The GRU and Turkish MI -The ties that bind …


Attack Pilot Major Roman Filipov (RuAF) has been posthumously awarded the  "Hero of the Russian Federation" decoration.  Filipov was shot down near Saraqib while flying a ground attack mission against jihadi fighters massing to counter-attack SAA spearheads west of Abu Duhur town.  Filipov ejected from his aircraft and then fought it out with the jihadis on the ground until they gotthe better of him.  IMO opinion he richly deserved the aw ard.

The Russian expeditionary force needs to improve its Search and Rescue service so that more Russian air crew are not left to die alone in enemy hands.  US practice is such that a rescue package would have been standing by in the air with gunships and extraction birds waiting, waiting.

Saraqib is not in Turkish Armed Forces hands, but they clearly have men on the ground in the area and in liaison with the jihadis.  In that context, the GRU (Russian military intelligence) or lower level Russian MI were able to obtain the cooperation of the Turks in recovering Major Filipov's body.  People who exist outside the world of soldiering and its military intelligence function do not generally understand the level of collegiality that exists in that world.  That collegiality often extends across political boundaries and the momentary whims of politicians.  was Erdogan consulted?   Certainly, but the retrieval of Filipov's body speaks of more than that.  pl

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68 Responses to The GRU and Turkish MI -The ties that bind …

  1. JohnB says:

    The Russian search and rescue efforts do need improving.
    When I heard the news it reminded me of the film the The Bridges at Toko Ri. With William Holden as the downed pilot holding on until his ammo ran out.

  2. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:

    Or better they should get some CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) capability.

  3. b says:

    MIT is practically running the “moderate rebels” as well as al-Qaeda in Syria.
    This – related – is quite revealing:
    The Story Behind the Rise of Turkey’s Ulema
    Having learned of the planned coup during a dinner with intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and Moaz al Khatib (a leading member of the Syrian opposition and ulema), then Diyanet chief Mehmet Görmez (2010–July 2017) [3] rallied the body’s 112,725—strong religious corps, including the imams of some 82,381 mosques controlled by the body.

    The Diyanet has been active in Syria, revealed by the former chief’s meeting on the evening of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt with Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib—the same individual who caused controversy in 2012 by calling on the United States to reconsider its decision to list Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation. [20] Al-Khatib is also the former president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, former imam of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, and a member of the League of the Ulema of Sham (Rabitat Ulama al-Sham, established in 2012 by opposition ulema from Damascus and Homs, and member of the umbrella group, the Syrian Islamic Council, Al-Majlis al-Islami al-Suri), which is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood. [21]
    I wonder how long Russia is willing to play with Turkey which is cheating on any deal at every corner. What is Putin trying to achieve?

  4. Barbara Ann says:

    Filipov has set a very high bar for the conduct of personnel who are not fortunate enough to benefit from such rescue services. His conspicuously heroic act is all the more inspirational given its juxtaposition with the mundane anti-heroic sacrifice of his enemies. Their sacrifice is only possible after indoctrination into a belief system which glories in death and inverts the natural celebration of all that life is. Filipov doubtless chose to act despite his love of this world. The astonishing bravery in doing so bears no comparison with the willing suicides of those that show such disdain for it.

  5. FB Ali says:

    Roman Filipov was a brave soldier, a model for all patriots who fight (and sometimes) give their lives for their country.
    Such soldiers don’t die. They live on, as does Roman Filipov!

  6. plantman says:

    Major Roman Filipov is a hero and an inspiration.
    Thanks for this post.
    Can anyone point me to a link that explains whether Turkey is winning or losing in its attack on Afrin?
    I can’t find anything anywhere and yet, the Turks first started bombing on Jan 19, so this thing has been going on for 3 weeks.
    Afrin isn’t that far from the Turkish border, and Turkey has a huge army.
    Are they bogged down? Is the YPG winning?

  7. SmoothieX12 says:

    I wonder how long Russia is willing to play with Turkey which is cheating on any deal at every corner. What is Putin trying to achieve?
    Caucasus. Turkey does have leverage there. In fact, Turkey can blow Caucasus up if she really wishes to. This is a very serious issue for Russia.

  8. Terry says:

    When the Turkish army first intervened in Syria they entered Jarabulus in August of 2016. It wasn’t until late February 2017 when they took al-Bab. It took quite a while but they keep working away at it.
    In the Afrin campaign the weather was quite bad so it slowed the start and I’ve seen stated that much of the Turkish army is conscripts and they want to keep casualties low to maintain popular support. The Turks are also looking for long term support of the local population so for example in al-Bab they compensated families that lost lives or property. Now in al-Bab the schools are teaching Turkish. A major rebuilding is taking place in the Jarabulus/al-Bab/a-zaz triangle. Erdogan has said he intends to move/encourage Syrian refugees to settle in these areas of Syria.

