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01 May 2017

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Larry Kart

I wasn't talking about Market Garden per se but about Monty's post-Market Garden urgent proposal that Brit forces be "unleashed" to launch a supposedly war-ending thrust through Northern Germany, while Bradley's and Patton's forces would be more or less left to cool their heels.

The failure to secure the Schledt Peninsula and events like that Market Garden tea-brewing incident you mentioned do suggest that by that time in the war British forces were not in sufficiently aggressive shape to successfully mount any operation into Northern Germany such as the one Monty proposed. Yes, Market Garden might have worked if that SS Panzer Corps had not been around Arnhem; and if Market Garden had worked, then much might have gone differently. But again, unless my chronology is mistaken, Monty's urgent proposal as to how the thrust into Germany should proceed was a post-Market Garden affair.

Larry Kart

Wikipedia, FWIW, on the Battle of the Scheldt.

'The battle of the Scheldt has later been described by historians as unnecessarily difficult as it could have been cleared earlier and more easily had the Allies given it a higher priority than Operation Market Garden. American historian Charles B. MacDonald later called the failure to immediately take the Scheldt "One of the greatest tactical mistakes of the war."[14] Because of the flawed strategic choices made by the Allies in early September the battle became one of the longest and bloodiest that the Canadian army faced over the course of the Second World War.

'The (French) Channel ports were "resolutely defended" as "fortresses" and Antwerp was the only solution, but Montgomery had ignored warnings from Admirals Cunningham and Ramsay that with the estuary still in German hands this vital port was "useless". The Germans reinforced their island garrisons, and the Canadians "sustained 12,873 casualties in an operation which could have been achieved at little cost if tackled immediately after the capture of Antwerp. .... This delay was a grave blow to the Allied build-up before winter approached."

'Admiral Cunningham warned that Antwerp would be "as much use as Timbuctoo" unless the approaches were cleared, and Admiral Ramsay warned SHAEF and Montgomery that the Germans could block the Scheldt Estuary with ease. [Anthony] Beevor says that Montgomery not Horrocks was to blame for not clearing the approaches as he "was not interested in the estuary and thought that the Canadians could clear it later" . Allied commanders were looking ahead to "leaping the Rhine ... in virtually one bound.". But despite Eisenhower wanting the capture of one major port with its dock facilities intact, Montgomery insisted that the First Canadian Army should clear the German garrisons in Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk first, although they had all suffered demolitions and would not be navigable for some time. So the Canadians when they eventually stopped their assaults on the northern French ports and started on the Scheldt approaches on 2 October found that German resistance was far stronger than they imagined, as the remnants of the Fifteenth Army had time to escape and reinforce the island of Walcheren and the South Beveland Peninsula.

Tunde

And their pilgrimage tourism money for vials of River Jordan water, rosary beads and other trinkets.
Not an endorsement of his statement but Obama had said Russia risked a quagmire in Syria initially when Russia began its aerial campaign in support of Assad. Does this suggest that the anti R+6 forces had a strategy of outspending/out resourcing Syria and her allies to exhaustion after observing that Russia would be unwilling to commit significant ground troops ?

Babak Makkinejad

No one is going to transfer any technology to Turks; their sole nuclear power plant is being built by Russia, operated by Russia, will be decommissioned by Russia, and Turks are not allowed on its grounds.

Turks could follow the North Korean way, build a small - 2 MW - or even a zero-output graphite moderated natural uranium reactor and then build a larger one and so on; but they do not have it in themselves to do so.

To you larger point of alluding to non-proliferation; in my opinion, US mortally wounded NPT and the other members of P5 pushed into its grave.

Brunswick

Col.,

Actually, I don't see the Syrian Civil War as a "Civil War" or a COIN fight at all.

As we saw most famously in the liberation of Aleppo, but many other places as well:

- there were very few "fish" in the sea, tiny fractions of those claimed by the MSM and the West,

- there are very few "true jihadi's" and many of them are foreign fighters, not Syrians. They do have a very "outsized" impact on local fighting but:

- given a choice, many of the "indiginous" fighters, take the Reconciliation offer, in exchange for various forms of local powersharing or amnesty.

IMHO, the "Syrian Civil War" is an example of how a small number of highly motivated foreign fighters, with a large amount of foreign funding and weapons, a small number of local fighters, using many different tactics, can leverage civil unrest and dissatisfaction with the Government, into a long protracted war.

Given Syria's prewar population of 22.7 million, and it's youth bubble, far more Syrian's have responded to the crisis by becoming internal or external refugees, than taking up arms.

Even when the FSA was the main "front" organization, it's org. list showed that it was an amalgamation of hundreds of different "fighting groups", some with as many as 1500 "claimed" fighters, some, less than a dozen.

Babak Makkinejad

Good map, every Sunni Muslim terrorist attacker could be traced to outside of those boundaries.

