Concentration and Economy of Force in War


"Never bring all our forces into play haphazardly and at one time, thereby losing all means of directing the battle; but fatigue the opponent, if possible, with few forces and conserve a decisive mass for the critical moment. Once this decisive mass has been thrown in, it must be used with the greatest audacity."  Clausewitz


Many of you will be bored.  You think yourselves too grand to bother with the underlying philosophy of the soldier's trade.  Your eyes will glaze over and you will not read the linked essay encapsulating Clausewitz' meditations on war.  IMO he was the greatest of all philosophers of war.  He was far greater than people like Boyd and his "OODA Loop,"  far greater than the recent hackneyed apostles of the failed COIN cult.
The present situation in Syria is tolling the doom of the present Syrian secular state and the possibility of the existence of other such governments in the ME.  Sisi in Egypt is reviled in the leftist R2P media, but, in fact, he saved Egypt from jihadi rule IN SPITE OF the efforts of the snowflakes in the Borgist dominated US government.
Syria has committed the ultimate error.  It has spread its inadequate forces all over the map seeking all at once to realize Assad's desire to liberate all of Syria's territory more or less at once.
The R+6 is fighting at:
1. Around Daraa in he SW where he jihadis have the active support of Israel, which as usual,  sees its enemies in a light clouded by hatred for all Arabs.
2. In Suweida east of the Daraa corridor.
3. On the Syrian/Lebanese mountain border.
4. In northern Hama Province.
5.  In Palmyra's desert countryside.
6. At Deir al-Zor where the "battling bastards of Deir al-Zor" deserve every real soldier's admiration.
7.  In eastern Aleppo Province south of the US led Tabqa effort.
8.  West of Aleppo City where inadequate SAA forces try expand their perimeter against the resurgent forces of AQ jihadis who have been allowed to re-consolidate their positions after defeat in Aleppo City.
9.  Anywhere else?
You can't fight like this and win.  Absent significant Russian and Iranian reinforcements, in the end the Syrians, Hizbullah and Iranians will be gradually worn down and defeated nationwide.  And what then?  "What then" will be another jihadi emirate and a life of oppression for the Syrian minorities.  This seems to be acceptable to the Israeli/R2P satellite state called the US a satellite which was once a proud country. A country for which my ancestors literally fought since the 17th Century.
What should be done?  Syria should call for international volunteers, to be trained and organized in Syria.  At the same time, concentration of forces should be adopted as national strategy.  pl


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145 Responses to Concentration and Economy of Force in War

  1. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    The Diocletian states are with US on this one.
    So are the Gulfies.
    US is not alone in this endeavor.

  2. Jack says:

    Do you think the Russians are advising the SAA to fight on many fronts when it is clear they just don’t have the manpower for it? I’m really amazed at the resilience of the jihadis. They seem to have a way to replenish their forces with more men.

  3. Degringolade says:

    I think that anyone who has been in the military and has not read and thoroughly understood Clauswitz is, at best, an amateur.
    I am a huge fan of Boyd. But Boyd is a tactician who people keep trying to make into a strategist. This re-framing will never work.
    Over and over and over again the teaching of the master are ignored.
    His only weakness, and this is a personal opinion, worthy of any scorn you wish to offer, is that his precepts are very hard to apply to civil war.

  4. DianaLC says:

    You are right. I will not read the essay. It’s not because I don’t want to, and it’s not that I doubt my ability to understand it.
    But it is that I know that, like Emily Dickinson, I am nobody. I would not have any ability to influence anyone else with my new understanding from reading the essay.
    But if I did understand your post correctly, I am in agreement with you. I have never understood why the neocons, along with Obama and HRC were so hell bent on getting rid of Assad–or doing any of the crazy stuff they were doing with their “Arab Spring.” For some reason, I am always suspicious that the Saudis are somewhere pulling the American’s strings. But maybe that is just my own personal paranoia.
    If I were a different person–a young, strong, brave man and not an older woman going blind because of myopic retinal degeneration (thus, my major reason for not reading the essay)–I might want to take you up on the idea of volunteering for the sake of Syria’s secular government, if for no other reason than that the Coptic Christians had been protected there by Assad.
    Something is very wrong with our entire world lately. I’m glad I am old so I might not be witness to its implosion, but I am greatly saddened for my children and grandchildren.
    I can hope and believe that God is in control and will work things out, however, for them.

