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The success of the Russian operation in Syria came as a surprise even inside Russia
Material posted: Publication date: 01-10-2016

A year ago, began the operation of the Russian HQs in Syrian Arab Republic. Then, under the threat was not only the Syrian army, but the very existence of the Syrian state. Although the final outcome of the review early, it is already possible to say that Moscow's intervention was of fundamental importance from a military and from a political point of view.

September 30, 2015, the Russian aircraft launched the first strikes on targets in Syria and have since made about 15 thousand sorties (for the first five months – nine thousand), the acting is very limited forces in comparison with the Pro-American coalition.

"The Syrian government army at the beginning of the Russian operation was in an extremely difficult situation and condition. At least three key areas"

Connection to the operation of strategic aviation and the Navy was in the nature episodic, largely situational, and demonstrative. Nevertheless, the Russian group showed amazing efficiency, mainly due to the frequency of sorties. 40 aircraft with replacement crews made up to 75 flights a day, while the Americans and their allies – only 20 missions for 180 cars, and most of the NATO sorties were made in vain: the aircraft was returning to base after using up all his ammunition. In addition, the height was the training and personal dedication of the crews and the airfield team. Arrangement of the transactions of this magnitude outside of the Russian Federation, in unfamiliar and very challenging terrain, relying on a single airfield was surprisingly good and well-coordinated. Especially given the fact that the Russian VKS (and in principle the army and Navy) it is the first such operation in history. In addition, videoconferencing and the Navy have successfully tested new types of equipment, weapons and tools, and some of them (cruise missiles, for example) – also for the first time in history.

It all options an unprecedented operation, all the details and consequences of which can only be assessed over time, and the war in Syria is still far from complete. Intermediate results are assessed now in relation to the anniversary, and it's just abstract, calendar date, convenient as a starting point, but not tied to real plans and events on earth. Initial, the statements that the operation will last for a few months, but we'll see," also wore a somewhat abstract nature.

In the Syrian case directly to compare objectives and actual result of the operation in principle is technically impossible. Prior to the operation of its purely military objectives were formulated in the abstract and politicized. "To defeat ISIS*" a designation for a bomber, it is political fixing common course of action, and combines with other members of the international coalitions that pursued the same from all the clutches of the fleeing target. Specific military operations have been tied to the plans and capabilities of the Syrian army and the current state of Affairs on the fronts.

In the end, the immediate commanders on the ground is carried out in Damascus, and the Russian aims only to "facilitate" and "support". But initially it was clear that without control over land exclusively to any air assault operation is pointless. On this and burned before all the efforts of the US and NATO relied on his notorious "manufacturability" of warfare against a weaker opponent. In addition, military operations have increasingly filled the political context has also altered the General character of the goals – sometimes directly in the course of conducting purely military operations, as is happening now, for example, in Aleppo.

Russia's fight against terrorism in Syria: what forces and how to apply missile and bomb strikes

The Syrian government army at the beginning of the Russian operation was in an extremely difficult situation and condition. At least three key areas the question was about physical survival of the country. First, is the situation in Latakia province, where the militants were preparing to attack from the mountains to the coastal plain with the capture of the cities of Latakia and Tartus, which would deprive the Syrian government's main agricultural area and access to the Mediterranean sea. Secondly, the area of Aleppo was cut off from supplies, his defense was a resistance bled and surrounded by disparate parts of the government army and local self-defense.In addition, some tasks are done perfectly and in full, not stated in advance, and others appeared along the way.

The loss of the largest city in the country could turn the entire political situation in Syria and around it. And, third, near Palmyra concentrated a large force of ISIS, ready to roll in the direction of Damascus in connection with the Eastern neighborhoods of the city, which has long controlled the terrorists. The implementation of each of these threats separately could lead to the collapse of government line of defense, the chaos and destruction of the Syrian state.

And all these threats can be successfully resolved only with the help of Russian troops, and at a later stage – and of the army and marine corps.

During fierce fighting in the mountainous area of the province of Latakia was actively used all the potential of Russian attack aircraft, which allowed to break the defense of the jihadists, relying on strong points in the rocks and mountain villages. Began the development of government troops in the direction of Idlib and the Turkish border, which led to heavy losses of the enemy and leaving them well-fortified mountain area. Palmyra, a quick strike was completely liberated from the jihadists that became the first significant success of Damascus for the many years of civil war. It played a huge role in strengthening the fighting spirit of the army, its prestige and obtaining new experience, not to mention the strengthening of positions of civil authority. And success in an epic battle for Aleppo, and all would have been impossible without the unprecedented activity of the Russian aircraft, carrying out a unique number of departures on target directly on the front line.

