Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: This time it's Syria

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    The events also showed that those governments were toppled and their leadership killed. Degrading of their military capability is not worth nothing, it led to total defeat for the parties concerned. Saddam survived shock and awe, by hiding in a hole in the ground, until he was captured and executed. Gaddafi survived until he was caught hiding in a gutter, then killed pretty gruesomely. The threat to Assad is not insignificant since his country is in rebellion right now.

    From where? They have no regional land bases. They’re carrier dependent.

    Even if every single one of their many allies refused to allow them to operate from their soil, carriers and other ships are still a pretty significant platform to launch a massive bombardment assault. Every ship they have is at most a few weeks hard steaming to a location near enough to assault Syria with missiles. And huge amounts of munitions can be transported around the world by planes in only a few days. Planes can, believe it or not, simply fly to the locations, possibly shuttling via aircraft carriers across oceans. Forces can be assembled extremely fast if they really want to.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    The events also showed that those governments were toppled and their leadership killed. Degrading of their military capability is not worth nothing, it led to total defeat for the parties concerned .. Saddam survived shock and awe, by hiding in a hole in the ground

    No, that was the land assault that did that. Saddam survived the cruise attacks in 2003 reasonably intact. Same with Libya. Cruise missiles are an incredibly inaccurate blunt attack instrument which make a lot of noise, blow some random things up and often miss their targets (the US DOD claim of 85% success is treated with some skepticism. That seems to be the number that actually launched) They also have less explosive force than a single 1000lb bomb. But they look neat taking off.

    The US can't use every ship they have because they are required globally. However, assuming that they can, the US carrier fleet is currently 11. They have an average of 40 aircraft with strike capacity on each one (20 of those have air to air capacity). That gives them rough parity with the Syrians. However, the US can't deploy 11 carriers. The maximum is 5 (5 are in the Pacific and 1 is rotated to shore and would take an age to get underway). That means the Syrians have a 2 to 1 advantage. Add to that the fact that Syrian planes don't have to fly a distance, have a much longer loiter time, and have the tactical advantage of home terrain and the story changes quite a bit.

    The US Navy doesn't have massive airpower reserves simply because it's too expensive. There is a reserve wing in California which could be brought into play if there was deckspace, but now we are starting to talk casualties. The only way space for wing could be created was if a lot of US aircraft had gone down.

    Which ally within strike distance is going to allow US aircraft to use bases? Turkey? Israel? Saudi Arabia? All these are unlikely for glaring political reasons. Qatar is too far as is Baharain. That's about it.

    The reason the Joint Chiefs and the UK MOD (before the vote) were so anti the strike option wasn't because they were instant peaceniks, it was because tactically it was really bloody hard verging on impossible. I'd be surprised if Obama hasn't had this driven home rather forcefully in recent weeks.

    Happily, with Kerry's blunder and Russia's swoop on that blunder we may never find out.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Happily, with Kerry’s blunder and Russia’s swoop on that blunder

    "Bre'r Putin, please don't throw us in that diplomacy patch..."
    - is how they'll be selling that happenstance, after the fact, I'm sure...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    No, that was the land assault that did that. Saddam survived the cruise attacks in 2003 reasonably intact

    If you call having no air force, no tanks, totally immobilized and confined to hiding under a civilian blanket "reasonably intact". The ground assault was supported by all of these facts, to a massive degree, such that a country the size of France was completely captured with the loss of less than a thousand American soldiers. It really does matter if you have no air force.

    The only way space for wing could be created was if a lot of US aircraft had gone down.

    If they're actively fighting, they don't actually all need to be on the deck of the carrier. Since you're talking some kind of massive air battle, it could very well be worthwhile to keep the aircraft in the air continuously, refueling midair, and only landing briefly to switch tired pilots out. Pretty much any and all aircraft that the US cares to bring can get there as fast as they can fly.

    Which is, again, all rather irrelevant if they don't even lead in with jet fighters at all, but instead simply bombard and circle around collecting intel for targeting, and destroying radar capacity. Once that's gone, jets aren't going to be very effective. At that point they've achieved the objective of neutralizing the air force, especially the helicopters which are being used in the ongoing battling against rebels on the ground.

    So I don't even think a giant pitched jet-vs-jet battle is likely at all, but if it is, I think you underestimate just how much force can be brought to bear by a military the size that the US commands.

    Which ally within strike distance is going to allow US aircraft to use bases? Turkey? Israel? Saudi Arabia?

    Yes, any and all of those could probably be pressured hard enough to help. I don't even know if Israel would need much pressure, since they're already at war with Syria (according to Syria). That being so, you can also add in their military forces, if the battle turned into an outright massive air war.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    Snooper's Christmas?

    ...an outright massive air war.