  5. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Would you care to speculate what the Russians are advising Assad? Their strategists must know all of Clausewitz and more. Given the facts on the ground, is there any possibility that Assad and his cadres are setting an independent strategy? (both non rhetorical questions)
    Many thanks
    Ishmael Zechariah

  6. Aussie says:

    Is there perhaps an analogy with Eisenhower’s choice in 1944 to pursue a “broad front” strategy in W Europe, overruling the objections of Monty and Patton for operational concentration of force? He had the objective of maintaining political and public support in an often fractious coalition, so maybe political goals can trump operational logic, as von C also said. Of course, I guess overwhelming industrial superiority gave him options on the battlefield.

  7. Serge says:

    I posted here during the first days of Russian intervention in 2015 that if a quick, decisive victory in internationally-supported jihadi heartland was not achieved, then the unlimited pool of cash and determination available to the local architects of Syria’s destruction would,in the medium term, outweigh Russia’s capability for power projection. Insofar as to the length Russia is willing to go in Syria is concerned, at least, which I believe by now precludes the possibility of significant Russian reinforcements alluded to here and previously by the colonel. Iran is still a wildcard however, I believe that she has sunk far too much capital into this war, and will be very reluctant to let the GCC and others gain the upper hand. I believe that Iran would rather engage in an all out regional war in that case rather than suffer a protracted collapse in the theater, which is what is currently in the cards.
    Has anyone followed the Palmyra front, for example? Now that’s a poisoned chalice if I ever saw one. ISIS releases media featuring dozens of KIA SAA on a regular almost daily basis, ATGM strikes on armor, etc. One of many examples all across the country of the SAA being stretched to breaking point by the maintenance of too many fronts for political purposes(Palmyra was a political point of vanity for the Russians- any economic benefit from controlling the surrounding fields is moot from ISIS destruction of such in the past 12 months). Forces that could be well used elsewhere to strike decisively

  8. Emad says:

    Also, whatever their shortcomings, Russians can’t be accused of not understanding concentration and economy of force. So from Tehran’s vantage point, political pressure by Assad doesn’t explain their acquiesence to R+6 being everywhere and nowhere. What explains this dispersion of forces is Russia’s apparent belief that making a deal with the Donald is still possible, which given the push by the U.S. to carve a Sunnistan out of Syria means that Russians are preparing their Iranian and Syrian allies for a series of battlefield setbacks that will in turn convince them that a unitary Syria is infeasible and perhaps even undesirable.

  9. b says:

