Would counter-battery attacks in Syria or Turkey trigger NATO Article Five? -revision 1



"This map provides a general look at the recent gains by Turkish-led forces in southern Idlib. The Turkish Army and its al-Qaeda-linked allies have retaken several villages from the Syrian army and beiseged the town of Kafr Nabul, which the Syrians had recently liberated from al-Qaeda."  SF




IMO the gains made by the jihadis and the Turkish Army in Idlib Province are being made because of the masses of artillery weapons and multiple launcher rocket systems (MLRS) that the Turks were equipped with when they were a major factor in NATO plans to halt a possible Soviet attack in the Balkans and from the Caucasus.

A lot of these weapons are old but they still work well and have ranges that can influence the fighting in Syria from positions WITHIN Hatay Province, Turkey (what the Russians now call "the stolen province").   We are talking about 203 MM howitzers and 175 mm long rifles among other weapons.  I can tell you from personal experience that these are devastating weapons.

The appropriate military response to fires from such artillery and MLRS is COUNTER-BATTERY FIRE.  IOW the point of origin of the fires is determined virtually instantaneously by counter-battery radar or satellite observation (Russian) and fires are placed on the firing positions before the guns or MLRS can be moved.  This procedure would kill a lot of Turks and destroy a lot of their equipment.  IMO it would stop the present Turkish counter-offensive.  Could Fatih Sultan Tayyip politically survive such an experience?  Only Allah knows.

The NATO Treaty's Article Five provides for mutual defense against attacks from outside the alliance.  Would counter-battery fire against the Turks, if they are  firing into Syria, trigger Article Five?  I doubt that the Europeans would want to go to war against Russia to protect the sultan's ambitions.  Counter-battery fir against Turkish artillery operating INSIDE Syria would no be a political problem involving NATO.

The Turks must have moved some guns forward into Syria to support the Turco/jihadi force around Saraqib.  Some other group of heavy weapons  must be supporting the Turco/jihadi force near the northern el-Ghaab Plain.  Are they in Syria?  Maybe, but wherever they are, IMO they can be struck without fear of Article Five.

Would the Syrians then be attacked by US forces with or without Article Five?  Maybe they would be.  That would depend on the level of Pompeo's influence with the president.  pl 

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Borg Wars, Current Affairs, Middle East, Policy, Russia, Syria, weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Would counter-battery attacks in Syria or Turkey trigger NATO Article Five? -revision 1

  1. Kilo 4/11 says:

    Looky here what’s up in my old regiment:
    Cpl. Julianna Yakovac, 21 said her male counterparts had been “great teammates” and treated her well. Isn’t that nice.

  2. Walter Lang says:

    If the Turks want to displace their guns forward across the border that would be even better. But, you have to plan ahead. They are presently applying a lot of fire on the western side of the M-4 fight. Where do you think the fire support is coming from? They are not pushing the SAA back with small arms. Where do you think Turkish heavy weapons are firing from at present. The jihadis are not manning them around Saraqib.

  3. Walter Lang says:

    Charlotte Danan
    Why the name change? Article Five would require a NATO vote in Brussels.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Charlotte Danan
    Not conscious on my part. The Typepad drop down menu offers two choices for me “Walter Lang” and turcopolier.” Either works for me.

  5. Walrus says:

    Maximum ranges for the SP guns and MLRS are about 40km. If the Sultan is possibly using them to provide fire support on Kafir Nabil, then he is doing it from inside Syria and risking losing his guns to the Russian Aerospace aircraft.
    However, I don’t think even Erdogan is dumb enough to try to play shoot and scoot with the Russians. Which is why he asked Trump for Patriot Batteries.
    I guess the alleged proposal for a 30km buffer zone is related to gun range. I also guess that the Russian frigates off the coast, armed with Kalibre cruise. missiles, are also a reminder to the Sultan.

  6. different clue says:

    The EUropean leaderships would not want to go to war with Russia to advance Erdogan’s conquering ambitions in Syria. But the NeoCon(servatives) and the NeoWil(sonians) in the US want very badly for EUrope to go to war with Russia to advance
    Erdogan’s goals ( and their own goals after that).
    Could the SAA and Russian assisters destroy all the Hatay-based artillery so fast and thoroughly at one time that the Neo WilCons would not have time to engineer a NATO-Russia war in the artillery silence that would follow? How fast and furious would the SAA-Russia side have to destroy all the artillery to achieve fire-suppression without ppening an opportunity for the kind of armed response designed to engineer a NATO-Russia war?

  7. different clue says:

    @ Charlotte Danan,
    Your sometimes-changing use of English over your last few comments makes me think that the name you used to have is the name that same pack of people in Spain which our host has referenced in the past used to have.

