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Thread: Syria: a civil war (closed)

  1. #441
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Minor disagreement...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    ...the military can achieve clear military objectives, it is the rest of our system that is broken. The military, was effective in achieving its objectives in Grenada (despite the high level of incompetence that eventually contributed the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act), it was effective in Panama, Desert Storm, and a few other situations post WWII.
    I essentially agree that we do better with clear objectives and that "the rest of the system..." is, if not broken, generally less effective. With the stipulation that the political and / or policy level is the weakest link.

    You're correct about the incompetence in Grenada but I disagree that we were effective in those other situations -- had you said adequate, I'd agree but effective not so much as to me "effective" entails competence and while we were and are today slightly less incompetent than in Grenada, we still need a lot of work -- the system is corrupted...
    When objectives are clear and achievable we do well, when we decide to intervene in situations that are not clear like Lebanon (not unlike Syria now) we tend to put troops in harm's way with vague goals and high expectations that often lead to great disappointment.
    That's the rub, isn't it? "Clear and achievable..." We do not assess achievability very well in too many cases. We can do the big stuff but the smaller fine points trip us up...

    Lack of strategic thought capability IMO.
    I realize there will always be those situations that are vague, but we need to think twice, three or more times before leaping.
    Yes. Others not withstanding, military force is not appropriately applied to every situation some do not like. In fact, it is generally inappropriate and that is particularly true if it is ineptly applied -- which is what we do more often than not...:

    I have long contended that the potential for ineptitude MUST be a planning consideration. None of us, as Leaders would send our most incompetent Troopie on a sensitive effort; we would not just say "Phugaboski, it's your turn, Go..." Yet at the macro level, that's precisely what we do.

    I believe our major flaw in that regard is that we assume that we can and will do the mission -- the old 'can do' attitude reinforced by pride and egos. I suggest that in the METT-TC formulation, at the strategic level -- where that formulation is as if not more important than it is at the tactical level -- the most important thing is not the Mission. The critical factors, strategically, are the last three letters:

    - Troops available. Quite simply, have we trained and practiced to do this or can we do so in a timely manner and are the Troops capable of the effort required. For example, the GPF will never be able to do FID very well nor should it be able to do so.

    - Time. How long will this take and will the Voters and more importantly, the Politicians, continue to support the effort pretty much unequivocally for that period. If the answer for either group is less than a firm 'yes,' we better have a Plan B...

    - Civil considerations. At both ends; both the US polity and the target area or mission focus denizens. In a major war, that last becomes somewhat academic, in all other types of combat, it is a 'must consider with full knowledge' aspect. As examples in Viet Nam, Somalia and in recent actions we had access to pretty comprehensive knowledge of the target area population -- but we mostly ignored knowledgeable persons due to the pride / ego problems -- that's just foolish...

    While those factors merit far greater consideration than we have apparently given them in the past, we really have a broader problem. Wile there are many very competent people in the services, the institutions that are the US Armed Forces -- all of them -- have not adapted well to change. We're still saddled with a 1917 model personnel systems and training systems that are in too many cases only slightly improved from that same year model. Until those are fixed and the quality of the forces -- people and training; the other stuff is ancillary -- is improved, things will be no better. We will continue to take four steps forward and three back...

    The good news is that 'adequate' is acceptable and still puts us most always a notch or several above all potential adversaries.

