Although it was always logical course of action, Russian intervention in Syria mostly designed as directed close air support for Syrian Arab Army turned out to be very successful, exceeding expectations, due to efficient Russian war machine, weapons supplies to SAA and Syrian air force but mostly due to increased morale of Assad army followed by massively increased on recruitment into national defense units that aimed to move onto liberated areas and establish law and order and perform smaller operations against remaining terrorist hold outs as well as Assad policy of unconditional general amnesty for Syrian citizen fighting against the government who want to lay arms and admit their role in the war. Citizen of other countries including Europeans are held in prisons or executed if they are found guilty of killing civilians.
One observation however that is striking if we compare US military tactics against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan in rural and urban areas versus those of Russians, informed by war in Chechnya.
While first Chechnya war under Yeltzin was a unqualified disaster, the second Chechnya war fought effectively under Putin was a success due to one fundamental and later commonly element of Russian tactics on military as well as on political front i.e. making deals with the local political, religious power centers on the ground that would constitute unified force against terrorists with total political, diplomatic, humanitarian, logistical, weapons supply and close air supports provided by Russians, a war tactics brilliantly implemented in Syria so far.
The understanding that any war is first of all war to win hearts and minds of supporters of the enemy has been a benchmark of Russian overall strategy applied extremely well in case of Syria and hence most of world public opinion if not supporting Russians at least understand the motivations of Russian intervention as likely solution to immediate humanitarian crisis of war. Something that US imperial hubris shrieks about and flatly refuses even to acknowledge.
Below I am reposting my post from mid October of last year that described possible Russian military tactics to be applied to the conflict in Syria, which later was proven to be more or less correct via actual developments on the battlefields.
(10/18/2015) SYRIAN WAR UPDATE: HOW WE FIGHT; RUSSIAN EDITION.
Whether or not below mentioned battlefield tactics, and methods are being implemented right now in the Syrian war theater I know not but considering a joint command of Russian and Syrian forces as well as long term military cooperation between those two countries it is plausible and I think it is instructive to see differences between US and Russian approach just by drawing from some historical records.
Most the Russian war doctrine and military maneuvers or tactics are coming out of German military manuals as well as many painful experiences of the WWII where Soviets made all the mistakes possible before they got their act together.
The basics principle of waging a war is to have well defined strategic, tactical and immediate objectives with no imposition of any particular solutions since those must fall directly in the prerogatives of the local field commanders who will make decisions as warranted on the ground with wide latitude of choices creating facts or illusions on the ground aimed to mostly mislead the enemy i.e. psychological warfare at the level of field commanders.
In Syria, IS terrorists’ most powerful weapon is the psychological terror and it must be met with psychological warfare weaponry on the battlefield.
This requires extensive knowledge of the battlefield area, built up relationships not only with friendly forces and local population but most of all with the enemy, making temporary cease-fire or other deals with them, offering even aid and some kind of understanding or presenting seemingly beneficial choices of withdrawal or surrender, a typical toolbox of a negotiator. The true war is more about talking and waiting then shooting. Only those who can see strait through the chaos of war can be ultimately successful.
The Syrian field commanders having in their hand a hammer of Russian air support are likely pursuing wide range of those techniques very vigorously, by calling ISIS commanders over the cell phone/radio or communicating via other ways. The field commanders grounded in the reality of battlefield are much more reasonable (especially after the air raid) than highly politicized or fanatical higher command hankered down somewhere in the bunker.
A good example of such a broad latitude given to the local commanders are various temporary deals SAA is making with terrorists including IS in Aleppo area regarding electrical power supply from the Aleppo power plant on the outskirts of the city held by IS while distribution system is held by SAA either one could cut off electricity to the other so both decided to keep it running.
IS in order to run their bomb factories and SAA to allow civilian population under IS rule to have their utilities running, water, electricity, heat etc. This is quintessential example of local deals and compromises by local commanders even for medieval barbaric thugs of IS possible to achieve as a alternative to senseless and blunt devastation.
