Washington, DC (TFC) – US officials are crying and launching a media blitz about Russia’s airstrikes in Syria. The western mediasmiles and nods as it continues to support DC’s narrative without examining the realities of the situation on the ground or the intentions of Moscow.
By: Justin King
This article first appeared at TheFifthColumn
The Russian Air Force bombed areas held by a rebel group that engages in kidnappings for ransom, employschild soldiers, executes civilians, and tortures prisoners. This isn’t disputed by the US. The problem is that this particular rebel group is funded andtrained by the CIA. These are the “moderate rebels” the US has been supporting. The air strikes are proof positive that Russian President Putin has no intention of abandoning Syrian President Assad and that Russia will not follow the US script. The US hoped that Russia would limit its attacks to the Islamic State forces, which were alsoclandestinely supported by NATO. By focusing the fight on the Islamic State, the “moderate rebels” of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) could continue to destabilize Assad.
The US fails to understand the Russian plan
It should come as no surprise that the Administration which has led the US through one of the worst foreign policy disasters in recent history has failed to grasp the situation. Russian military doctrine and US military doctrine are very different. The Russians have no intention of engaging in a low-intensity conflict. The plan is simply to destroy opposition to Assad. The US screams that Russia has not targeted the Islamic State directly yet. US doctrine stipulates that since the Islamic State is more public and brutal while committing war crimes, they should be the priority. Russian doctrine focuses on destroying pockets of resistance, creating a single front, and then steam rolling over the opposition in battles of attrition. It should not have come as surprise to US intelligence that the Russian military targeted a pocket of resistance near Homs, the third largest city in Syria, and two fronts that threaten Hama and Latakia, the fourth and fifth largest cities. Latakia also maintains a port that will be important if there is a mass buildup of Russian troops. Air routes into Syria have to skirt the airspace of other nations; logistically the ports need to be secured. The Institute for the Study of War has produced a map that clearly illustrates why Russia chose the targets it did.
Once these pockets are destroyed and the major cities are secured, Russia will begin moving it’s operations further East. While Russia may engage in some bombing of the Islamic State to degrade capabilities prior to this, these operations will be attacking targets of opportunity and serve little genuine purpose beyond public relations. As Syrian government and Russian forces move East, the Islamic State will decline to go toe to toe in pitched battles. They will instead flee across the border into Iraq, and Frankenstein’s monster will once again become the problem of the United States.
US officials made veiled threats about the dangers of Russian and US warplanes operating in the same vicinity. Of course, the Russian military, via an emissary to the US Embassy in Baghdad, provided the US with a one-hour warning to clear Syrian airspace. While the US may posture all it wishes, the fact remains that Russia was invited by the recognized government of Syria to conduct military operations in its territory. The United States has not been invited. The US is unarguably the aggressor in Syria. It has funded groups that by all rights should be regarded as terrorist organizations. The US has no moral authority and is not in a position to tell Moscow how to run its war.
It is important to remember that the US Defense Intelligence Agencyhas stated that Syria is unlikely to survive as a nation. There is no reason for the United States to escalate in an attempt to place a friendly regime in Damascus. The best strategy for the US at this point would be to cut its losses and allow Russia to clean up the mess that has left millions homeless and hundreds of thousands dead. The United Kingdom has already decided to cooperate with Russia.
Sadly, another difference in Russian and US military doctrine is the consideration of civilians. While Russia does not historically target civilians, it also makes little effort to avoid them. The threshold of what is considered acceptable collateral damage is much higher. The world should expect the civilian death toll to rise. This will most likely cause another spike in the number of refugees fleeing the country.
This article first appeared at TheFifthColumn