Monday, July 06, 2015

Syrian army 150k half earlier size

...More than 80,000 soldiers and other pro-regime fighters have been killed in the four-year conflict, out of a total of roughly 230,000 dead, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
    In addition to this, many Syrians – even those who support the regime – have been reluctant to show up for mandatory two-year military service, with up to 70,000 failing to enlist, the Observatory says.
    The combination of casualties, defections, and draft-dodging has seen the country’s 300,000-strong military halved in size since the conflict began in March 2011....

    Why US Human Intelligence on ISIS so bad given all the hate ISIS generates?

    Here is an article that says ISIS has abducted 1400+ children and arrested the parents that protested.
    "( Nineveh – An official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party said Sunday, that the ISIS militants kidnapped 111 children from the city of Mosul and has entered them in military and intellectual training, noting that the ISIS abducted more than 1420 children since last year in order to use them in terrorist and intelligence operations.
    Saeed Mamouzini, an official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, stated in a interview for, “The ISIS kidnapped 111 children from Mosul City and entered them in military and intellectual training,” pointing out that, “The children are aged between 10 and 15 years old.”
    He also added, “The ISIS militants has detained 78 parents of the abducted children for the opposition to the kidnapping of their children,” indicating that, “ISIS kidnapped more than 1420 since its control over Mosul and has trained them militarily and intellectually.”

    So with hundreds if not thousands of families seeing their loved ones abducted by ISIS, held hostage or brutalized, why is US human intelligence so evidently bad in Sunni Iraq? If ever a group could generate retaliation it would be ISIS.

    Perhaps ISIS has very deep popular support in Sunni Iraq.  Perhaps ISIS has utterly terrorized the population. For an occupying army the US performance at absolutely historic levels of sensitivity to the local populations and surely we had and continue to have good relations with thousands of people in areas now ISIS dominated or threatened.

    Yet even with families abducted and traumatized by ISIS, the US (at least publicly) doesn't seem to have a clue about how to take ISIS down -  Guesses on number of combatants, financial structure, organization structure (political and military), differences between Syrian and Iraqi ISIS, troop concentrations, headquarters, stolen tank locations and so on are just abysmal by every indication.

    If congressional testimony is to be believed we are left to third party sources, Jordanians, Iraqi government, Kurds, Turks all of whom have other agendas with only partially congruent interests. This is after spending a decade there.

    Perhaps it really is the case that the local Sunnis prefer the terror of ISIS to the terror and injustice of Shia gangs and corrupt Iraqi government officials. If so wouldn't that taint all human intelligence sources?  One is left to wonder why and why not.

    Consolidation of current news on implications of Turkey's possible incursion into Syria

    This is a rough aggregation of recent news on Turkey's possible incursion into Syria to create a buffer zone. Turkey is increasing its military capacity to intervene though military leaders may be dragging their feet. Domestic party politics in Turkey may encourage intervention. Turkish politicians are laying out triggering events.  NATO would be involved due to treaty commitments and there is a threat from Iran offset by secret deals with Qater, Saudi Arabia and the future of the Muslim Brotherhood in play.

    Turkish Stepping Up Military Capacity Along Syrian Border "...
    The Turkish military has deployed additional missile launchers and artillery pieces to reinforce its troops along the Syrian border, raising the likelihood of an incursion amid the media buzz of a long-debated military intervention in Syria, as senior military commanders visit the border area to inspect the readiness of forces stationed there and draw out plans for an operation.
    The commanders of troops deployed along the border will take part in a high-level meeting to hammer out all contingency plans for a possible intervention in Syria, a Turkish daily reported on Sunday.
    According to the Hürriyet newspaper, Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar and Commander of the 2nd Army Adem Huduti sent an order to attend the meeting to the commanders of armored brigades of border troops, after they conducted inspections on Turkey's border with Syria last week.
    The military will discuss which steps will be taken during a possible operation and how many troops will be deployed in Syria if the government finally gives the go-ahead. The meeting will take place this week in Ankara.
    Advanced weaponry, including missile launchers and other heavy weaponry, from Ankara were sent to the border in the southern province of Kilis on Saturday, in the latest dispatch of equipment to the region...."