    I agree with Clausewitz and you. But you are a bit unfair to the SAA.
    All the operation areas you name but one (east-Palmyra) are defensive in nature:
    – Daraa, Sueida are under attack from the U.S. coalition controlled through the operations center in Jordan. They need to take Daraa for their planned southern jihadi enclave “no-fly zone”. The SAA holds Daraa and tries to prevent that.
    – There is little fighting at the Syrian/Lebanese mountains. That is solely Hizbullah’s (Lebanon) realm and there are attempts to achieve some exchange of territory through negotiations.
    – northern Hama is a counterattack to the Al-Qaeda operation against Hama and to protect that city. The counterattack was successful but is barely back at its original position. It may go a few miles further (Khan Sheikhun) than the original lines to have better secured defensives.
    – Deir Ezzor is solely defensive in nature. Any stopping there and the city and the garrison will be overrun by ISIS.
    – The eastern Aleppo operation has stopped. It was necessary to prevent further Turkish incursion and a Turkish attack on Aleppo city.
    – There were some probing local attacks west of Aleppo city. This was reconnaissance by force aimed against an announced AQ attack that did not materialize (thanks to the bombing campaign in Idleb governate). That wasn’t a big operation but local brigade level stuff.
    The problem is of course that enemies of Syria, mainly the U.S., AQ and ISIS, coordinate their operations to keep the SAA busy everywhere. As soon as a big SAA move to X is prepared a diversion attack by its enemies on Y will happen and reserves will be needed to stop it.
    Russia is trying to convince Erdogan to stop supporting AQ in Idleb. Erdogan will be in Moscow in mid May. Should this succeed the summer will see a big attack on Idleb governate. (The Russian/Syrian bombing preparations are already in full swing. These must cause enormous, though yet hidden, damages on AQ and all other forces in the area.) The alternative is a big operation towards Deir Ezzor to prevent the U.S. from creating its east-Syrian Sunnistan proxy. This would be difficult and dangerous for the SAA and require a lot of resources.
    Whatever. There are clearly preparations for a big push in summer. But where and with how many forces is unknown to me.

  10. shanks says:

    I dont know what the strategy is but there is one outcome that is guaranteed, there will be no christian presence in the middle east in the next few years,save Israel. And this will happen irrespective of Assad’s win or lose gambit. And that’s for minorities.
    As for Shias, well, I suppose they could convert to Sunni everywhere except Iran.

  11. Green Zone Café says:

    Dissent on Sisi. I was in Cairo for months after the coup, including Sisi’s “election.”
    The teachers in the Arabic school I was in were split. I provoked a debate on lunch breaks by asking “what was bad about Morsi?” and “Is Sisi the new Mubarak?” This was after Rabaa. A lot of the objection to Morsi had to do with things that were out of Morsi’s control, like increased power and other service cuts that were possibly staged by deep state (according to the NYT) and were miraculously reduced after the coup. The other stuff had to do with street harassers feeling empowered, not state action.
    For all of the supposed Islamism, Morsi didn’t do much in that regard. The bars stayed open, Stella brewery kept making beer, Al Ahram distilleries kept making vodka, gin and whiskey. The threats against secular critics like Bassem Yousef were mild compared to what Sisi does. Yousef, the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” was shut and had to flee Egypt under Sisi. There was ten times more freedom of speech and political action under Morsi than now.
    Morsi took a harder line against Israel, might have given Hamas more freedom across the Gaza border, but that wasn’t an issue for internal governance.
    Morsi was an incompetent politician in many ways, he alternated between saying provocative things and trying to appease the security apparatus. He appointed Sisi! But he was in a tough situation, opposed by all the holdover hacks in the government and the judiciary from the Mubarak days. For example, the judiciary annulled the parliamentary election on dubious grounds, putting Morsi in a tough spot so he had to rule by decree rather than parliamentary consensus.
    The Tamarod movement which rose up to protest Morsi, leading to the coup, was funded by the Gulfies:
    If the elected government had hobbled along to another free and fair election and eventually to a peaceful change of power, it could have changed the Arab world and Islam.
    Presumably, the Gulfies saw an elected Sunni MB government as a bad example and a threat to their absolute monarchical power.
    Undoubtedly the Israelis were not happy by the shift on policy, either.
    You say it was the Borg that “supported” Morsi. I say it’s the Borg who pretty much cut him (the elected president) off, and quickly normalized relations with Sisi, a guy whose political skills consist of bullshitting, imprisoning, killing, and torture. Borg media’s muted response and amnesia regarding the Rabaa massacre is your cue on that issue.
    Once in power Sisi doubled down on imprisoning and torturing the kind of secular activists who rose up against both Mubarak and Morsi. He could have made them allies if he operated in good faith.
    Morsi didn’t bomb Mexican tourists, torture an Italian and many Egyptians to death, kill tourism by various means, sell off islands to the Saudis, or tank the Egyptian pound. It’s amazing how incompetent the Sisi regime is.
    Here’s a high Borg propaganda platform saying how great the Tamarod uprising was, though:

