02 January 2016

What it Means to Have Meaningful and Achievable Goals

Notwithstanding all the reports from western that the Russians are somehow or other are immersing themselves into a quagmire, a military analysis of the Russian campaign in Syria has concluded that their campaign is well conceived and likely to achieve its goals at a relatively low cost:
Three months into his military intervention in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved his central goal of stabilizing the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain military operations at this level for years, U.S. officials and military analysts say.

That assessment comes despite public assertions by President Barack Obama and top aides that Putin has embarked on an ill-conceived mission in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it will struggle to afford and that will likely fail.

"I think it's indisputable that the Assad regime, with Russian military support, is probably in a safer position than it was," said a senior administration official, who requested anonymity. Five other U.S. officials interviewed by Reuters concurred with the view that the Russian mission has been mostly successful so far and is facing relatively low costs.


Yet since its campaign began on Sept. 30, Russia has suffered minimal casualties and, despite domestic fiscal woes, is handily covering the operation's cost, which analysts estimate at $1-2 billion a year. The war is being funded from Russia's regular annual defense budget of about $54 billion, a U.S. intelligence official said.


Putin has said his intervention is aimed at stabilizing the Assad government and helping it fight the Islamic State group, though Western officials and Syrian opposition groups say its air strikes mostly have targeted moderate rebels.
The western response to the Russian intervention, which, BTW, is actually legal under international law because the sovereign government of Syria has requested the aid, is completely incoherent.

Case in point, the absurd and self contradictory statements by the head of Human Rights Watch: On December 25 of this year he said that the killing of Zahran Alloush is an attempt to eliminate any moderate opposition, while on December 30 of this year, he claimed that the initial release of Alloush from prison in 2011 was an attempt to taint the opposition with a jihadist brush.

Note that the Russians are also supporting the Kurds, while the NATO forces are both supporting the Kurds (most of NATO) and bombing them (our NATO "allies"the Turks)

The Russian strategy appears to be effective because their goals are limited, and not self-contradictory:
Rather than pushing back the opposition, Russia may be settling for defending Assad's grip on key population centers that include the heartland of his minority Alawite sect, said the U.S. intelligence official.

Russia is taking advantage of the operation to test new weapons in battlefield conditions and integrate them into its tactics, the intelligence official said. It is refining its use of unarmed surveillance drones, the official added.

"The Russians didn't go blindly into this," said the U.S. intelligence official, adding that they "are getting some benefit out of the cost."


Vasily Kashin, a Moscow-based analyst, said the war is not financially stressing Russia.

"All the available data shows us that the current level of military effort is completely insignificant for the Russian economy and Russian budget," said Kashin, of the Center for Analyses of Strategies and Technologies.

"It can be carried on at the same level year after year after year," he said.
Compare this to the US policy:
  • Support regime change in Syria with a goal of a democratic and secular replacement.
  • Support for Saudi and Turkish efforts supporting Sunni Salafist Jihadi forces,which included the creation of ISIS.
  • Opposition to ISIS, the declaration that they are of a significant threat to the US, and supporting a massive air campaign against them.
  • Support of Kurdish forces fighting ISIS.
  • Allowing Turkish attacks against those same Kurdish forces by Turkey.
  • Supporting "moderate" rebels that collapse as soon as they end up in conflict with Jihadi rebels.  (Said support ends up in ISIS hands)
  • Demanding the removal of the Assad regime.
  • Demanding that government remains intact in some form.
This is the stupidest big of mind f%$#ery since Johnson and Kennedy's "Best and Brightest" believed that they could win the war in Vietnam.

Basically, the Russians are following Barack Obama's stated policy, "Don't do stupid sh%$," and Barack Obama is ignoring ignoring this policy, which is why their strategy appears to be gaining traction, and ours does not.

H/t Moon of Alabama.


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