    Potential Triggering Pretense- Any single group controlling border crossings or threat to Turkish security
    ..."[But] no one should have the expectation that Turkey will enter Syria tomorrow or in the near term," he said. Some media had speculated an imminent cross-border operation was being planned.
    "If anything occurred that were to threaten Turkish security, we wouldn't wait for tomorrow, we would go right in," Davutoğlu added.
    "But it's wrong to expect that Turkey would undertake such a unilateral intervention in the immediate term if there is no such risk."
    A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Ankara was uncomfortable both with the presence of hardline ISIL militants there and the prospect of Kurdish forces controlling the whole border.
    He said Turkey's link to Aleppo was of critical importance and Ankara would act if Kurdish forces took control of Jarablus, a Syrian town just west of the Euphrates River across the border from Turkey's Karkamış. ...

    Power struggle in Turkey, elections, and the politics of a security buffer zone in Syria
    Veteran diplomat and a former main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Faruk Loğoğlu said the motive behind such a cross-border operation for the AK Party is “to score what they think would be a quick victory and translate it into gains in a probable early election.”
    Speaking to Sunday's Zaman, Loğoğlu said that without the explicit consent of the Syrian government or a mandate from the UN Security Council, the attempt to create a safe zone by Turkey would be tantamount to “Turkey's occupation of its neighbor.” Loğoğlu said Turkey has already accepted more than 2 million Syrians and the argument of stemming the further flow of refugees is not credible, adding that Turkey can accommodate more if need be.
    “The argument of preventing [the formation of] a Kurdish state in the north of Syria is akin to shedding crocodile tears. It was the PYD that the AKP [AK Party] collaborated with to move the tomb of Süleyman Şah and that helped it in its fight to reclaim Kobani. So the political motive of Erdoğan and [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu for a safe zone is not what they say it is. The motive is most likely their wish to score what they think would be a quick victory and translate it into gains in a probable early election. This calculation is wrong and fraught with serious dangers,” he said.
    According to Turkish media reports in the past week, the Turkish military will not allow the PYD forces to attack in the cities of Jarablus or Idlib, where Syrian regime forces are clashing with the opposition. Such attacks would cause a huge flow of refugees toward Turkey. The military will act without waiting for an order from the government, according to a plan of action that was agreed upon by senior Turkish officials during the MGK meeting earlier this week, the reports said.
    WINEP's Çağaptay said Erdoğan could cast a speedy Turkish takeover of Syrian territory as a victory for his AK Party and this would help the party if Turkey is forced to undergo early elections. Should the coalition negotiations fail to produce a government with a vote of confidence, new elections will have to be held, Çağaptay pointed out.
    “In that scenario, a Turkish incursion in Syria would cost the AKP further Kurdish support at the ballot box. At the same time, however, such a ‘victory operation' would bring in conservative voters from the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party], with Erdoğan no doubt hoping that this surge in support would help the AKP win an outright majority,” said Çağaptay...."

    Other International Considerations in a Move on Syria by Turkey

     ... "Çandar said Turkey is a member of NATO and the Turkish military cannot enter into another country just because President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants it without NATO's approval or support. He stressed that entering into Syria will mean opening a front against Kurds in Syria and this front will not be limited to covering a small corridor but may expand from Kobani all the way into Turkey....'

    Secret Deals with Qater and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Assad

    "...Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar had made a secret deal to remove embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from power in 2012, the founder of online whistleblower WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has claimed.
    Speaking to Russian TV channel Russia-1 on Sunday, Assange said a secret agreement was made between Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 2012 to topple Assad. He added that the United States, Britain and France offered indirect support to the deal...."

    Threat to Turkey from Iran

    "In the latest revelation of the Saudi cables released by WikiLeaks, Iran threatened to hit Turkey if any of the air bases in Turkish territory are used to strike Bashar al-Assad's Syria.
    A Saudi cable sent from the Saudi Embassy in Tehran to the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia reveals the bellicose rhetoric in Tehran against Ankara, which was accused by Iran of abetting the uprising in Syria.
    According to the cable, parts of which appeared in the Turkish media, the Iranian press launched a propaganda campaign against the Turkish government led by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for allegedly adopting pro-Israel and American policies in its foreign policy.
    Iran worked hard, to no avail, to convince Ankara to change its course and stop backing the Syrian opposition seeking a regime change in Syria.
    An Iranian delegation sent by Tehran to Ankara threatened their Turkish counterparts that Turkey will become a target of Iranian missiles if any Turkish air base is used by Western powers to strike Syria...."