  9. Bandolero says:

    While I agree that Russia improving Search and Rescue services is a good idea I don’t think that would have make any difference in the case of Roman Filipov.
    Roman Filipov flew low over an area saturated with undisciplined insurgents hell bent on quickly killing any enemy they get in their hands. Flying low meant he could not even steer his parachute to get away some miles from that high concentration of insurgents after his aircraft was hit. I doubt even the very best Search and Rescue services could have helped him successfully escape from that area where he landed. I think it was like being shot down and landing in the yard of a major enemy base.
    Imho, the only way to avoid such a situation is not flying so low with manned aircraft. That’s what the RuAF is said to be doing now – they fly higher. Of course, Filipov had a reason to fly low. The weather was at least partly cloudy, so flying above clouds he could not see the enemy forces to fight them. So, the only way I see to avoid that is using UAV to fly low when it’s needed to see the enemy. Of course, UAVs may well be shot down by enemy fire, and the material loss may hurt, too, but at least there would be no human loss in such a case.

  10. Annem says:

    There are two other scenarios that have been in the media about Filipov’s death. The first, which appears to be verified by the jihadi video, is that he was caught alive and “executed.” The second is that he committed suicide rather than find his way into the hands of the head-choppers.
    As for Russia and Turkey, I don’t think the latter would dare do much to Russia having burned most of its bridges with the West and placing its hopes in the massive Eurasian trade scheme launched by China. If Turkey becomes a “problem child,” the trains and roads could just wiz right past.
    Turkey has as yet not worked itself sufficiently into Russia’s good graces to have had the last of the ban lifted for its agricultural goods entering the Russian market. That is what happened to Turkey as a result of the loss of the life of another Russian pilot some years ago.

  11. b says:

    Turkey has as much leverage on the Caucasus just as it thought it had with Crimean Tatars. Yes, it can create some local trouble, but that is not strategic leverage.

  12. Jony Kanuck says:

    Maj. Filipov’s body has been returned to Russia. My Russian friends knew last night! Yesterday’s speculation that I read this morning has the ‘hit’ being done by the Turks. Or maybe someone else did it to make it look like the Turks did it…
    I read last night that the Turks have stopped flying missions over Afrin. Either that is Syrian air defense being brought up into Idlib or more likely Russia telling Turkey to back off on the air raids. Without air support I don’t think the Turks & their pet jihadis can make big inroads. Also a couple thou YPJ came over from western Rojava last night.

  13. JPB says:

    NATO also. He wants to break Turkey away from NATO. Assad and Rouhani don’t want to go along with that. So Putin is walking a tightrope trying to keep Turkey on the same side as Syria, Iran, & Hezbollah.
    Sooner or later Erdogan is going to have to give up Syrian land it has taken. If he digs in his heels many would like to see him lose Hatay Province. The Syrians still have a full plate of acrimony that Turkey annexed it in 1939, even though had Ataturk signed the Treaty of Lausanne confirming that it belonged to Syria. At least one Syrian Alawite militia, the ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Iskandarun’ has been carrying out raids and bombings on Reyhanli and other towns in Hatay. Their leader Mihrac Ural was recently in Sochi to the great displeasure of MIT.
    There is suspicion that this same group is responsible for attacks in Reyhanli Turkey last week, but officially Erdogan is blaming those bombings on the Afrin Kurds.

  14. scott s. says:

    Sorry for some OT, but on the subject of heroism, we have the 50th anniversary of heroic actions:
    Sgt Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez USMC
    “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as platoon commander, 3d Platoon, Company A. On 31 January 1968, during the initial phase of Operation Hue City, Sgt. Gonzalez’ unit was formed as a reaction force and deployed to Hue to relieve the pressure on the beleaguered city. While moving by truck convoy along Route No. 1, near the village of Lang Van Lrong, the Marines received a heavy volume of enemy fire. Sgt. Gonzalez aggressively maneuvered the Marines in his platoon, and directed their fire until the area was cleared of snipers. Immediately after crossing a river south of Hue, the column was again hit by intense enemy fire. One of the Marines on top of a tank was wounded and fell to the ground in an exposed position. With complete disregard for his safety, Sgt. Gonzalez ran through the fire-swept area to the assistance of his injured comrade. He lifted him up and though receiving fragmentation wounds during the rescue, he carried the wounded Marine to a covered position for treatment. Due to the increased volume and accuracy of enemy fire from a fortified machine gun bunker on the side of the road, the company was temporarily halted. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sgt. Gonzalez exposed himself to the enemy fire and moved his platoon along the east side of a bordering rice paddy to a dike directly across from the bunker. Though fully aware of the danger involved, he moved to the fire-swept road and destroyed the hostile position with hand grenades. Although seriously wounded again on 3 February, he steadfastly refused medical treatment and continued to supervise his men and lead the attack. On 4 February, the enemy had again pinned the company down, inflicting heavy casualties with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Sgt. Gonzalez, utilizing a number of light antitank assault weapons, fearlessly moved from position to position firing numerous rounds at the heavily fortified enemy emplacements. He successfully knocked out a rocket position and suppressed much of the enemy fire before falling mortally wounded. The heroism, courage, and dynamic leadership displayed by Sgt. Gonzalez reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
    During the same action in the battle for Hue City, GySgt James L. Canley USMC received the Navy Cross for his actions. The application to upgrade his award to the MOH is awaiting Pres Trump’s approval.
    “The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Gunnery Sergeant James L. Canley (MCSN: 1455946), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant of Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, during operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from 31 January to 6 February 1968. On 31 January, when his company came under a heavy volume of enemy fire near the city of Hue, Gunnery Sergeant Canley rushed across the fire-swept terrain and carried several wounded Marines to safety. Later, with the company commander seriously wounded, Gunnery Sergeant Canley assumed command and immediately reorganized his scattered Marines, moving from one group to another to advise and encourage his men. Although sustaining shrapnel wounds during this period, he nonetheless established a base of fire which subsequently allowed the company to break through the enemy strongpoint. Retaining command of the company for the following three days, Gunnery Sergeant Canley on 4 February led his men into an enemy-occupied building in Hue. Despite fierce enemy resistance, he succeeded in gaining a position immediately above the enemy strongpoint and dropped a large satchel charge into the position, personally accounting for numerous enemy killed, and forcing the others to vacate the building. On 6 February, when his unit sustained numerous casualties while attempting to capture a government building, Gunnery Sergeant Canley lent words of encouragement to his men and exhorted them to greater efforts as they drove the enemy from its fortified emplacement. Although wounded once again during this action, on two occasions he leaped a wall in full view of the enemy, picked up casualties, and carried them to covered positions. By his dynamic leadership, courage, and selfless dedication, Gunnery Sergeant Canley contributed greatly to the accomplishment of his company’s mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.”

  15. When the end became inevitable, Major Filipov went out on his own terms with a grenade. He took as many jihadis out with him as he could. I can identify with that. My relatives who survived their time in the Lithuanian Freedom Army told me it was common practice for their forest brothers to do the same when faced with capture.
    Plantman, in my opinion the Turks and the FSA are bogged down. With the arrival of more YPG/YPJ reinforcements and the denial of Turkish overflight by the SAA and the Russians, I doubt the Turks will make anymore meaningful progress. They never made a full on attack, relying on the FSA for the bulk of their fighting and I doubt they will go all in at this stage of the fight. They still have plenty of artillery, but I have a feeling SAA counter-battery fire may start making itself felt.

  16. Den Lille Abe says:

    Major Roman Filipov apparently chose the quick way out instead of the of being burned alive. Or having his head sawed of and his liver eaten.
    Sigh! Civilisation is indeed a thin veneer, barbarism and atrocities are nothing new in warfare, but it seems to me it has soared to new heights.
    May Major Roman Filipov rest in peace.

  17. elaine says:

    Colonel & all,
    Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any “level of collegiality” in returning
    the sexually mutilated bodies of YPJ woman to their bereaved families. NATO seems incapable of exercising any restraint on the Turks & their jihadists cronies.

  18. turcopolier says:

    I know the Turkish army well. The jihadis did that. pl

  19. turcopolier says:

    Only a civilian would think that significant. pl

  20. turcopolier says:

    Den Lille Abe
    “Always save the last round for yourself.” Old US Army tradition when fighting savages. pl

  21. SmoothieX12 says:

    Yes, it can create some local trouble, but that is not strategic leverage.
    It is, once one remembers Nagorny Karabakh. Moscow doesn’t need war there, Turkey may help to start it.

  22. JohnsonR says:

    And a pretty old British Army tradition in similar circumstances, to judge from Kipling’s famous concluding verse to “The Young British Soldier”.
    Though I’ve handled a Martini-Henry, and I imagine it would be quite tricky to blow your own brains out with it if you are already wounded.

  23. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    1-re: ‘Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Iskandarun’ Can you post any documentation about Ural being the leader of this group?
    2-According to your own link, Ural is the leader of People’s Liberation Party-Front (THKP-C), a Marxist-communist organization. ( Do you think “Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Iskandarun” is an affiliate of THKP-C? Any documentation?
    3-Hatay joined Turkey after a referendum. Turkish forces did not enter Hatay until after the referendum. Thus, the sequence of events is slightly different than the Crimean referendum. Why did you omit mentioning this fact?
    4- re: “There is suspicion that this same group is responsible for attacks in Reyhanli Turkey last week”.
    Any verifiable sources for this “suspicion” of yours ore are you making this up as well?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  24. elaine says:

    scott, Total respect & awe for the GySgts & Sgt your post referenced,
    however I’m curious why no mention of any above the call of duty bravery
    to any ranks above or below Sgt? Are the gentlemen you named new in receiving honors?