  8. ambrit says:

    When did the Russians start to refer to Hatay Province as “The Stolen Province?” If it is of recent vintage, could this be a trial balloon for a bout of “counter regime change (provincial level?)”
    I keep wondering back to the attempted coup against Erdogan. How much is the NATO support for Turkey as separate from Erdogan? A silly question, I know, but it refers back to the quip attributed to various when the subject of a dictator came up: “He may be a son of a b—h, but he’s our son of a b—h!”

  9. plantman says:

    Putin is committed to removing the terrorists in the deescalation zone, but that means fighting Turkish troops who (supposedly) enjoy “overwhelming superiority in personnel and military hardware” on the ground in Idlib.
    What is the best way to resolve this mess?? (I have no clue)

  10. DontBelieveEitherPr says:

    Folks, the latest article by Elijah J. Magnier explains everything which happend in the last days. It is not pretty.

  11. JamesT says:

    Perhaps those with knowledge of how things work would like to comment on the likelihood that Turkey has US or Israeli advisers helping them plan their campaign? I’ve read that Egypt had “Russian advisers” imbedded in their command structure all the way down to the squad level during the 1973 war. I wonder if this could effectively turn into a US vs Russia war even if actual US boots are not on the ground, nor US pilots flying the sorties.

  12. Peter AU1 says:

    The west like to call anyone they dont like a Hitler, but Erdo, with what he has been saying even to the point of citing Hitler when trying for more presidential powers, and with his actions…
    I see Haftar’s Libya has signed some deals with Damascus. Haftar backed by Egypt and UAE. Iran, an Ally with Turkey in everything except Syria, had their headquarters deliberately attacked and destroyed.
    Selfie videos coming out of Idlib of young Turks laughing and joking with known AQ enthusiasts, victorious selfie of Turk holding up severed head.. Only way to tell the the difference between Turk army and moderate rebel in Idlib is the Turks have no chin fluff.
    Russia seems determined to try and contain Erdo gently rather than stop him with military power but is looking like, at some point in time, a fight is inevitable.

  13. J says:

    The Eisenhower Carrier strike group is now in the Med.
    According to the Russian Interfax, Russian warships are enroute to the Eastern Med, including the Frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich with their cruise missile complements.
    The Navy’s press statement last week noted that the Eisenhower was conducting 6th Fleet maritime security operations

  14. Barbara Ann says:

    With the current parlous state of the International Order (pretty much an oxymoron) the niceties of treaty terms seem to matter less than the willingness of the strong to do what they can. If Pompeo & fellow hawks want to lead (or trick) Trump into a NATO intervention in NW Syria I’d expect they will attempt to do so if TSK casualties continue to be taken (and surely they must) even if the conflict remains outside Turkey. That said, Russia is doubtless keen to avoid providing any unnecessary excuse for the Neocon crazies.
    Now that Russia has tested Erdogan’s resolve and got pushback and confirmation that he is willing to play the NATO card, Russia’s response will be very interesting to watch. We seem to be done with face-saving & golden bridges and I find it very hard to see how Russia can safeguard its interests without inflicting a military defeat on Turkey – which would surely be the end, very literally, for Erdogan.
    Hopefully Putin, Shoigu & Gerasimov are more imaginative than I. Thank God it’s an election year and Trump is risk averse in the unfamiliar field of warfare.

  15. Leith says:

    Precise targeting is the problem for TKK rockets & artillery. IMHO if you take out their eyes, such as drones and FOs, you neuter their effectiveness. Plus jam artillery comm links and spoof their GPS. I believe the Russian forces in Syria have those capabilities. So you don’t need to risk NATO or PomPom involvement by attacking their systems inside Turkish borders.
    Walrus: Turks have locally produced rockets for their MLRS with a 70 km range. I have no clue on the accuracy but they also have locally produced GPS.
    Kilo 4/11: Assuming your Cpl Julianna came up through the gun crew ranks before making section chief, how did she ever manage to tote and load 100 pound projos? Is it all automated now? I still have a bad back 52 years later from a 24-hour stint of loading shells back in 1968. I’m a mess now but back then I was broad shouldered and cockstrong.

  16. Yeah, Right says:

    Putting on my pedantic-pants for a moment, Article 5 is triggered when an “armed attack” is launched against the territory of a NATO member.
    If Russia or Syria just … decided… to launch an artillery barrage at Turkey then I have no problem defining that as an “armed attack” worthy of Article 5.
    But if the Turks were firing into Syria then that is clearly an armed attack BY Turkey AGAINST Syria, and so I would struggle to accept the notion that shooting back with counter-battery fire constitutes an “armed attack”.
    Still, the USA will act whichever way it wants, legalities be damned. But is is worth pointing out that while Article 6 goes out of its way to define the geographical limits of an “armed attack”, the phrase itself is not defined.
    It is in the eye of the beholder, apparently.