All this has reduced the pressure on considered secondary sectors, in particular in the provinces of Hama, HOMS and Deraa. At this stage in the Syrian General staff misjudged the situation and the balance of forces and undertook a series of unsuccessful offensives in these areas. Russian HQs have been forced to keep these attacks has reduced the potential groupings from more important sectors of the front. In the provinces of Hama and HOMS on long stretches of the front in the open countryside, began a protracted battle with varying degrees of success, which unexpectedly delayed the operation and gave a ground for pessimistic assessments of the capabilities of the government army.In addition to direct support of government forces, Russian VKS struck at communications and supply systems. The entire logistical system of the jihadists five months was destroyed, stopped illegal oil trade that brought them the main financial income, destroyed the system of preparation of fighters and formation of new parts. This had an impact on the tactics of the jihadists, who massively shifted to the use of terrorist methods, "Jihad-mobiles" with suicide bombers and makeshift weapons, such as improvised mortars firing gas cylinders (replaced the U.S. 81-mm mortars). Regular replenishment of forward units of the enemy was reduced to a minimum, and they had to abandon plans for a large-scale offensive operations, focusing on targeted attacks. In some cases, ISIS has even been required to throw in the Syria part of Iraq. The strategic initiative is entirely shifted to the government army.

The Syrian General staff for a long time fluctuated, choosing the direction of the main blow, the hasty several times since the attack on unpromising sites. So, the visible error was an attempt to advance in the bare desert from Palmyra via the Yttrium in the direction of Raqqa, exclusively politically motivated, but not accompanied by appropriate resources. As a result of counterattack of ISIS attack government troops were stopped, so much so that again threatening the newly liberated Palmyra. The situation was saved extreme actions of the Russian aviation, which almost single-handedly (the government forces were retreating randomly) destroyed attackers in the desert part of ISIS. A similar situation arose during the battle for Aleppo and around it.

Under the same Palmyra Russian VKS conducted a unique operation to liberate the city of al-Qaryatayn, one of the key localities for rare desert highways. Part of the LIH is approximately 30 times tried to throw in al-Qaryatayn reinforcements from Raqqa, but each time they were destroyed by Russian aircraft on the approach to the city. As a result, the al-Qaryatayn was occupied by government troops. None of the soldiers of the Syrian army in the capture of that strategically important city in the end did not hurt that, when every soldier without exception, fantastic success.

By the way, by results of unsuccessful actions of the government forces to the East of Palmyra had to create a second airfield in the vicinity of the town, which relocated the Russian helicopters, and have there units of the Russian special operation Forces (SDF) and the marine corps. Part 810-th separate brigade of Marines (det Marines) of the black sea fleet and the 7th airborne assault (mountain) airborne division, together with the engineering parts ensure the protection of bases Hamim and Tartus. Part of the special forces and military police ensure the safety message on several routes, primarily Damascus – Palmyra. Earlier, the special forces participated in several operations in the province of HOMS, and now the marine corps during the recent armistice was entered on the road of Castello at Aleppo, succeeding there (by agreement with the American party) the Syrian government to ensure ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.

In the South of Syria, in the province of Deraa, the Russian VKS in severe weather conditions provided the assault by government forces heavily fortified the strategically important town of Sheikh Miskin. A storm developed exclusively hard. The jihadists several times passed in counterattack, and the Russian VKS cumulatively spent more than a hundred sorties, securing the release of Sheikh Miskin and eventually – control over key routes in the South of the country.

One of the psychological effects of actions of the Russian group was almost a complete cessation from ISIS and other cannibalistic groups of acts of intimidation: the mass and barbaric executions of prisoners, representatives of religious and ethnic minorities and simply disagree with the jihadist regime. Several operations air vengeance calmed ISIS, and similar episodes were unique, a lot of the really wild groups such as Harakat al-Sinki" former "moderate" corn-fed American help monsters.

Quite a surprise to many observers was the ability of the Russian Armed forces to organize political and information support of the operation. The centers for reconciliation – a unique structure which contacts with the Syrian military and civil authorities, including and in rather delicate areas. Suddenly it became clear that Russian Armed forces have sufficient number of specialists with knowledge of the Arabic language (Syrian dialect) and specific skills in order to negotiate with the mukhtars of the villages and even individual leaders of armed opposition groups in the establishment of the ceasefire. Beyond any criticism, and the work of the information centre in Moscow, showing not only unprecedented openness, and competent efficiency and stiffness in conditions of information war with no rules. The same applies to coordination centres, which were on an empty space arranged to communicate with the staffs of the US and NATO in Jordan and Iraq.