  25. Annem says:

    The transfer of Hatay to the Republic of Turkey was not so straightforward. It had been a part of the province of Aleppo in Ottoman times nad came under the French mandate at the end of WWI. In 1936, only 39% of the population was ethnic Turkish. Arabs, to include the largest group of Arabs, the Alawites, Christians, and Sunnis made up the overwhelming majority of the population, nearly 50%. Certainly, the 11% that were Armenian, survivors of the genocide who had returned to their homes under the French, did not want what was then the “Republic of Hatay” to revert back to Turkish control.
    In advance of the referendum, the Turks brought in tens of thousands of Turks and provided them with Hatay citizenship, with which they voted. The French were fully aware of this but they had no intention to buck the Turks and so it became part of Turkey. This meant that the Armenians and the others Christians who had been disenfranchised per the Treaty of Lausanne had no place in the Turkish Republic and were also fearful for their lives. Those who could, managed to sell their property to fellow Alawite citizens and moved south into Syria. Many Muslim Arabs fled as well not wishing to live under the Turks, preferring to be in Arab-majority Syria. I believe that today, the majority of the Arabs in Hatay are Alawite.

  26. confusedponderer says:

    re: “Turkey has as much leverage on the Caucasus just as it thought it had with Crimean Tatars. Yes, it can create some local trouble, but that is not strategic leverage.
    I feel that Putin made some points rather clear to Erdogan. Whatever one may or may not think about Putin is not the point.
    What is a point is that Putin is a guy who you sucker just once, and that the second time he will see it at best as as careless, and the third time hat he’ll clearly see it as intentional and deliberate and that then there will be a price to pay.
    Russians observe, have memory, take measures and they think. An example:
    Russians saw the US playing with the Tomahawk for thirty years, firing a couple thousands against Iraq. When that silver bullet was tried against Syria they were made fail to a considerable degree.
    Why? Well, my feeling is that while the US fired a couple thousand Tomahawks against several states for decades, Russia observed, analysed and learned – on air defence and ECM. The Tomahawk was after all a weapon pointed at their head also.
    Putin once said something along the line that forgiveness is a thing between nasty folks and God and that it is his job to arrange the meeting.
    A grim and sober thing to say, but IMO seriously meant. It isn’t just the shooting down of the aircraft by Turkey. The murder of the russian ambassador to Turkey isn’t forgotten or forgiven either.
    Putin must have made that rather clear. It speaks for itself that Turkey sent intel and military folks to Moscow to ask for permission before playing the olive branch game in Syria.
    If Erdogan went to do silly things with Turcomans and/or jihadis in the Caucasus or even along the silk road I have the hunch that a lot of Turkish policy players, preachers, actors or agents will disappear and/or die. Maybe Allah will forgive such nasty people, but neither Russia nor China will.

  27. JPB says:

    Don’t shoot the messenger. Mihrac Ural as I understand it is the leader of what is now called “The Syrian Resistance”. They were formerly called the “Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Iskandarun”, or at one time were called the “Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Alexandretta”. Google it! His organization claims to be Marxist Leninist in ideology. But Ural also claims to be a defender of Alawites. He is allied with Assad’s SAA and also the DHKP-C, a Marxist-Leninist group in Turkey.
    The TKHP-C in the almasdarnews article I linked to was the Turkish claim. Maybe Turkish MIT got it wrong. Or perhaps they got it right and TKHP-C is related to both DHKP and Ural’s organization. For all I know all three could be linked with the TKIP or MLKP or MKP or whoever? Or perhaps Ural is also linked up with the Turkish Hizbullah.
    I was not aware of a referendum. But have looked it up since:
    You realize that every map of Syria produced in Syria still shows Hatay as being part of Syria. But an occupied part just like they also show the Golan occupied by the Izzies. I still want to know if Erdogan is ever going to let go of the Euphrates Shield enclave he occupied in northern Aleppo Province, or the Idlib lands he has occupied?

  28. In fact I don’t believe it is off topic. Whatever sinister machinations we suspect the Russians of getting up to in Syria, or whatever sinister machinations they suspect us of, there can be no doubt that the Russians are doing a better job of pacification than we are. I’d go further and say that it’s been clear for some time now that they’ve been putting out fires we lit.
    The courage of such as Filipov or Prokhorenko is humbling. As has been pointed out above we had our heroes too. We still do. Most of our fighting now is by proxy but we do send soldiers out there. But can anyone look at the tragedy we have made and will make of so many lives in Syria and say that our Filipovs and our Prokhorenkos die for good reason?

  29. confusedponderer says:

    TTG, re. syrian and russian artillery:
    I recall reading of the reportedly pretty able General ‘Giftzwerg’ Gotthard Heinrici (reportedly he was very good in defence) who served on the east front during WW-II.
    He was accused by some folks for doing things like ordering his soldiers to seek shelter when being shot at, especially by artillery, or to withdraw when overwhelmed. On the other hand, he still had soldiers left on the end of the day. Then there is another story on the man:
    After ordering his troops to withdraw from the Oder line where they faced superior soviet troops, he iirc met field marshal Keitel on the road to Berlin. Keitel didn’t like to see him withdrawing and yelled, accused him of treason and stuff like that.
    At that time, so the story goes on, a company of heavily armed soldiers appeared from the woods and asked the field marshal if he had a problem or needed help. Keitel suddenly and spontaneously decided he didn’t need help and ran to Berlin. So Heinrici survived.
    Who ordered these soldiers to protect Heinrici from folks like Keitel is unknown to me, but if so, it speaks for itself.