Erdogan wants to crush the Kurds - if he can - and roll-back the power of Iran - and now Russia - in the Middle East. Since he cannot do it by the powers of Turkey alone, he wants US to help him achieve that.

I guess the idea is that after Iranians are evicted from Syria then Syria can be reconstituted along some vision of Ikhwan; hardly possible in my opinion.

And he wants to do all of that without explicit war with the Party of Ali; without the Shia Doctors declaring Jihad. He is gambling that a Shia Jihad against Takfiris - or those that oppose the government of Syria and Iraq - is not in the cards.

I would not be so sure if I were him.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

You are correct about the battlefield in Syria. I am concerned about the Homefront. The Atlantic Alliance is breaking apart under the stress of the constant wars, the influx of refugees and austerity. There is a mini World War ongoing in Syria and Iraq. At its root, this is a millennial Abrahamic Holy War. There will always be enough volunteers for a trip to paradise in a population of over a billion Sunnis. The Globalist wars for profit must end or Europe will be engulfed. The alternative to globalism is to restore government for the people, build conscript armies and secure the borders. Stop overthrowing governments and end the empowerment of criminal multi-national corporations. The only way to halt the march of chaos across the West is to restore the Middle Class by providing good jobs, education and health care for every citizen.

Clueless Joe

About manpower, and where rebels might get their troops, there's a slightly interesting bit of "information" here:
http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=65659
It's the anti-Assad and rebel-friendly SOHR reporting on April 2017 deaths. As usual, this is not a complete list, and considering the guy's a bit biased towards the rebels and against SAA, the numbers are even more staggering.

215 SAA deaths
308 Syrian loyalist militias deaths
28 foreign troops pro-Assad deaths

449 FSA and SDF deaths (why add both??)
833 Islamist fighters deaths (not sure if they're all non-Syrians or if he assumed all Nusra and ISIS guys weren't Syrians when a part of them were)

Whatever the real numbers, it seems the casualties don't favour the rebels right now. The perk of doing mostly defensive battles and having RUAF (and USAF, for SDF) to help. Also of major interest, few non-Syrian loaylist deaths, but up to 2/3 of islamist troops right now are foreign jihadis. You can see plainly where rebels can hope to replenish their ranks - foreigners coming through Turkey, basically, with a seemingly very low popular/local active support.
If new jihadis aren't recruited in Syria but have to be imported, when SAA can still recruit some local people, I would assume that the situation isn't (yet?) as bad as one can fear, but that's a wholly uninformed lay guess. I agree that the issues raised by the Colonel are very worrying, I just wonder for how long various rebel groups can keep up launching attacks, if they're bleeding badly.

505thPIR

If your mobility is better aka abilit and I mean also your ability to reach out and touch some one, a seemingly scattered and un-connected defense may be some serious massing...no

Jony Kanuck

Colonel,
Arnhem: W/O doing reference, the month was from the permission being granted to do the operation: All the gas for the western front went to that operation. So it was more like 2-3 weeks & that's where it fell apart: The wrong radios meant the Para's could not call in rocket Typhoons & so had to go up against the panzers with PIAT's. Not listening to the Dutch liaison officers meant attacking up a single road strung with villages. In 1944 the Brits had no APCs & their tanks did not have spaced armor. Thus the Brit tanks would outdistance their truck bound infantry at the first village & then have to sit in front of the next village waiting for the (poor bloody) infantry to catch up. The other side of the Rhine however was more or less forest roads to Arnhem. It was a good idea that fell apart in detail.

Monty
My favourite story has Monty blowing up at Eisenhower in Ike's trailer. Ike leaned over & patted Monty on the knee & said "Monty"! "You can't talk to me like that". "I'm your boss". Monty apparently gulped air & shut up.

Syria
If one is looking for historical comparisons, a good one would be the Spanish Civil War: Militias, murky coalition warfare & sponsorship. The Republican govt made some pretty questionable military decisions based on politics. The large Republican army wasn't very good (weapons & training lacking) The Republic's best units were the Internationals & the communist divisions, political warriors. When the Nationalists overran the Republic, Republican officers & school teachers were executed on capture.

mauisurfer

disagree totally
the only ones benefiting from chaos in syria are israel
and saudi + gulf sunnis + usa mil/ind/sec complex

William R. Cumming

Thanks P.L.!

jonst

Neither was Germany in WWII, they had Italy and Rumania, etc.

turcopolier

mauisurfer

"usa mil/ind/sec complex" Tell me how the war in Syria benefits the "USA mil/ind/sec complex?" Is it the usual merchants of death baloney about how they get to sell ammunition and equipment to replace worn out or lost materiel? Is it desire for the oil and gas of Syria? What is it? pl

turcopolier

Jony kanuck

Interesting detail, two or three weeks still seems adequate to me. Have you ever planned anything like this? I am curious to know who you are. A history professor? A present or former Canadian military person? I caution against "gotcha" comments. We do not spend our time here playing troll games. Eisenhower cautioned Monty in the scene you mention but he had no ability to fire him so the gesture was meaningless. pl

turcopolier

Clueless Joe

If I understand you correctly, the jihadis are running out of recruitable manpowervand are increasingly composed of foreign fighters? pl

turcopolier

Brunswick

So, for you, it is a phony war, a war of few numbers and fighters? The intensity of combat in Aleppo City, the present Hama offensive and in East Ghouta would seem to deny that version of reality. pl

Vic

The concept of mass in Syrian Military operations maybe more complex than just counting manpower or units.