  17. turcopolier says:

    It’s not just targeting. You have to calculate elevation, deflection and then lay the guns or MLRS correctly. You thin the jihadis can do that?

  18. confusedponderer says:

    Another thing about NATOis that it is supposed to be about common DEFENSE. That got a bit lost over the Balkans and the GWOT and well before Trump habitually demanding obedience, flattering, praise, renting pricey Trump hotels and golf clubs etc pp? ‘more rent’ but … anyway.
    Just as the US, Turkey is not invited in Syria. They are there on an agressive invasion, called by them absurdly a ‘defence operation’, as if trying to save turkish supported Islamist head choppers from Syrian / Russian retaliation and termination in Syria is actually a ‘defence of Turkey’ in Turkey.
    Erdogan calling his invasion of north Syria (to beat up Kurds and weaken yet to be tortured, assassinated ‘de-regimed’ Assad) a peace zone or something is just a bitter joke.
    Erdogan’s ambitious neo osman neighbour policy is not protected by the NATO treaty or NATO goals. Turkey was needed in NATO because of the USSR. It is not and never was NATO’s job to make Erdogan happy and help him over historical traumas like the treaty of Sevres.
    That Erdogan is unhappy with that his his own problem (and of course the problem of NATO and his neighbours). US compulsive regime changery aside, it is also not in the serious interest of any other NATO partner to re-arrange the nasty consequences of Turkey being on the losing side of WW-I.
    Admittedly, it would be sort of fun to watch Erdogan trying to tell Netanyau that he wants Jerusalem back, or to MbS that he wants Saudi Arabia back. Both may get strokes.
    Or take the Greeks. They likely would want to talk with him about … Cyprus and Turkey drilling for oil and gas in what they think (and both know) is greek territory. They have open bills with Turkey on both.
    Point is, Erdogan overestimated himself and bit off more than he can chew in Syria. Erdogan is yelling for NATO help because he knows that he alone cannot counter Russia (in whose face he merrily spat).

  19. elaine says:

    Colonel, Likely the only way the jihadis could do that is if there’s a Youtube video showing how it’s done. Anyone want to check youtube?

  20. turcopolier says:

    You don’t learn “gunnery” on utube. It takes months of instruction to learn how to successfully fire artillery at target you cannot see from the guns.

  21. anon says:

    the Syrians have walked into an anvil.After watching that video here a while back showing the light infantry advancing I had the feeling that Syrian forces were not advancing but being pulled forward.Drones are also playing a big part.I could be wrong but the release of refugees by turkey is also bad news because it could be allowing anti Syrian fighters to move to Europe which could be the ultimate aim of Islamic leaders

  22. English Outsider says:

    Colonel – on the Turkish drone strikes there seem to be two reasons given for the recent damage caused by those strikes.
    The first is that the Russians and Syrian were not aware that the Turks had armed their observation drones. They were therefore taken by surprise. This will not happen again.
    The second is that the Russians did not wish to see the conflict escalate so let the drone attacks (and the artillery attacks) happen. This is interpreted by some as indicating that Russian commitment to liberating Syria is now weak.
    Has to be the first reason, surely? The Russians would lose all credibility if they went back on their commitment to assisting in liberating Syria from the Jihadis.
    I’m not impressed by Stoltenberg’s reaction to the crisis. He must know the true position in Syria. He can therefore be regarded as no more than a neocon mouthpiece

  23. moon says:

    Turkey was needed in NATO because of the USSR.
    Yes, but isn’t it curious Turkey joined in 1952 with Greece joining the same year?

  24. turcopolier says:

    Greece was threatened by the communist bloc as Turkey was. What is strange about it? The US was making a major recruitment effort for forming the alliance. In the same effort we intensified our effort to recruit France and for that reason foolishly increased our support to them in Indochina.

  25. Barbara Ann says:

    “Trump’s reaction [no Patriots for you Tayyip] came as no surprise to officials in Ankara, who believe the US president is unwilling to upset his voters by engaging in a military conflict during an election year.”
    Good for you Mr Trump.

  26. turcopolier says:

    I would vote for a surprise rather than the latter. The Turks and their fiendish pets seem to have withdrawn from Saraqib without much of a fight. I interpret that to be because of attacks on their supply line and fire support units. I am going to shut up on Syria to make room for TTG’s excellent analysis.