  30. nard says:

    He landed in the midst of many enemy combatants. His wing man circled as long as possible giving him fire support..almost till he ran out of fuel. The major is seen firing at advancing combatants and then blew himself up with a grenade. Watch the video!

  31. confusedponderer says:

    re. “the only way to avoid such a situation is not flying so low with manned aircraft
    Is that so? One can also, as is more widespread recently, use drones for recon. Then you can fly as low and as slow as you want or need to, and if it gets shot down that’s just “damage to property”.

  32. “3-Hatay joined Turkey after a referendum. Turkish forces did not enter Hatay until after the referendum. Thus, the sequence of events is slightly different than the Crimean referendum. Why did you omit mentioning this fact?”
    Very different indeed. If the street fighters had got into the Crimea in force there would either have been heavy fighting or the population would have experienced worse than Odessa.
    With respect, I believe we do tend to emphasise things such as naval bases, or the Kosovo precedent, or the big geo-political picture when considering the Crimea. Of course such matters are relevant but what was urgently needed at that point was to stop further killing and atrocities. NATO wasn’t going to do that. Who else could but the Russians?
    Sorry if this is off-topic.
    In fact I don’t believe it is off topic. Whatever sinister machinations we suspect the Russians of getting up to in Syria, or whatever sinister machinations they suspect us of, there can be no doubt that the Russians are doing a better job of pacification than we are. I’d go further and say that it’s been clear for some time now that they’ve been putting out fires we lit.
    The courage of a Filipov or of a Prokhorenko is humbling. As has been pointed out above we had our heroes too. We still do. Most of our fighting now is by proxy but we do send soldiers out there. But can anyone look at the tragedy we have made of so many lives in Syria and say that our Filipovs and our Prokhorenkos die for good reason?

  33. SmoothieX12 says:

    If Erdogan went to do silly things with Turcomans and/or jihadis in the Caucasus or even along the silk road I have the hunch that a lot of Turkish policy players, preachers, actors or agents will disappear and/or die. Maybe Allah will forgive such nasty people, but neither Russia nor China will.
    1. Turkey wields a massive influence on Azerbaijan and unlike all kinds of non-state actors in Caucasus, some of whom Turkey does support, having a state being so closely ideologically and culturally allied with Turkey is a huge issue. Consider that:
    2. Erdogan if he wishes so can wreck a havoc by merely exiting Minsk Group and Turkey’s “support” of Azerbaijan was demonstrated precisely in 2016. Will he do that is totally another matter. Armenians certainly think so, and so do at least some Russian observers.
    3. If such a conflict between two states in Caucasus erupts the avalanche effect will be devastating for the whole region. There are also outstanding territorial issues between Armenians and Georgians, and then there is a host of other issues already on purely religious grounds. And then there is a n issue of Nakhichvan and list goes on and on and on… Caucasus is Balkans 2.0. In the end, the collapse of the Soviet Union started precisely there. I know, I was there.

  34. kooshy says:

    Turkey has influence in Azerbaijan, but that is mostly due to Azerbaijan and Armenia’ territorial disputes, Turkey supports Azerbaijan> Azaris are almost all Shia, and Not Sunni like Turkey, language is not all that similar Azaris cannot easily understand “what they call Istanbuly” Turkish, Azeris are Iranian and culturally part of Norooz people even the food is different, Azaries are all Chelo Kabab, Tabriz Dolmeh and not Mezeh and Doner Kebab. Turkish food is very delicious too, but IMO more of mediterranean style.

  35. SmoothieX12 says:

    Ask yourself a question with whom Azerbaijan has closer relations despite being anchored ethnically and religiously in Iran. Yet, it is with Turkey that “One nation, two states” and “Two nations, one armed forces” concept was adopted by Azerbaijan.
    In Caspian Sea, moreover, Iran viewed by Baku as a competition and relations between two are rather not-even.

  36. plantman says:

    Thanks Twisted Genius—
    You say: in my opinion the Turks and the FSA are bogged down. With the arrival of more YPG/YPJ reinforcements and the denial of Turkish overflight by the SAA and the Russians, I doubt the Turks will make anymore meaningful progress.”
    I know that Erdogan gutted the military after the coup and lost many competent officers.
    BUT I don’t see how he can afford to lose and be the laughingstock of the middle east.
    Won’t he HAVE to take Afrin to save face?
    and if he doesn’t, he knows Tillerson and Mattis will just brush him aside like a child.
    Erdogan cannot afford to lose (it seems to me)
    But I could be wrong.

