Even on Sunday morning it seemed that the onset of* Palmyra successfully repulsed: the Syrian government had time to declare victory, but, as with them often, wishful thinking.
Information about what ISIL fighters failed to drop, confirmed by the Russian Ministry of defense, but it was about that part of the operations in which it participated directly. Namely, on a successful (at the time) the counter-attack of Syrian forces on previously captured by the Islamists mountain of Al-tal just North of the city – one of the key heights around Palmyra. There is evidence that a fundamental role in the struggle for the mountain was not only videoconferencing, but also Russian special forces, providing target designation for attack aircraft and helicopters. In this area, the militants suffered heavy losses, comparable to the complete destruction complete battalion group (BTG), including equipment.
However, the offensive continued with the Eastern and South-Eastern directions where the Russian aircraft are not fundamentally worked, afraid to get on residential areas and historical monuments. Using as reference point the Elevator is part of the ISIS began to advance toward residential areas. Already at this stage by order of the Governor of the province of HOMS from the evacuation of the civilian population, resources, and values.
After successive capture of the hill al-; and the eponymous residential neighborhood, and then the so-called Officer of the complex and the Citadel neighborhoods (what city called Tadmor) was fired under the control of jihadists. At the same time continued pressure on the militants in the district fork in the road that in theory could lead to complete and not operative to encircle government forces. The retreat began from the city, which still cover a separate group in the South-East, including Russian special forces. Any objective data about the situation around the base of the T-4 as of Sunday night was not.
Tactical defeats of the CAA during the war in Syria was already a lot, and really would like to see a series that led to the idiotic decisions is finally over. At some moment began to seem that the General staff in Damascus has learned many sad lessons. Strange errors, crazy strategic doubts and failures at the level of battalion command was an order of magnitude less, and the operation in Aleppo was carried out almost perfectly. And here – is.
In addition to the birth trauma of the Syrian army, it is possible to point to several conclusions arising directly from the "third battle of Palmyra" (almost certainly the fourth). Retention of the city was much more important for ideological and image reasons than for purely military. Syrian government forces do not plan any action in this region of the country until the spring of 2017, and Tadmor conducted systematic accumulation of resources for the attack on Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor. Fortunately, for the most part these resources were evacuated, otherwise in the hands of ISIL would get a significant amount of weapons and supplies.
Here the most important thing – the process of accumulation. From government troops, there is still no decisive advantage in material terms, and to create the operational rule have a few months to gather the most suitable for the planned operation forces on a narrow front. Offensive in Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor was postponed for three months in advance it is for resource, but also political reasons. Now, all strategic plans were broken as to restore control over Palmyra'll need to pull there assault units from other fronts.
It looks most logical to transfer to this part of the front divisions from under of Damascus, where a few days very successfully concluded the operation to liberate towns and villages in Huta, in the first place, the Khan-al-Shih. Sweep Aleppo additional reserves not required, so that the released assault units to move to Palmyra for the day.
But at this stage it is necessary not just to supply the ancient city under control, you need to copy the tactics of the Islamists. From a military point of view of fundamental importance are the residential quarters of Tadmor and not ancient ruins, and the height of the different levels of responsibility, towering over the city. It is their "jerks" captured jihadists, after which a PAL turned out to have both on hand, and the return of one of them – At-tal – through voltage VCS and the Russian spetsnaz General a disaster is not canceled.
In addition, the principle was the preservation of control over the intersection of three roads, connecting Palmyra with Damascus and HOMS. Even the theoretical threat of loss led to the order to retreat. It is understandable, it is a desert, in the absence of a full transport aircraft, air assault and enough helicopters, the roads are becoming critically important for offensive and for defense. It's kind of similar to the era of the Napoleonic wars, only with other firepower.
Only one aircraft this will not solve the problem. Should be a fundamentally new tactical decision. It could be the increase in the fleet of transport helicopters and the creation of a separate assault groups, which could be planted in the rear of the militants on the key points. This option was considered as early this spring as the time when the organization of the attack on Palmyra, but in the Syrian army are simply not found the right number of trained people. Train them then no one came from, and the direct use of Russian DSG undesirable from a political point of view (although, by all accounts, it would solve the problem for the day).
The militia obviously loses jihadist infantry in a direct collision. The air support and special forces is not correct. Advantages in technology have jihadists there (although At-tal seems to be even some ACS light), they are extremely motivated Marines literally sweep the first line of the Syrian recruits, who for months used to feel in Palmyra on the resort.
Another problem is that of intelligence. And there is already someone needs to lose his head or at least shoulder straps, with two openings. ISIS gathered under Palmyra, about 4,000 people with equipment and supplies. It is clear that most of them come from the Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zor and even from Iraq, from Anbar province, where the militants successfully counterattack the Pro-American coalition, thus obtaining free reserves. It is clear that this crowd is not gathered in one area of the desert, and was stretched around Palmyra in the front, resembling an ellipse. But this is too much for Syria – for smooth deserts, where neither to hide nor to escape. Tanks radiate heat, people burn bonfires and talking on the phone. Where in this time were drones, satellites, electronic warfare systems? Where human intelligence, in the end, if it is there at all?
ISIS has achieved tactical and operational surprise – a night attack to pass through the first line of defense of the government forces. And on the Northern section (from the same At-tal) they themselves seemed surprised at their own success. All Russian VKS Sunday successfully engaged in "fire fighting" in one area, but other areas soon fell the same way as the North. And free reserves, to quickly transfer them to a dangerous area. They covered only a crossroads, and the city had to leave, although in theory it was still possible to compete.
While we do not know the Russian experts were responsible for reconnaissance in the area of Palmyra, but not to notice in the desert chetyrehtysyachnuyu group with tanks, MLRS and SAU are very difficult, we still not during the Crusades live. The only justification can be the assumption that the accumulation of jihadist forces was seen as a preparation for a massive offensive on a single front, which was considered a deep rear, and as the organization of the usual "breakthrough", what are they doing for almost half a year. But then this is a mistake of intelligence, not only in obtaining the data and in their interpretation. Intellectual failure. The Syrians do tend to it, and the worst thing that can happen to an analyst or intelligence officer, is the emotional desire to interpret to you entering any information in a positive way. We need the opposite – almost everything must be considered as a potential threat. It spoils the character and displayed on the psyche, but it's the law of the genre.
Another thing is that the bosses in the periods of euphoria begins to demand "positive reports", accusing skeptics of alarmism. And then, even if you see on the screen in the tank, which should not be there, you start to either ignore or invent his emergence as a convenient excuse. The result of this game of imagination it turns out the next morning, when the front already collapsed.
Departure from Palmyra – lose rather a fashion than military. Of course, have to expend resources and time to restore the status quo. In ideological terms will have to endure the burst of activity "critics" and just banal Russophobia. But the rate of Stripping of Aleppo, show that to unleash the real potential (the assault part, not the militia) will be in the foreseeable future.
Another thing is that these events are a good should lead to a revision of certain tactical principles, and habits of the government army. And, perhaps, even to more dense operational and intelligence monitoring by the Russian group.
People and equipment sorry. The rest is quickly renewable.
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