The path of Russian cruise missiles from the Caspian sea to targets in Syria

The operation in Syria and served as a proving ground for testing new weapons. Particularly noteworthy were the launches at targets in Syria cruise missiles, sea-and submarine-based system ("Caliber"), which made a splash on a planetary scale. However, in the course of these launches were detected and weaknesses of these missiles. They proved to be much more reliable than American "Tomahawk", but, according to experts, still have to debug the very principles of their combat use, according to the size of the payload, is not always compatible with the parameters of the target.

At the same time, new ships and submarines of the Navy and their crews participating in operation, have proven to be excellent. In General, the information and strategic effect of the demonstration and validation of new types of weapons was much stronger than expected.

The separate gratitude is deserved and the Russian defense industry. Few modern aircraft systems would survive a technical load-in particularly difficult climatic conditions. The so-called turnover period of each aircraft exceeded significantly the previous achievement, owned by Israelis, and the technical failures in this case tends to zero.

Fundamental problems arose not so much in coordinating actions of the Russian troops and the Syrian troops as when assessing the effectiveness of the Russian HQs. Government forces first relied on the Russian air force as some kind of magic wand that you can wave in any situation and at any time. Coordination "army aviation" was present in somewhat distorted form, but with the development of the operations grew and the experience of the government troops. After one year, that's another army, capable of planning and conducting coordinated operations.

The level of training of Syrian officers, of course, always left much to be desired, but the current army formed on very different principles than in times of war with Israel, she leads a brutal civil war for survival, and Syrian troops themselves have a vested interest in mastering new techniques and tactics. Russian military and technical advisors were able in the shortest possible time to prepare a sufficient number of tank crews who have mastered modern types of armored vehicles. The same applies to the new for the region species RZSO. It is harder to deal with pilots, but the Syrian crews in training mode several times participated in joint videoconferencing operations, which is a great progress for the pilots, who were previously familiar only with obsolescent systems.

In recent times it has changed for the better and the nature of the relationship between the Russian and the Syrian command. Paradoxically, but in the initial stages of operations where more intelligent and learners were Iranian volunteer and Hezbollah, and the Syrian General staff for a long time continued to live their separate lives, which led to delays in operations and several strategic errors.

There are many purely technical issues identified by the operation. They are too detailed and technologically, to detail them to understand, and President Putin has several times voiced them, and the relevant research Institute the task of revision and certain types of weapons and systems coordination. But no system failures have not been identified, and the losses (20 dead, one su-24 was shot down by the Turks, and four helicopters) understandable, as hard as it may sound.

It is difficult to describe the work of air defense and electronic systems, but these data are more difficult for public analysis. And the distinct threats in this direction were recorded. Unobvious and the outcome of the work of strategic intelligence, except hard to check claims that at the first stage of the operation was destroyed about 2000 fighters from Russia, including not only the efforts of SCD, but infiltrability in ISIS and other groups agents. According to indirect data, it is close to the truth, and therefore, was eliminated and the threat of the spread of jihadism in Russia. And it was one of the main explicit and stated goals of the operation.

In General the whole system of the Armed forces of Russia – from videoconferencing and satellites to intelligence and specialists in information – demonstrated a very high degree of readiness that was a revelation not only for our Western partners, but for many specialists in Russia itself. Another thing is that while the war in Syria is not completed, it is impossible to sum up and final results of the operation.

But one of the obvious preliminary results should be described that operation in Syria remains limited in its means and forces. There has been involvement in the civil war, large forces of the Russian army, and the use of ground forces and naval infantry yet justified and dosed. No "new Afghanistan", which broadcast a loud chorus of liberal opposition, did not happen and will not happen, given the developments on the fronts of the situation. And it is possible that if the fall and winter of 2015/2016, the Syrian General staff is not mired in pointless battles in the secondary sectors of the front, then at the end of the year, Russian operations, the situation would be even more favorable.

The political context strongly lubricates the purely military results, that prevents to separate them from the General situation in Syria. But in a year of fighting the jihadists and joined them groups inflicted a decisive defeat, which was impossible without the participation of Russian forces. The current situation, of course, is still dangerous and difficult, but it is not the summer of 2016, when everything hung in the balance. And political confrontation between world powers – the result of the work done by Russian army.

Policy really hampers the purely military development, but our Western partners should understand that may be strictly opposite: the military victory of the government forces, in Aleppo, for example, would deprive the jihadists and the opposition even a slim chance of military victory, and therefore will have to negotiate politically. But when very different input data. But because the new results of the military operations of the Russian forces in Syria will have to adjust again after an undetermined time, and not by calendar date. I would like to still faster.

Evgeny Krutikov


Tags: Russia , war , Syria

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