  37. plantman,
    Erdogan doesn’t have to win on the battlefield. He just has to spin it his way. If the R+6 is more interested in letting Erdogan save face than publicly humiliating him, Erdogan can spin this any way he wants.

  38. JPB says:

    TTG –
    Turkish Army is bringing in more artillery. Additional US made M110 8-inch howitzers have been seen being trucked to the Afrin borders. A few have been there for a week, now they are sending more. Its an old system, we had them in Nam in the 1960s. The Turks were supposed to phase them out in favor of Turkish built 155s. But they pack a big punch.
    SAA counter-battery would be effective against guns in Idlib or in the EP enclave. But would they fire into Turkey?

  39. Kooshy says:

    I didn’t mean or said Azerbaijan was politically or government to government closer to Iran, I only said Azaries are culturally Iranian and obviously closer to Iran. Actually politically and economically Armenistan is closer to Iranian government. Azarbijan’ Aliyev government for her own security reasons is naturally closer to American side, including Turkey , Israel and various Sunni client states of US, which all in all, is a difficult position to hold for a Shia sate.

  40. SAC Brat says:

    Dumb question time.
    How long do the batteries last in small anti-aircraft missile systems? How much maintenance do they need to stay serviceable? Would answers to these two questions help in figuring out where the missile came from?
    I hope Russia improves it Search and Rescue operations. I have met several US pilots who were shot down in Vietnam that were picked up. In the Martin Caidin book “Zero” Masatake Okumiya, an Imperial Japanese Navy Air Staff Officer, was impressed and jealous of the US search and rescue operations for both morale and operational advantages.

  41. Barbara Ann says:

    The Afrin op appears to have been primarily a PR campaign for Erdogan. He could stop now saying an appropriate quota of terrorists has been killed & simply declare victory. Better still he will keep the pressure on until he extracts some kind of vote-winning concession from the US (Gülen?). Once the polls look good enough a snap election & hey presto. In this aim, what he almost certainly can’t afford to do is ‘win’ – i.e. take & hold all of Afrin, especially given those recently arrived Kurdish reinforcements.
    BTW thought it may be of interest to all that sources in Israel are reporting KSA has allowed overflight of commercial aircraft to Tel Aviv for the first time; Air India from New Delhi. El Al are asking for similar treatment, as their flights route south of the Arabian peninsula and are currently 2 hrs longer than the direct route. They will thus immediately be rendered non-commercial. The prospect of the Israeli carrier overflying Saudi airspace is intriguing.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree with your assessment.
    At one time, before say 1865, Turks in the historical areas of Aran and Nakhchevan identified with Iran – not any longer, in my opinion.
    They have imbibed all that Pan Turkic nonsense and at the official level, the discourse is modeled after a country such as France; Ethnic Nationalism, anti-Clericalism of the Enlightenment as well as an admixture of Persian Legends – identifying themselves with the Turanians of yore – all the while suppressing Taleshi and other Iranic peoples.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There are very strong anti-Iran currents around her – both within and without the Seljuk boundary.
    While among the Europeans, East or West of the Diocletian Line, there has been a consensus around the centrality of France to the European Civilization, an analogous one regarding the role of Iran no longer exists.

  44. Jony Kanuck says:

    On the subject of the TSK (Turkish Army)taking Afrim: The TSK is big, well equipped & experienced. The TSK can take Afrim (and wreck it)but the Kurds will be defending their homes. TSK casualties would be significant & caustic to Erdo’s Presidential campaign. My guess would be that Erdo’s trying to figure out if he can get Manbij without fighting Americans. That would give him a victory to ride into the election.

  45. turcopolier says:

    Jony Kanuck
    The Turkish Army has fought no one since the Korean War. they are NOT experienced. They participated in some COIN ops against PKK but actually the Jendarma field force did most of that.
    They could probably take Afrin City but would regret it. pl

  46. JPB,
    I remember seeing the effect of 8-inch guns during firepower demonstrations at Fort Bragg. Those guns were know for their accuracy, but they still took out a grid square at a time.
    I doubt the SAA would fire into Turkish territory even though the SAA’s Russian artillery generally outranges Turkish artillery. However, more discreet drone strikes or “commando” strikes that look like PKK hits might be more likely. I still doubt even that would be tried. The precedent of striking into Turkey would be too much.

  47. turcopolier says:

    We had 8 inch howitzers and 175 mm field guns in mixed corps artillery batteries in VN. The range fans were so big that from one firebase to another they often overlapped. The eight inch is more accurate but the 175 has greater range Its beaten zone is more elliptical at long range (20 odd kilometers). I often adjusted the fires of these guns and we never used the 175s to support troops in contact. In my biggest fight at Song Be in February, 1969, we fired these 8 inch into the valley of the Song Be River just down the hill from our defenses as an assault breaker. The guns were about 10 kilometers away and behind us. The rounds would come in over the town and clear our positions by not very much to thunder in down in the valley. pl

  48. JPB says:

    I recall they sounded like freight trains overhead.

