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01 May 2017


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JFC Fuller approved so that is enough for me.


Made a great film too.


I believe that Putin, at least, wants to drag out the Syrian conflict. 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. Turkey, once a staunch US ally, is a bit of a question mark. Putin has greatly improved ties with Egypt as has Iran and US intent and direction from Saudi and Israel are clear to all and not appreciated. Putin has allowed neocon policies to take thier course which has been a disaster for the US. It is also preferable for the Russians to kill jihadists in Syria than in Russia. There is a finite number of suicidal jihadists and thier slaughter in Syria hinders recruitment.

But the fun can not last forever. Putin and the Iranians need to end this.

Jony Kanuck

The problem in latter ww2 was not Montgomery, it was Churchill. There were competent Brit. generals but Churchill would sack them if they didn't provide victories when he needed them in the House of Commons. As well as being a relentless self promoter, Montgomery stood up to Churchill.

On Arnhem; The whole operation was put together in one month. As well as not getting the right radios & not dropping onto a panzer division, the Brits didn't listen to the Dutch liason officers. The Dutch wargamed almost the same operation before the war. They found the only way to quickly get to Arnhem was to cross the Rhine.


But another piece is that this is a proxy war and every buddy has their own interests.

BNW, all three listed players no doubt have their own interests, but can one really say they fight by proxy?

Does Hizbollah fight by proxy? You forgot to list them. Since they have no interest of their own? Since they are not fighting by proxy?

Besides Iranians in your list alludes to Iranian + Iraqi forces? Is that why you feel they only care about the East?

Red Cloud

This seems like doom and gloom and I'm not buying it. ISIS and AQ/affiliates have used this same strategy of forcing the SAA to be everywhere at once for years now. Even before all of the successes of the past year by the R+6 they were still forced to be everywhere at once.

That hasn't changed yet the R+6 is still on the offensive. If anything, the Idlib head-choppers and ISIS are the ones who seem like a spent force. HTS threw everything they had at the R+6 in a desperate attempt to reach Hama city that failed. This was while the R+6 were making advances in other parts of the country.

There are clearly some very important reasons why the R+6 sees a need to hold places like Deir Ezzor and Suweida that they aren't advertising to the world. Perhaps the R+6 overcommitting in Idlib and leaving Daraa open is exactly what HTS is waiting for...


CGTN had a report this morning that Iran is seriously considering sending more forces to Syria in the form of advisors and volunteers.

An interesting political development is de Mistura attending talks in Astana which brings the question is this for show or go?

"UN Special Envoy de Mistura will be joining the high-level meeting on Syria in Astana on 3 and 4 May," the note to correspondents says. "In view of the urgency and importance of re-establishing a de-escalation of the situation in Syria and moving on confidence-building measures, he has agreed to attend the meeting as an observer at the invitation of the Kazakh government."

While in Astana, de Mistura is planning to conduct political consultations with the ceasefire guarantors (Russia, Turkey and Iran).

"This will be particularly timely as he is at present putting finishing touches on his deliberations regarding the next round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva," it said."




before pushing the send button of this comment, please be assured my highest esteem for your work here, however, regarding this article, I'm scratching my head and guess you're joking.

From what I understand about the war in Syria the Syrian army and their partners are just on the right path to win. Their enemies already kill each other:


And the Russian proposal which I find likely to at least partly be adopted in Astana talks promises more of that, begin quote:

The paper emphasizes the necessary to create conditions to drive out Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations (both outlawed in numerous countries) from de-escalation zones with the help of the Syrian opposition.

End quote. Source: https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201705011053166200-syria-tensions-reduction-zones/

Now regarding Clausewitz I must say that I'm not familiar with his writings. However, I heard his main opus is Vom Kriege, written in 1832. On the "Economy of Forces" I read there in the book "Strategy in General" the following, quote begin:

"As one of these simplified characteristic points as a mental appliance, we look upon the principle of watching continually over the co-operation of all forces, or in other words, of keeping constantly in view that no part of them should ever be idle. Whoever has forces where the enemy does not give them sufficient employment, whoever has part of his forces on the march—that is, allows them to lie dead—while the enemy's are fighting, he is a bad manager of his forces. In this sense there is a waste of forces, which is even worse than the employment to no purpose. If there must be action, then the first point is that all parts act, because the most purposeless activity still keeps employed and destroys a portion of the enemy's force, whilst troops completely inactive are for the moment quite neutralised. ..."

Quote end, source: https://www.clausewitz.com/readings/OnWar1873/BK3ch14.html#a

For discussing the R+6 force positioning over Syria it seems to me to be more apt then your quote from the chapter "Tactics Or The Theory Of Combat" from an article by Clausewitz' from 1812. What you quoted are early Clausewitz thoughts about, what I would understand as battle tactics, just above this proposed order for positioning forces for a battle:




I do not agree with any of that, but sadly, I do not think you are joking. Perhaps you should actually read Vom Kriege. i do not think the IS and AQ groups can be negotiated out of existence and as someone here observed their population base among rural Sunni Arabs will remain. Unless they can be forced back into guerrilla warfare they are going to win in the long run. pl


Elijah Magniar said the US is going ahead with a "safe haven" plan, aka partition. If this is the case, then one would have to surmise that there has been US/Russia diplomacy to support this.