  2. #442
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I'll meet you half way on this, but I think if you look at our history of intervention we have continued to intervene fairly regularly even after undesirable interventions. Post Vietnam we intervened in Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, etc. However, we didn't intervene in a number of other troubled spots in the world.
    We've a short collective memory, and we often think (sometimes correctly, sometimes not) that intervention is a smaller fight will be quicker and easier. The oscillation between interventionist and non-interventionist modes is not neat or even, but I do think it exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Bob's World asserted we intervene because we have a standing Army, and if we didn't have one we would be much more deliberate in our decision making process, because Congress would have to call up the reserves. I'm sure that is true to an extent, but to assert we intervene just because we can is false, and this proposal directly opposes our Defense Strategic Guidance to maintain global leadership (which JMA pointed to indirectly).
    I've stayed out of that one, on purpose. It's true of course that you can't use a capacity you haven't got, and that when you have a capacity there's sometimes a temptation to use it when you shouldn't. That's not necessarily an argument for not having the capacity (you might someday need it faster than you can build it) but it's a good reason to think twice or more before using it. I wouldn't go so far as to say that intervention is never desirable, but IMO the default reaction to an intervention situation should be to "just say no", unless there are very compelling reasons to be involed and a clear, practical objective presents itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think JMA is right to a point, the military can achieve clear military objectives, it is the rest of our system that is broken. The military, was effective in achieving its objectives in Grenada (despite the high level of incompetence that eventually contributed the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act), it was effective in Panama, Desert Storm, and a few other situations post WWII. When objectives are clear and achievable we do well, when we decide to intervene in situations that are not clear like Lebanon (not unlike Syria now) we tend to put troops in harm's way with vague goals and high expectations that often lead to great disappointment.

    I realize there will always be those situations that are vague, but we need to think twice, three or more times before leaping.
    Agreed on all counts, but I'd still point out that other people's fights are an inherently messy business that often don't lend themselves to clear, practical objectives. Even when we think such an objective exists, it often proves ephemeral and it's easy to get sucked into mission creep. Typically none of the contending parties will share our goals and objectives, and when you have multiple parties pursuing incompatible objectives, life tends to get messy.

    I'd still be curious about what "doing it right" in Syria would have been: what specific actions could have been undertaken and what the anticipated response to those actions would have been. I don't suppose we'll ever know...
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  3. #443
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Whatever...

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I don't engage with you because you don't engage with individuals but rather play to the gallery and I don't intend to allow myself to be used in that manner.
    I didn't know there was a gallery. Be that as it may, your posts beg certain very obvious questions, such as:

    What do you think should have been done?

    What result do you think that course of action would have achieved?

    Why do you think that course of action would have had that particular result, as opposed to any number of unpredicted other results?

    If you won't answer those questions, the obvious conclusion is that you can't.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  4. #444
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill

    "Global Leadership" does not mean a duty for Global Action. In fact, a leader that is too quick to jump in first and do everything himself is often the worst kind of leadership, as it tends to disempower the very audience it attempts to lead.

    Yes, we have grown used to having a warfighting army on the shelf ready to go for the past 65 years, and for 40 of those years it was necessary as part of our Cold War containment strategy and our commitment to defend Western Europe from a potential Soviet invasion. European nations require larger armies in peacetime than maritime nations (Japan, US, Britain to name 3).

    We have become a one-trick pony and it has shifted the base of national power from the Congress to the Executive; from the people to the President. It has allowed an emotional people to act on our emotions and leap into conflicts without the cooling off period provided by the process laid out in our Constitution. For the same reason people can't buy a gun the second they want it.

    But we don't lead so much as preach, cajole and dictate. Seems to me we are increasingly making more noise to a smaller audience due to the application of this very type of "act first, think later" leadership we have been applying.

    The fact is the US has never suffered from having a small peacetime army. Yes, we have been slow to foreign wars, saving billions of dollars and millions of American lives. When did that become a bad thing?
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  5. #445
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    TEHRAN, June 19 (UPI) -- Iran, Russia, China and Syria plan to conduct a joint military exercise in the Middle East in coming weeks, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

    Citing "informed sources" the agency said some 90,000 troops from the four countries are expected to participate in land, air and sea maneuvers off the Syrian coast, including air defense and missile units.
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-Ne...#ixzz1yFPgb1U6
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  6. #446
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    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e2850114-b...#ixzz1yFQe3JpW

    Russia has announced it is readying two warships to sail to Syria to protect Russian citizens, in a sign that it is taking precautions against a worsening of the security situation there.