  49. Barbara Ann says:

    Lt. Gen. Funk’s presence in Manbij right now suggests the US is not the pushover Erdogan may have expected. Anti-US propaganda in the press is one thing – open conflict with the US is quite another. I can’t see him trying it. Erdo’s comfort zone is in playing the superpowers off against each other. The instant he commits to hostile action in areas with US forces he loses all US leverage against Russia/SAG/Iranian plans in Syria. He’d also immediately rocket to the top of the regime change candidate rankings. Him bluff may have been called.

  50. JPB says:

    SAC Brat –
    Russian and Chinese MANPAD have a shelf life of 10 to 20 years. US Stinger and the German & Turkish versions produced under license are more like five years. France, the UK, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, and the two Koreas all have MANPAD, and I assume battery life is similar.
    But it is all macht nichts, as some techie or EE rebels in Syria have been adept at devising replacement batteries. Some of them rechargable.

  51. Jony Kanuck says:

    re: TSK; By experienced I do mean against Kurds. From what I’m seeing of TSK plans it’s heavy on artillery & elite troops. So yeah, TSK could shell it’s way into Afrin City, wrecking it, & then burn up a lot of elite troops & get lots of bad publicity. So I don’t think it will happen; Erdo needs an ‘affordable’ victory.

  52. different clue says:

    Barbara Ann,
    ( reply to comment 4)
    I had occasion once years ago to perceive and describe to someone a similar comparison.
    I can’t remember what the particular jihadi suicide attack was, but I remember someone saying that we certainly can’t doubt those jihadis’ bravery. I said yes we could. I offered the example of the Soviet fire fighters who rushed in to help contain the fire and smoke at the burning melted-down Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Assuming they believed in Soviet Socialist atheism, they knowingly accepted the certainty of certain death by radiation exposure within hours or days even though they believed they had no heaven to go to and no further turn of life to re-incarnate into. Whereas the jihadis believed they would go straight to the best heaven there is and stay there forever after a brief painless death in a super explosion. Assuming they really believed in that heaven-after-murder outcome, their action required zero bravery of any sort. They had merely done a cynical cost-benefit analysis, trading a shorter life span here on earth for living in heaven forever. Without even having to suffer any pain to get there.

  53. Christian Chuba says:

    Comparing search and rescue scenarios of Major Filipov and U.S. pilots in the South Pacific is a bit apples and oranges. I have not seen any timeline but it looks like the Russian pilot was swarmed pretty fast.
    The Russians were able to extract their first pilot that was shot down by the Turkish F16 and the other pilot was shot while he was still in the air. They even had a backup helicopter when the first one was shot down. That seemed like a pretty impressive recovery.
    It seems like we would need to know how much time there was before the bad guys reached the pilot to understand their most recent performance.

  54. Anna says:

    Curiousier and curiousier: “US claims aerial attack on Syrian ‘pro-regime’ forces”
    “The US’s Central Command (Centcom) has just released an official statement, claiming that it has conducted an aerial attack on what it terms ‘Syrian pro-regime’ forces, about eight miles east of the Euphrates river. … It is illegal to fund or control a side in a civil war, which is what the US claims it is doing.”
    —In other words, Alice in a Wonderland of the complete rejection of international law by the US. What about dignity?

  55. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    After Korea, TSK did a small op in Cyprus. Was useful. Dealing w/ the kurdish insurgency was also quite useful in evaluating some doctrines. Several types of special forces as well as CAS and tac. air were fielded. The latest smashing of the pkk build-up within civilian areas was a useful exercise as well.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  56. turcopolier says:

    Christian Chuba
    I stand by my criticism. i was referring to SEA not the Pacific War. In SEA the SAR people were very aggressive. The Skyraiders or armed helicopters would actively fight the enemy on the ground to protect a downed pilot. Perhaps he landed too close to the enemy for that to be possible but was Russian SAR immediately available? pl

  57. Pat Lang,
    An army captain just returned from VN told me “never be on the gun-target line of 175s”. I recall that he was genuinely spooked.

  58. DianaLC says:

    Thank you, PT, as usual.
    It has appeared to me, a nobody, that the British are more to be distrusted in this than the Russians. The Russians are more open about their actions in some ways than the British. I envision Putin laughing every night for getting all the credit for our turmoil when, perhaps, someone else should have it.
    The madness of King George III must be somehow rooted in many of the British genetic codes.
    Is Trump now an Oliver Cromwell? If so, I hope his takeover is more successful than Cromwell’s.
    I’m sorry for the not very good analogy. I’m just becoming more and more depressed by the behavior of our “allies” and by the seeming inability of our Congress to and our justice system to get to the bottom of things and mete out appropriate punishment.