"The whole operation was put together in one month." A month seems plenty of time to me. There were massive staffs involved at several echelons. you think a month was not a lot of time? I would agree about Montgomery. He was much over-rated and an arrogant little prig. pl



From the last paragraph of the transcript of SouthFront's April 27 video profile of the Desert Hawks, it looks as if the SAA is moving toward concentration of forces. They're integrating militias into a coordinated fighting force and hashing out joint commands. This has been taking time but from the revelation at SouthFront they're now getting their ducks in a row.

At the end of this comment I'll post the entire paragraph and link but for now I want to zip through a couple other points.

The second-to-last paragraph in Sam Heller's latest report on Idlib (April 24) delivers the blunt assessment that it's all over but the shouting in Idlib (and not only there). As reading between the lines reveals, this is because the Usual Suspects machinating in Syria have been forced by the logic of Assad's Reductio ad Absurdum military strategy to concede that it's not possible to transform a bunch of cutthroats into model participants in a liberal democracy. They wanted to try in Idlib? Assad's answer, it turned out, was, 'Here's a thousand more of them to experiment with. And another thousand, and another and another.'

So while the Usual Suspects don't actually care -- IMO the experiment in Idlib was just to increase budget requests to their governments -- they now know they can no longer justify the requests, a point Heller pounds home.

Also pounding on the point is Erdogan, who's recently kicked out of Turkey at least 5 Western "humanitarian" ngos working on the Idlib experiment. See Heller's report, which I link to below, for the details, and the one he links to at Hurriyet.

Heller ends his report by pleading to the Usual Suspects to save the civilians who will be caught in the middle of the looming Final Battle in Idlib between Assad's forces and the cutthroats.

During his second interview with Hong-Kong based Phoenix TV, which was this March, Assad thanked China's government for the reconstruction they were doing in Syria.

The Chinese interviewer chirped, 'What else do you need?' to which Assad replied, 'Everything.'

Everything is what Beijing wants to do in Syria in terms of reconstruction, although they don't mind sharing the bonanza with Singapore and a few other countries in Phoenix's giant viewing audience. They've been twiddling their thumbs waiting for the fighting to subside to a dull roar so they can send a few million Chinese into the country to rebuild it.

I sense they're tired of twiddling so Xi could have told Trump over chocolate cake, 'So you want our help in dealing with the North Koreans? How about giving us help in Syria?'

From Reuters, today, report filed at 4:49 pm ET

Trump, Putin discuss Syria ceasefire in first talks since U.S. air strikes


The White House said the two leaders agreed that "all parties must do all they can to end the violence" in Syria.

"The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons," a White House statement said.

It said Washington would send a representative to Syrian ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The State Department said acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones will attend the Astana talks as an observer.

The Kremlin said Putin and Trump agreed to step up dialogue on finding ways to strengthen a ceasefire and give it stability.

"The aim is to create the conditions for the launch for a real resolution process in Syria. This means that the Russian foreign minister and U.S. secretary of state will effectively inform the leaders about progress in this direction."

Links, quotes:

SouthFront April 27 report, last paragraph:


"In late 2016 and early 2017, the Desert Hawks brigade disappeared from the media coverage of the war and were not involved in major operations like the second advance on Palmyra or the battle in northern Hama. Pre-conditions that have led to this situation are not clear. However, this took place on the background of formation of the Syrian Arab Army’s 5th Assault Corps, the move described by experts as a first step in a larger government effort to merge at least a part of semi-independent pro-government groups and to set up a joint command over them. It is not known however to what extent, if at all, the Desert Hawks are affected by this."

Sam Heller's April 24 report, last 2 paragraphs:

"The proxy war against the Syrian regime in the northwest, for the West, is lost. The United States should be working to scale back its involvement in Syria’s war and, where possible, de-escalate the conflict and freeze current lines of control. That is not possible in the northwest. The fight between this jihadist-dominated fragment of the Syrian insurgency and the Assad regime will rage on. And in that fight, the United States and its allies have no clear rooting interest, no side to boost.

America and its allies should be on the side of the civilians caught in the middle. They need help."


Description of The Idlib Experiment, for readers who don't know about it -- Heller's November 29, 2016, "Keeping the Lights on in Rebel Idlib"


March 2017 Assad interview with Phoenix TV:


Phoenix TV



Interesting, what ya think? A true descendant of the Seljuk empire?