  27. Leith says:

    “You think the jihadis can do that?”
    No, I don’t and I never suggested it. The jihadis AFAIK have only mostly unguided rockets, badly manned artilleryy, and mortars.
    It is definitely TKK rockets & artillery firing on the SAA. But reportedly Turkish drone strikes on the SAA are much more effective than artillery & MLRS. TAF drones have continued with deadly efficiency taking out Syrian armored vehicles. Turkey has hundreds, perhaps thousands of locally made killer UAVs:

  28. JohninMK says:

    In addition to barrel and tube artillery the Turks also have ballistic missiles, one of which has a 130km range. There are videos of them recently firing from a well laid out military camp so presumably in Turkey. It seems that the target was Safira military camp/arms factory/R&D labs (chemical of course!) SE of Aleppo, but according the the drone watching the site not much damage was done i.e. they missed.

  29. Leith says:

    @Ambrit: ‘When did the Russians start to refer to Hatay Province as “The Stolen Province?” ‘
    It was just a few days ago in an article on Sputnik news. In retaliation the Turks arrested the editor and three staffers of Sputnik’s news bureau in Istanbul. I think they, or some of them, have since been released.

  30. Ghost Ship says:

    Turkish soldiers? Many of them are probably re-badged jihadists from northern Syria who have been trained and equipped by the TSK so they’ll look like real Turkish soldiers.
    As for the drones, I believe the TSK were allowed to use them for surveillance over Idlib which would have meant the SAA became used to them. Re-assigning them to artillery spotting would give the TSK a couple of days when they could cause mayhem but then they would be neutralized. FWIW, the SAA have recaptured Saraqib already. The TSK/terrorist Happy Time appears to be over.
    The TSK are claiming they’ve destroyed a couple of dozen heavy self-propelled artillery pieces. The Russian Army has about 1,200 modern ones in service and 1,400 in storage. The SAA might have a temporary shortfall but that’ll be made up very quickly.
    I doubt Russia will indulge in counter-battery fire against TSK heavy artillery in Hatay, that’s a political step too far for Putin but the Syrians will be supplied with more heavy artillery pieces so they can do the job themselves. Meanwhile, the “Syria Express” will keep operating through the Bosphorus, delivering the guns and ammunition to Syria.

  31. turcopolier says:

    Ghost Ship
    Is there any reason to think that the sultan’s conscripts led by the survivors of Islamist purges are any better than the jihadis themselves? These are not the Turkish Kemalist ‘askar that I served with long ago. Erdo I has overestimated his position and his leverage. Russia has told him to f—k off. Trump has done the same in the matters of US Patriot units and the possibility of US air support in Syria. His forces are in retreat. A student of war in the abstract might think that an optimal R+6 move would be to trap a Turkish vehicle column out of the M-4, knock out the first few and last vehicles and then pound the s–t out of them Erdo’s reaction would be interesting. BTW Excellent series on Netflix originals on the fall of Constantinople “The Ottomans”

  32. Barbara Ann says:

    Having Erdogan isolated is good news, but potentially very dangerous, if he feels he has nowhere to go. The student of war in the abstract you describe may inadvertently start WWIII. What would the much wiser student of war and of this specific predicament (yourself) advise Colonel?

  33. Alves says:

    It is impressive how drones and AD systems like Pantsir (which is relatively cheap) and S-300 or S-400 are shaping the results of this war everytime it heats. I hope my country`s military is paying attention…

  34. Jane says:

    Given the situation in IDLIB, Erdo has been forced to regularize his relationship with HTS, which continues to fight with and against the “moderate” jihadis. He is likely to get stuck with all of them and their families.
    Hatay went to French-mandated Syria in the 1923 agreements. It had a very mixed population that included Sunni and Alawite and Christian Arabs, as well as what was left of the region’s Armenians and Syriacs. There was also a significant Turkish presence, but small that the above. Thus they remained in Syria until the French prepared to leave. Turkey began moving thousands of Turks into the area so that they could shape the population deciding on their future. The French were in no mood the get into it with Turkey, so they just let them take over. This sent most of the Armenians and Syriacs across the new border, as did other Christians and, of course, the Alawites.
    Despite all this there remains a small contingent of Christians, but of course four of the five of the heads of Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches called “Patriarch of Antioch” had to set up shop in Damascus, except for the Armenian, who settled in Antelias, Lebanon. The Maronite Patriarch established his see in Bkerke, Lebanon centuries before.

  35. Kilo 4/11 says:

    @ Leith | 01 March 2020 at 09:39 PM:
    “how did she ever manage to tote and load 100 pound projos?”
    Well, they lowered all the PT requirements for girls in Boot Camp, so maybe they made it a two person job for her? But that probably wouldn’t sit too well with the other cannon cockers, so perhaps she was slotted into the job after making E-4 in some other role.
    “a 24-hour stint of loading shells back in 1968.” Awesome – worthy of John Henry! Sounds like you were caught up in Tet. I just missed it.

  36. dean 1000 says:

    Slightly off topic. I didn’t know counter battery fire was so fast now. Does it mean the US Army will convert its SP’s into self-driving artillery and drop the armor to scoot fast enough to avoid CBF?

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