  59. John_Frank says:

    A short time ago Минобороны России @mod_russia posted
    In Voronezh, hundreds of people said farewell to Roman Filipov, Hero of Russia fallen in #Syria. Funeral ceremony was attended by Nikolai Pankov, Deputy Defence Minister, and Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, Commander-in-Chief of Aerospace Forces

  60. turcopolier says:

    William Fitzgerald
    He was quite right. The trajectory was so flat and the ranges could be so long that a long ellipse described the possible beaten zone for impacts. if you were on the gun-target line and anywhere near the target a possible catastrophic short impact was very possible. pl

  61. JPB says:

    Syriac Christian militia from eastern Syria’s Hasakah Province have also sent fighters to Afrin. The MFS or Syriac Military Council are primarily from Hasakah province in northeastern Syria. They have been part of the SDF since its founding in October 2015, and worked with the YPG previous to that in fighting against al-Nusra and ISIS in the Tel Hamis area back in 2013. Last summer and fall the MFS was critical in liberating the Khabour River valley in Hasakah and parts of Deir ez-Zor provinces from ISIS. The Kurds got the credit, but the Syriacs did most of the heavy lifting as the Khabour Valley is much of their homeland. They also fought with the SDF in liberating the ISIS capitol city of Raqqa.
    Approximately six percent of the population in the Afrin area are Christian. The city of Afrin has several historical Syriac Aramaic churches and monasteries. It is unclear how many fighters have been sent. Only a handful are seen in the linked pic:

  62. Arioch The says:

    > I hope Russia improves it Search and Rescue operations
    We all would prefer the man survived.
    We all prefer better services to worse services.
    Still it all is easier said than done.
    PL says Rescue missions should be in the wings until pilots came home. This would probably mean that rescue crafts would get worn out pretty fast, and they would run out of fuel fast. Let’s see American air carriers, when jets are taking off or landing back – the rescue team is flying around the ship. But when the jets took off and flew away form the deck to the mission, are SAR kind of following them to close distance and minimize arrival time?
    Fillipov’s wingman was circling around giving covering fire while he could. Frankly, Syria is not that vast. That would give enough time for other teams to man their machines and take them off. If it was possible.
    25.11.2015 another Russian jet was taken down. SAR helicopter was dispatched to get him, was waited for by the enemy, was ambushed and downed too.
    Or more mundane examples, sometimes urban people call emergency medic car just to rob them of drugs, or even call police patrols to ambush and rob them of guns.
    To close it, from what was told yet, it seems RuAF had enough time to dispatch more support or extraction team, until the wingman flew home. Hence it seems RuAF had no capability to do it, either had no ready to fly crafts (doubtful) or were sure any landing SAR mission there would be ambushed and murdered by the overwhelming locally enemy.

  63. Arioch The says:

    > devising replacement batteries
    do MANPADs have them ? I recall Soviet MANPADS did not.
    instead they had liquid nitrogen flask.
    you stick it in, and it does two things, for about 2 minutes, cooling down heading radar grid and – via a small turbine – generating power for the radar and aiming automation.
    if you are not fast enough to lock in and shoot, you have to initiate and attach another flask, etc.
    cause without chilling the radar the missile could not accurately lock in anyway, be computer powered or not, so there would be just no reason for a separate long-term battery.

  64. turcopolier says:

    Arioch, The
    You obviously are a Cheap Charlie who values engine wear out and maintenance over men’s lives. We include aerial re-fueling in the SAR package. pl

  65. JPB says:

    Aeioch –
    I assume you mean cooling for the Infrared seeker, not radar.
    The early generation models SA-7, -7A, and -7B had uncooled Infrared seekers so did not need the nitrogen. The batteries were thermal giving them a long shelf life. But once activated they only gave 30 to 40 seconds of power. So untrained jihadi operators most of the time used them up before pulling the trigger. Many replacements were tried including car batteries, motorcycle batteries, and various jury-rigged systems. The best seem to be made with a series rechargeable laptop batteries.
    But you are right that the newer generation Russian SA-14 through the SA-24 require cooling which is normally done with pressurized nitrogen. But a battery is also needed. And even if they had newer models that required cooling, finding liquid nitrogen should not be a tough search. It is used in doctor’ offices and in hospitals, in the oil industry, in food storage & transport, my 13 year old granddaughter made ice cream with it in a junior high school chemistry class.

  66. “The madness of King George III must be somehow rooted in many of the British genetic codes,”
    If I recollect accurately the King’s medical attendants were loopier than he was. But once you start explaining things by genes you’re a dead man walking anyway when it comes to rational argument. Genes are just part of the mix and culture and circumstances account for the most of it.
    The KGB got up to some really nasty tricks in the cold war era. Some of our lot get up to bad stuff now. Are you accounting for this by asserting the two Intelligence Communities interbred?

  67. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    TTG, SST;
    The “bogged down” TSK has been moving incrementally, taking some hits, and capturing quite a few regions w/ very interesting “defensive” structures.
    We are wondering about the planners, designers, and the bank-rollers, of these fortifications. These contain a lot of materiel; their provenance is now being investigated.
    Ishmael Zechariah

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