    Friday, July 03, 2015

    Could India's Military Really Crush Pakistan? - The National Interest

    ... The Indian government has demonstrated an increased willingness to use force in an environment where headline grabbing increases in the Indian defense budget and a high-profile military modernization program are already alarming observers who worry that this could undermine the conventional military balance maintaining South Asia’s “ugly stability.” While on their face these concerns have validity, upon deeper examination, it is clear that, modernizing or not, the Indian military is capable of bringing far less force to bear in a limited conflict with Pakistan than most people realize. As a result, it is unlikely that Indian policymakers would conclude that they can either achieve strategic surprise against Pakistan necessary for a successful ground incursion or carry out highly-effective air strikes with little escalatory risk, each of which is a necessary condition for military operations to be authorized. Consequently, claims that India’s growing military power justifies Pakistan’s pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons, lack a firm foundation. South Asia remains an unstable region of the world, but the Indian military is not a source of that instability.

    -bth: This is actually a very interesting article about the military balance between Pakistan and India.  It is worth a full read.

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015

    Test Pilot Admits the F-35 Can’t Dogfight - War is Boring

    Here is a link to a 5 page report accessed by War is Boring which essentially says the F35 can't survive close air combat.

    "...In the end, the F-35 — the only new fighter jet that America and most of its allies are developing — is demonstrably inferior in a dogfight with the F-16, which the U.S. Air Force first acquired in the late 1970s.
    The test pilot explained that he has also flown 1980s-vintage F-15E fighter-bombers and found the F-35 to be “substantially inferior” to the older plane when it comes to managing energy in a close battle."

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015

    Turkey to take 'necessary measures' on border security: PM Davutoglu - Reuters

    Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey was prepared for all necessary measures to tackle security threats along its borders, highlighting Ankara's growing anxiety about conflict near its southern frontier in Syria.
    The National Security Council, chaired by President Tayyip Erdogan, expressed concern about a threat of "terrorism" from the Syrian border as local media reported Ankara was considering military steps to counter security risks from Syria.
    A statement from the council following its meeting also said Turkey was worried about demographic changes in the region, in an apparent reference to the displacement of Arab and Turkmen Syrians following fighting in recent weeks....

    -bth: it will be interesting to see what happens here.  If both Jordan and Turkey start pressing down into Syria.  Kurds are definitely not going to like this as Turkey sat on the sidelines while Turkish ally ISIL went to town at Kurdish expense and now that the Kurds have begun to take back territory and especially trucking routes IS used to smuggle good back and forth to Turkey, the Turks are threatening to intervene.

    Report: Jordan will set up buffer zone inside Syria - al Jazeera

    According to the Financial Times, which reported the plan on Monday, Jordan intends to carve a buffer zone into a vast area that stretches across the contested southern provinces of Deraa and Suwayda, right up along Jordan’s northern border. The zone would apparently include the city of Deraa, where a pivotal battle has been playing out in recent weeks between the government of Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces, and could include a "militarized zone" to separate the buffer area from government forces....

    -bth: more troubling will be whether Turkey moved to crush growing territorial gains by the Kurds.

    Saturday, June 27, 2015

    Oxford Nanopore

    Erdoğan says Turkey not to allow Kurdish state in northern Syria - Today's Zaman

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his country will not allow the establishment of an independent state in northern Syria, once again voicing Turkey's concerns of a Kurdish autonomous region being formed in the void left by Islamic of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the region.
    “I am appealing to the whole world. We will never allow the establishment of a state in Syria’s north and our south. We will continue our fight in this regard no matter what it costs. They want to complete the operation to change the demographic structure of the region. We will not turn a blind eye to this,” Erdoğan said during a fast-breaking dinner hosted by Kızılay (Turkish Red Crescent) on Friday....

    -bth: I don't think Erdogan could be clearer on the matter.

    GAO Rejects Air Force Arguments to Retire A-10 Warthog Fleet -

    The long-range plans of the Air Force and the Pentagon to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt took another hit Thursday from a non-partisan government report questioning Air Force projections on the savings from mothballing the fleet.
    The Air Force estimate of $4.2 billion in savings over five years was unreliable and "may overstate or -understate the actual figure," the Government Accountability Office said in a preliminary report to Congress on the decision to retire the fleet.
    Air Force leaders have said the service must retire the A-10 due to budget cuts in order to pay for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has told Congress the A-10 is not flexible enough and the service can depend on a mix of other aircraft like the B-1, F-16 and F-15 to fulfill the close air support mission.....

    -bth: This was a pretty calculated attempt by the Air Force to force congress to increase its budget to save the popular and necessary A-10. The thought that a B-1 could substitute for an A-10 is just insulting to Congress. Sadly PFCs and Lance Corporals die over issues like this and the Air Force could care less.