    Armageddon could be a Dog Fight
    and a God Fight...
    but never a Good Fight,
    I fear.
    (is there an airbase at Tel Megiddo?)

    and let's not forget the Sandworms
    lurking beneath the desert lands...
    ...oh hang on, we're not on Arrakis,
    are we?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    From where? They have no regional land bases. They’re carrier dependent.

    They have an air force base in Incirlik in the south of Turkey, not far from the Syrian border. According to this VOA story Turkey indicated that they'd be willing to cooperate. And other bases across the middle east - Kuwait, UAE, Qatar etc, though some of those may have overflight problems with intervening countries. The various bombers can be based anywhere in the region - France, Germany etc no problem.

    But I'm still dubious that fighter capacity is really much of an issue. US would launch fighters to protect it's hardware and knock out any Syrian planes attacking, but any attack would be predicated on the intervention not getting to that point - you'd reduce their ability to respond in such a way as your first step, and not go in if you weren't confident of doing that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Yes, there's a lot of maneuvering that happens beforehand, particularly the diplomatic assault and all the sabre rattling, the demands, either with UN resolutions or just unilaterally. The PR battle aimed at convincing the world (and especially the US population) of the righteousness of an assault, mostly done through pointing out the badness of the regime, for which, of course, there will be ample evidence.

    I don't think, however, that the Democrats are actually very good at this game. Obama is not to doing them any favours, I think, since the warhawks vote Republican anyway, and it's much more likely to turn Democrat voters off. It's a very strange path he's on, I wonder how much of it is the hubris of power that you get after 6 years as the head of the most enormous military in the world.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don’t think, however, that the Democrats are actually very good at this game.

    I dunno, history would seem to suggest the Democrats are just as good at launching military action as the Republicans.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    If you go back to Vietnam, OK then. But more recently, they're more inclined to small scale stuff, whereas the Republicans launch at least one major war every time they get elected. It's their thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to BenWilson,

    It’s their thing.

    Mr Reagan would probably prefer you narrowed that down to the Bush family. Truman is miffed about missing the cut.

    As is Roosevelt.

    As is Wilson.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to "chris",

    Mr Reagan

    Granada, Libya, Iran-Contra. Alright, so he bombed like a Democrat, but he was certainly no innocent.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Agreed. Mine was a response to small scale stuff vs launching major wars.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Now that Assad has said he will destroy his chemical weapons, the next part of the tightening noose is to demand weapons inspections, which is an open card to be allowed to see all of their military installation. Even then, you can't prove a negative existence claim, so more rattling can continue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to BenWilson,

    It's going to be tricky in the middle of the civil war. Whoever goes in is going to be target for someone, and will hence need 'protection' which will open up more risk for 'fatal misunderstandings'.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    I’d like to see Mr Obama take their estimated budget for a Syrian conflict and pay the entire amount to the 1 million or so Vietnamese who are disabled or have health problems due to the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to "chris",

    I’d like to see Mr Obama take their estimated budget for a Syrian conflict and pay the entire amount to the 1 million or so Vietnamese who are disabled or have health problems due to the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange

    Yeah, but before you know it they'd have to start selling off their entire WMD inventory to pay off all the people they've hurt.

    I'm certainly not disagreeing with you, though.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    Ha, yeah Steve's had my number a while now....

    I am a pragmatist and you are an idealist.

    I've decided to embrace it.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to "chris",

    due to the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange

    and Napalm too...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Interesting, but...

    Banque de Commerciale Arabe

    First up, he needs to work on his French grammar. And it's a fairly difficult bank to find. Which I suppose may be the point...

    And now Freemasons? And the Muslim Brotherhood being a Freemason creation? And the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt having police and an army to train in the 1950s?!

    Interesting but unreliable.

    That said, I completely agree that there's a lot more going on than the Anglo-American media is telling us. The involvement of the House of Saud, for example, seems to me to be rather downplayed. And I may have been looking in the wrong places, but I've yet to see any article examining the Saudi-Iran proxy war side of things, let alone drawing the link between Syria and events in Bahrain.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I just read this, after dismissing it for just another opinion and then noting the author's name rang a bell..
    A Plea for Caution From Russia
    by Vladimir Putin

    Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

    Did somebody pray for world peace or something?.

    If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

    Please tell me this is not just some piece of political skulduggery.
    I won't hold my breath though, the trust isn't strong with this one.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    I found this an interesting read...

    ...ta for that
    adds up better than the official stories...

    Please tell me this is not just some piece of political skulduggery.

    While not saying anything out loud, it does smack of Putin's usual set up publicity ops (except he kept his shirt on this time) - perhaps a nice piece of 'political theatre' staged by US and Russia to keep the 'peeps' scared, but on side...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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