I link a map you once added so others can visualize matters:

But more specifically. What's your take on: Let's first take Manbij?


me.gcc power is based on an immovable resource,oil.that is a fatal flaw.


Babak, Re: Erdogan's speech that you posted: so now he wants Turkey to
invest more in nuclear energy. Do you believe that'll just be for peaceful means? Now he wants to chat with Trump about trade & more U.S. investment.
What's next?


The front is long, but can they afford not to fight in all those places ?
Most of these battles seem to be defensive, reactive, struggling to keep a foothold in a certain area.
Should Deir Ezzor be abandoned, or Daraa or Hama ? Can they afford not to block the Turkish incursion by taking the Deir Hafer plain ?
Palmyra salient seems to be about controlling access to gas/oil fields, as well as maintaining a staging area for launching the liberation (or evacuation) of Deir Ezzor pocket.
Maybe after the Mosul and Raqqa battles the ratio of forces will be more in favor (PMUs ?) of the SAA, but I would not count on Russia and/or Iran to add any substantial ground forces to the mix.


Yup, the SAA is not in the position to "choose" where they fight,

And the composition of the Pro-Government forces, also requires the many battles, many fronts.

People forget that at the neighborhood/village level, this is still a multisided "gang fight".


Thank you. I'll take time tomorrow when I know I have some free time.



I absolutely disagree with that. This is NOT a gang fight at a village level. It would be that if the rebels had not formed conventional forces to hold ground, population and natural resources and to govern the areas they control. i will say it again. If the SAA do not dominate the agenda and seek to destroy the rebel forces and they allow this to be a "gang fight at the village level" then they will eventually be defeated and Syria will be no more. Instead there will be one or more jihadi emirates where Syria once was. IMO you are trapped in the COIN fallacy. pl



If the Syrian government does not set priorities and concentrate on defeating enemy forces in the main objective areas they will eventually end as one of many pockets in a much divided place where Syria once was. Don't kid yourself jihadis cannot be negotiated into an equitable peace. Why would they? Their goal is salvation, not peace. No matter what they say they will just bide their time. pl


On War looks ok, to this Kraut, in the German original. Systematic. Starts pretty Kantian in fact.


This looked a bit more difficult to figure out, but it isn't. The title is not changed. Only a short introductory Passage addressing the Prussian king is missing.

"heavy, early 19th Century, academic kraut."

No problem with the German of earlier centuries as long as it is not a tortuously bureaucrateeze.


I want to help Syria. The question was about helping the legitimate govt of Syria, not the U.S. backed SDF. Of course western govts are taking a soft line on SDF volunteers. If the Borg can't get rid of Assad in Damascus, then they'll settle for balkanizing and partitioning Syria.



I envy you. I am confined to translations. He wrote from a base of twenty years of campaigning not from an academic background although he wished to be acceptable in that world. He was rather contemptuous of military academic training as in staff colleges, writing that it was a poor substitute for actual experience. I share that opinion. someone mentioned JFC Fuller. He and Liddell Hart were my main military intellectual mentors along with the meister kraut. pl


Meh a Hollywood version of history. The rapid advance of the Anglo-Canadian Armies meant that clearing Antwerp was easier said than done, exhaustion and intelligence failures etc. did have an inevitable effect. Besides clearing the fortified island of Walcheren of the German 15th Army would prove to be the tough task it looked. I might note that in due course they had no problem eventually crossing the Rhine as well as advancing to Rostock to forestall any Soviet attempt to enter Denmark.

Of course the rapid advance had meant a window of opportunity had opened up with the German Armies split and the path to the Ruhr as yet undefended. Eisenhower was right to back Operation Market Garden. It alone presented the chance to cross the Rhine and enter the Ruhr, open up the port at Rotterdam, end V1 and V2 bombing of Britain and was the only possible chance to end the war in 1944. The Anglo-Canadian armies had their own supply system and had the resources to mount the attack, the US armies did not.


I'm afraid Syria as it existed before this conflict is gone.
Most of what remains to be done is damage control. With luck and many more casualties, the government will survive and be able to keep together most of the urban and industrial areas, and enough of territory and resources to exist as a viable state in some form.


Arrogance is a meaningless metric, actually I think Montgomery, De Gaulle and Patton must have all been deeply insufferable. I wouldn't say he was overrated though, no one puts him on a par with Von Manstein or Zhukov, except perhaps himself. He was however highly capable and a safe pair of hands, he usually brought victory, whether spectacular or not, and his losses were more setbacks than disasters. The Wehrmacht, including Rommel, had swept all before them until Montgomery came along and for that he perhaps received greater adulation than was necessarily justified. I would also say he looked after his troops well and never threw his men's lives away recklessly, no doubt adding to his popularity. He learnt from his experiences in the trenches where Haig was obsessed with winning his great victory when the attritional trench warfare meant none was possible.

Alexander was no doubt better company and more affable, but Alan Brooke was right to insist on appointing the more capable Montgomery.

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