And this type of war tactics is cowardly used as a propaganda tool by the western MSM to prove the brotherly love between Assad and IS to brain-dead western viewers.
But what’s worse is that the US is aggravated with such as deals or agreements, mad on the IS or al-Nusra for deviating from pure Wahhabi Islamist orthodoxy since it is clandestinely bombing Syrian infrastructure including Aleppo power plant under the guise of F-16 escorting military transport planes with weapons to drop on non-existing positions of illusory moderate Syrians.
In contrast, in most cases US local field commanders had often hands tied as far a contacts or negotiation with enemy field commanders and never built any meaningful relationship of trust with the enemy. And hence were devoid of finesse or cunning and instead were perceived as blunt or gullible and by that diminished enemy respect for the US military and strengthen unity of the enemy instead of weakening it by skillful negotiations or manipulations.
Another basic battlefield principle is to avoid committing to a frontal attack on fortified enemy positions even when having overwhelming advantage and power and always seeking weak points and take as much time as needed, no deadlines or photo ops since true military accomplishment is to win battle without one shot fired in contrast to US reporting number of enemy killed, territory conquered or cleared and ammunition spent that defines the progress or victory.
An hence the art of encirclement or cauldron creation massively used as a most popular Russian tactical maneuvers which are low cost and high reward military efforts including fake cauldrons aimed to forcing enemy movements into predestined areas.
Also not sharp but gradual cutoff or degradation of the command and control communications and supplies is preferred in order to use it to induce tactical movements of the enemy forces and continuing surveillance as well as on the ground intelligence operations, which are critical for achieving success. The US forces intelligence (Soviet too) operations often failed in Afghanistan due to lack of personal politically/culturally mitigated relationships (not only money) a foundation for truly effective intelligence network. With all the new technologies, field level intelligence is still irreplaceable.
But most of all Russian military doctrine calls to never wage war you want to win in the country where significant part of population is hostile and enemy undefined (Afghanistan war 1.0 and 2.0) since at the end the success of all military operations are dependent on the local population support and hence recognizing that unnecessary or mistaken deaths of civilians are not just a collateral damage but the fundamental damage to the entire war effort. That’s why British, Hindu, Soviets and Americans were ultimately defeated in Afghanistan.
The true Syrian liberation war has just begun replacing four long years of aimless and senseless stalemate and slaughter instigated and supported by the West as I wrote in:
(10/10/2015) SYRIAN WAR UPDATE: WHY RUSSIANS CAME?
LATEST SYRIAN WAR UPDATE:
South Front: Steady progress on all frontlines continues.
Fighting in East Ghouta continues:
As I reported before, Russians are willing to cooperate with certain groups of terrorist who detached themselves from al-Qaida or ISIL, signed pledge not to attack SAA and join forces against former allies. Although they are relatively small units, the fact alone spreads confusion and uncertainty among terrorist alliance and causes mistrust among themselves especilaly when under pressure from SAA. An example of element of military tactics describe above.
Another Humanitarian convoy reached Madaya. Previous supplies had been stolen by terrorists, causing some starvation of population under their control. But situation is not as dire as SOHR reports with their fake photos.
Liberation of important terrorists stronghold of Salma in Nothern Latakia, closing another strategic transportation corridor between Turkey and Syria:
Russian high ranking officers in the frontlines at Salma. Another proof of implementation of Russian war tactics.
Fighting in Daara continues:
Military operations in Allepo:
East Allepo, SAA moves toward ISIL logistic hub in Al-Bab while YPG moves at it from North East:
Russian bombing in Hama province:
and Homs province:
and in East Ghouta:
SAA under attack by al-Nusra with a guided missile.
Terrorists throw stones at the enemy.Did Saudis close the money tap?
This is what Moderate terrorists in East Ghouta do instead of feeding the population under their control.
Killed al-Qaida fighters in Yemen:
US navy sailors caught violating Iranian territorial waters
Islamic Religious police in the street of German cities.