, some closer to home, and have closely reflected the line official sources wish to get across to the public. Spiegel in particular has mirrored pretty faithfully the official line. These articles are recent. They do therefore indicate that the official line has not changed since Trump's inauguration. It is still supportive of the forces opposing Assad.

Does this indicate that there are now two contrary Western approaches to the war in Syria, (1) that the main objective is to defeat the Jihadis, no matter how and no matter who co-operates with whom, or (2) that the main objective is still to support the opposition to Assad?

no matter who has to co-operate wit , some said to be based in Syria but and some

The Twisted Genius

English Outsider,

The article at your first link is an opinion piece strongly pushing the notion that Assad must go along with all Iranian influence in Syria. The reasoning offered is that the Assad government is in a tough position and needs foreign assistance in its fight against the jihadis. I consider it an idiotic notion that removing Assad and his allies would do nothing less than hand over the whole region to the jihadis and their Gulfie backers. Whether this notion is still held by the Trump administration is not known. They clearly want IS destroyed, but I don't know if they can get over their intense animosity towards Iran. Their continued sucking up to the Saudis is troubling.

The second article also points out that things are tough in Syria. I think it's a realistic view of what happens in a war zone. Militias and criminal elements flourish when government forces are busy fighting the bigger threat. Addressing internal security is something that can't be ignored while the major fight against the jihadis continues. It's why Russian military police are in Aleppo. It's why Special Forces are assisting local police in Manbij. This is why I think the demobilization phase is the most important phase of a US sponsored resistance movement. Unless you succeed here, all is for naught.



If they starting winning then the neverTrump crowd might just do something about the AMUF.


PPS - However, I do agree with you that Congressman Hunter and Fox News are dumber than rocks.



In the end the Army sponsored the M777. pl



War is about the total environment in which control of territory and population is a key factor. I continue to the think that the eastern thrust is the "politically" motivated one and is largely motivated by Russian desire to cooperate with the US. Once again, if Idlib Province is not cleared of jihadi rebels this cancer may kill the Syrian state. pl



Have you ever been to an Army service school? pl


The new deployment of a few hundred US marines and their artillery to help capture Raqqa in the next few weeks seems to part of a plan that began last fall. Could that be a poison pill Obama left behind as a present for Trump? The assault will be coming from the north of Raqqa.

Also it looks like the SAA is moving towards Raqqa from the south according to the latest Southfront report. How many weeks will that take?

This situation looks extremely dangerous. Is this a race for the city? What happens if the two forces arrive at the same time? Has the US and Russia come to some kind of agreement on how to coordinate these two approaching forces and have they agreed on some division of territory? What could possibly go wrong?

English Outsider

Many thanks for your reply. Your reply puts the Spiegel article in perspective, a perspective I find lacking in the article itself. On the wider picture, when you say "Whether this notion is still held by the Trump administration is not known", at least you're not having to write " - this notion is still held by the Clinton administration." Early days yet, I suppose, for finding out how much things will change, particularly since the transition this time around seems more fraught than usual. I shall stay hopeful and to those of my friends who use "Drain the swamp" as their standard greeting I shall propose "The Decline and Fall of the Neo-cons" as a standard toast.


Colonel -

While serving I went to service schools on Army, Navy and Air Force bases. Many Marine MOSs are trained in schools of other services. Why reinvent the wheel, or double-tap the taxpayer?

In the Army schools that I attended in addition to Army instructors they also had Marine instructors in teaching positions. A good friend of mine now long retired had such a job teaching both Soldiers and Marines. They were a minority for sure, but still there.

The Beaver

Poor Nikki

'we need to get Iran' out of Syria
And the pro-Bibi Israelis are running with that in their rags

The Beaver

@ Toivos

SDF are already within 20km of Raqqa City’s eastern gates after liberating the town Al-Kayjla with the help of the coalition airstrikes this morning

Plus the road between Raqqa and Deir-Ezzor was cut by SDF on Monday



Does USMC have an armor school or do they all go to the Army armor school at Ft. Knox? What was your MOS? I forget, if I knew. There were USMC students in most service schools I attended, many fewer USAF and US Navy. OK. The M777 is a joint Army and USMC project. The gun is a fine weapon but as instrument of land mass warfare it would be much more vulnerable to counterbattery fire than a fully armored SP piece. What enemy would that be? I am not in favor of "betting the ranch" on anyone's crystal ball. pl


The road between Raqqa and Deir-Ezzor runs east of Raqqa. The SAA forces are moving along the road along the south shore of Lake Assad that runs west of Raqqa. This does not change what I said above.

English Outsider

So that's how it's done. Yes, that's the Spiegel we know and love. I've read claims that it used to march in lockstep with the Economist and the NYT, but my eyes usually glaze over half way through a Spiegel article so I've seldom stayed the course long enough to check the claim out. Certainly the latest offerings from the Triumvirate that I could find, though maybe demonstrating a common tone, don't seem to me to share a common theme. Wikileaks will no doubt clear all that up when it gets round to it.

On imposing free and fair elections on Syria I must respectfully disagree. 1) It's an unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign state and there's been a tragic amount of that already and 2) I've never seen a free and fair election. Setting on one side the increasingly common allegations of straight voting fraud in many Western elections, there are perfectly legal ways of restricting voter choice that render elections anything but free and fair. As the Chinese sometimes point out when they're responding to criticisms of their own political system, yes, the Western voter gets to choose what he wants from the menu but he doesn't often get to choose the menu.

The very best we can hope for is that the killing will stop, that, as you say, order will be restored (the Russians seem to be quietly insistent on that), and that the Syrians will be left alone to rebuild their shattered country. Presumably elections will be part of that but we shouldn't charge in yet again and dictate to them how they should do it. So I would, as I say, respectfully disagree with you on that point.

Thank you for your reply, which makes it clear that there is indeed a problem. From what you say, and from what TTG says above, it does seem that even in the recovered areas there'd be a long way to go before the Syrians could hope to get back to normal.

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