The concept also encompases the massing of fire power. The Syrian government has it, the rebels lack it. Anytime the rebels mass; air power (and artillery) usually slaughters them in huge numbers. This keeps them largely spread out (dispersed for survival) and on the defensive. This often allows the Syrian military to mass locally/tactically to defeat them (except in built up areas that offer the defender a huge advantage in the defense).

Nowadays one usually looks at realitive combat power, not units to calculate mass ratios. Qualitative factors nowadays tend to count more than just the size of the units involved. Most of these qualitative facts greatly favor the Syrian military over the rebels. Just to list some:

* Speed/Maneuver. The Syrian Army is very mechanized and can use the roads with out getting the crap bombed out of them. This allows them in a given time period to affect several areas of the battlefield where the rebel units are largely stuck in place.

* Better training. The Syrian military is similar (but not the same as) the professional military forces of the west. Men and units in such units operate as a synchronized/coordinated body, which greatly increases their combat power. Most videos of rebel forces in action seem to show armed civilians (street gangs) in disorganized violence. They kill unarmed civilians very well, but have difficulty when they run up against regular military units.

* Unity of Command. The Syrian military has unity of command compared to the huge number of rebel groups mostly doing their own thing.

* Better C2I. The Syrian military has more and better recon systems, and more and better communication systems. They see and react to the battlefield situation better than the rebels (who are increasingly just “dug in” waiting for their turn to be attacked. Their Russian planners and advisers to the Syrian army are light years better than the old Sunni Iraqi Army officers, Saudi military and Qatari offices the Rebels possibly have in their “war rooms” advising them.

Just my opinion, but if you factor in qualitative factors and use “combat power” instead of man power the Syrian military has a significant over all mass advantage over the rebels.

Vic

Matthew

London Bob: I am currently reading a biography of Ataturk. He also dreamed of "returning" Aleppo and Mosel to the Turks.

Maybe the current Sultan will settle for Rojava.

turcopolier

Vic

I agree with all of that and based on the superior mobility and available ground and air fire power available to R+6 it is my opinion that that this mass should be brought to bear in clearing Idlib Province. The rest of the current fighting sectors should be placed in economy of force status until that is accomplished. Otherwise the long time result in the war is likely to be a cease fire in place anda de facto partition of the the country. In that event the non-IS jihadis will use whatever areas they possess as redoubts from which to conduct guerrilla war against the government with Saudi and Turkish support. pl

Larry Kart

Correction on my part:

Contrary to what I've previously stated, I believe that Monty's "single thrust into Northern Germany to be mounted by British forces" plan was in good part a pre-Market Garden affair; and Market Garden, had it been a success, was supposed to flow right into that narrow-front assault into Northern Germany -- though even if Market Garden had been a success, I don't think that Ike would have given Monty the free-rein he wanted, for previously mentioned military and political reasons.

Peter in Toronto

"Russia has benefitted enormously from the chaos and discord it has created. The immigrant crisis has contributed to Brexit, and greater popularity of nationalist and Russia friendly parties throughout Europe."

That sounds very much like the narrative that's being peddled by the Borgist cabal and their various dissemination channels, and frankly, I'm not buying it. It's a clear attempt at fomenting a negative perception of the Putin government and further isolating Russia from the global US-led order. Putin has been far too sovereign for their liking; they were quite content plundering the few morsels of assets from the decaying carcass of Yeltsin's Russia.

>There is a finite number of suicidal jihadists and thier slaughter in Syria hinders recruitment.

In the Wahhabite ideology, every womb becomes militarized for the purposes of Jihad. Don't underestimate their demographics.

Tunde

My compliments to you Colonel and the discussants here on SST. A fascinating subject of which I have no knowledge but of which I have been encouraged to dig further into.
Thank you.

Philippe

cleaned (& working) link :
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2bS3DAAAQBAJ&pg=PT97&lpg=PT97

LeaNder

I believe that the Iranians do believe that they have skin in the game.

...since Russian intervention I continue to believe that manpower is not an issue. The youth bulge is a thing,

you have the Iranian youth bulge as part of the larger regional youth bulge in mind? They could be trained and sent in?

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