    A spokesman for Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Vyacheslav Trukhachev, told Russia’s Interfax news agency the mission would be undertaken “in case of necessity”. His comments appeared designed to clarify speculation that warships had already set sail for Syria. Interfax had earlier quoted an anonymous official as saying that was the case on Monday morning.
    One of the warships, said Mr Trukhachev, carries a 150-strong contingent of marines, in addition to 25 tanks, but he did not give details of the other ship. He made clear that the purpose of the mission would be only to evacuate Russian personnel and property from Syria.
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  7. #447
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    A Russian ship believed to be carrying helicopters and missiles for Syria has been effectively stopped in its tracks off the coast of Scotland after its insurance was cancelled at the behest of the British government.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...for-Syria.html
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  8. #448
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Putin's ship stops - not insured

    I have no special insight into the workings of the Russian state, but I simply cannot believe this ship will stop and return home. This ship can be insured by a non-EU insurer, a Russian insurer or gain a Russian state certificate of cover / indemnity.

    On a different, related theme - prompted by the possible despatch of troops to the Russian naval facility in Syria.

    How many Russians are working in Syria, excluding diplomats? I would expect until recently families accompanied them, so are there signs of families leaving, or not returning after holidays?
    davidbfpo

  9. #449
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Syrian air defences “shot down” the Turkish jet fighter that went missing while on patrol near the border between the two countries on Friday, according to local television reports.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghter-jet.html
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  10. #450
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Russian & other ethnic groups in Syria

    I asked three days ago:
    On a different, related theme - prompted by the possible despatch of troops to the Russian naval facility in Syria.

    How many Russians are working in Syria, excluding diplomats? I would expect until recently families accompanied them, so are there signs of families leaving, or not returning after holidays?
    Nicholas Redman off IISS has the answer, edited to key points:
    Yet sending ships and marines to the coast of Syria also points to an interest that sets Russia aside from all other permanent members of the UN Security Council – it has people on the ground. Rather a lot of people, in fact.

    In the first instance, these are the Russian armed services personnel working in Tartous and supporting the use of Russian military equipment by the Syrian armed forces.

    Secondly, there are perhaps 30,000 Russians who are married to Syrian citizens and are resident in the country...If the opposition were to win power, the nationals of a country which had backed Assad to the hilt, over many years, would face an uncertain future.

    Thirdly, Syria is home to between 50,000 and 100,000 Circassians who originally hail from Russian lands around the Black Sea and the Caucasus.... They are one of a number of Syrian minorities who support the Assad government, and most reside in and around Homs, Damascus and Aleppo. A few hundred Syrian Circassians have already emigrated to Russia but this trickle could become a stream if violence persists in Syria.
    Link:http://iissvoicesblog.wordpress.com/...more-in-syria/

    Don't you love "kith & kin" turning in places you may now prefer were at home or somewhere safer. Almost shades of the US medical students in Grenada.
    davidbfpo

  11. #451
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I have no special insight into the workings of the Russian state, but I simply cannot believe this ship will stop and return home. This ship can be insured by a non-EU insurer, a Russian insurer or gain a Russian state certificate of cover / indemnity.
    A Russian arms ship forced to turn back to port by the Britain last week is to make a second attempt to deliver its cargo to Syria - this time under escort.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-to-Syria.html

    Turkey has called a meeting of Nato member states to discuss its response to the shooting down of one of its warplanes by Syrian forces on Friday.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18568207

    Istanbul (CNN) -- Western leaders roundly condemned the downing of a Turkish military fighter jet by Syria ahead of a NATO meeting on Tuesday on the issue.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday said she had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about Friday's incident.

    "The foreign minister briefed me on the specifics of the incident, including that the Syrian military shot its plane down without warning," Clinton said in a statement. "The United States condemns this brazen and unacceptable act in the strongest possible terms. It is yet another reflection of the Syrian authorities' callous disregard for international norms, human life and peace and security."
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/24/world/...ane/index.html
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  12. #452
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default How vital is Syria's Tartus port to Russia?

    With all the headlines about Russian support for the regime in Syria and the frequents references to a 'base' at Tartus - at last some clarity in a BBC report, which appears to rely mainly on Russian sources:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18616191
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  13. #453
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    ANTAKYA, Turkey (Reuters) - A general in the rebel Free Syria Army said on Friday that Syrian government forces had amassed around 170 tanks north of the city Aleppo, near the Turkish border, but there was no independent confirmation of the report.

    *

    Turkey deployed air defense weaponry along its border with Syria on Thursday, following Syria's downing of a Turkish warplane over the Mediterranean on Friday.
    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/id...20628?irpc=932
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  14. #454
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Close to Damascus: Air Force in action

    Last night an ITN reported:
    In total there have been 60 deaths in Douma - a suburb of the capital Damascus. It's the scene of fierce fighting, and Syrian army troops have told ITV News they've lost many men in a bitter two-day battle with rebels.
    The summary does not reflect a small portion of his report, although the headline did:
    Syrian war planes: The view from Douma
    Yes, the Syrian Air Force was bombing Douma. Apparently the first time fixed wing aircraft had been seen in use, as distinct from helicopter gunships; flying high too, so presumably not accurate bombing.

    More evidence of atrocities, with children and an entire family killed.

    Link:http://www.itv.com/news/2012-06-29/t...pulated-areas/
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  15. #455
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Turkey has scrambled six F-16 fighter jets near its border with Syria after Syrian helicopters came close to the border, the country's army says.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18666165

    BEIRUT: U.S. intelligence indicates a Turkish warplane shot down by Syrian forces was most likely hit while in Syrian airspace, lending validation to Damascus' account and putting it at odds with Ankara's, the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Mid...#ixzz1zQIcJ5gk
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  16. #456
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    The Guardian reports 2 days of continuous fighting in Damascus, more defections, even some questions being asked in Iran over whether it's wise to be backing a sinking ship...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...-damascus-live

    Too early to say it's the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, or anything else, but the turn of events does not seem to be going Assad's way. Not much discussion here, though... possibly because there isn't much talk of intervention?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 07-17-2012 at 04:22 AM.
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  17. #457
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Color me unconvinced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Too early to say it's the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, or anything else, but the turn of events does not seem to be going Assad's way. Not much discussion here, though... possibly because there isn't much talk of intervention?
    The anti-Assadists might be taking the fight to the government here, but it looks like more of the same from them to me—knock over a few cop shops, hold some urban terrain for a short period, slink out of town leaving it worse for wear and its residents waiting for the inevitable knock at the door.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  18. #458
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    On Twitter, appropriately, are pointers to news reports and rumours that the Syrian regime will recourse to chemical weapons, which are handily close to the main cities. Plus a report troops facing the Golan Heights are being redeployed.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    The anti-Assadists might be taking the fight to the government here, but it looks like more of the same from them to me—knock over a few cop shops, hold some urban terrain for a short period, slink out of town leaving it worse for wear and its residents waiting for the inevitable knock at the door.
    In the practical strategic sense, true, but if the opposition can sustain fighting in the capital, even on a hit-and-run basis, there's a real psychological impact. I'd guess there are a fair number of people in government and the military keeping as much as possible on the fence and waiting to see who looks likely to come out on top. The ability to create the perception that you're winning is important, even if that perception isn't really based on much.

    Chemical weapons would be a last resort and I suspect the rumors are just that... not sure how much the regime would really gain, and they'd just make it more difficult to retain even the tepid support they have from Russia and China.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    The rebel Free Syrian Army said it shot down on Tuesday a helicopter gunship in Damascus, scene of violent battles between army and rebel forces.
    "Yes, we have shot down a helicopter over the district of Qaboon," the FSA's Joint Command spokesman told AFP via Skype, without elaborating.
    http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-...93.html?_esi=1
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