  12. TryPeace says:

    A short post, but among your most thoughtful and predicated on an intimate knowledge of warfare.
    I think Israel’s position is beyond a mere fake “neutrality”. There is a deep underlying logic, and it goes right back to the GCC.
    The Syria quagmire might simply represent the planning of the Washington establishment since the days when Anthony Cordsman extrapolated ME population dynamics in the late 90s into the early 21st century.
    Syria is bleeding all of Israel’s enemies dry, although in my humble opinion, Israel is making a terrible miscalculation betting on the Sunnis at this stage. It assumes it can crush the GCC the day the Shia are bled dry. This presumes that the present political configuration remains in its favor.
    Who is to say it will?

  13. Barbara Ann says:

    I have been wondering the same thing. Since the Russians took charge I had expected to see a much more concentrated use of force, but as you say it appears to be highly distributed and therefore to defy military logic. Nevertheless the R+6 do appear to be gaining – and holding – significant ground, especially most recently in Idlib.
    I’d be interested in others’ opinions on a rationale for what we are seeing. Is it perhaps simply a sign of confidence? Unconstrained by the conventions of minimizing casualties among no-combatants, the RuAF seemingly has the resources to support the limited ground troops adequately on all fronts. The SAA itself may be hollowed out, but Hezbollah manpower does not to seem to be in short supply. On the other side, I have also seen it argued that Turkish support for it’s pet Jihadis has melted away, thanks to an agreement with Russia (may explain some recent infighting). Perhaps the Syrian allied forces simply feel confident of winning on all fronts simultaneously.
    It must nevertheless be tempting for all those with an interest in R+6 failing to keep the burn rate in their blood & treasure high for as long as possible. Another ‘certified’ regime CW attack could still change everything.

  14. DanW says:

    Is there a way for American volunteers to fight for the Syrian govt against the takfiris? It breaks my heart reading about the destruction of Syria, and the borg’s support for the Al Qaeda factions and the “moderate” salafists. I’m a pizza delivery driver in the midwest tired of sitting here watching the ziocons “humanitarian” regime-change wars unfold, as my brainwashed friends consume the cable news propaganda pablum.

  15. Ghostship says:

    Do the Syrians have the option to concentrate their forces as you suggest? They have forces in all those areas for a reason, which is mostly those are the areas where the terrorists are established and prepared to fight. If the Syrians don’t keep up the pressure on terrorists with adequate forces in all those locations then the terrorists will reinforce, rearm and prepare for further aggression as happened in the past year in Palmyra. And if they see weakness on the part of the Syrian government all the terrorists and rebels with reconciliation agreements will re-enter the fight. So anywhere the terrorists attack the Syrian government, the Syrian gvernment has to respond.
    The closest parallel I can see with this war is World War 1 and I wonder if the recent assault into North Hama by the terrorists has parallels with the German Spring Offensive of 1918, and we should all know where that put the Germans. When an army and I think the terrorists are an army if somewhat disunited, are put under enough pressure which I think the terrorists have, then the end can come unexpectedly quickly. In the late summer of 1918 most observers expected the war to go on for a year or more. When the German Army collapsed, those observers were so relieved that they fell for the Hindenburg/Lubendorff “Armistice” trap with even more dreadful consequences a few years latter.
    The Russians understand that the Syrian government rather than the Russians and Iranians have to be seen as the winners and to do that the R+6 have to grind the terrorists into the dirt without substantial Russian or Iranian ground forces and that is what they’re doing now with the application of air power instead of massed artillery.
    If they’re too aggressive now coherent terrorist groups will flee across the border into their safe haven in Turkey under the protection of NATO to reinforce, rearm and retrain before returning to Syria when the Russians go home. While the United States and much of NATO insist on protecting two of the largest state sponsors of terrorism, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Russians and Syrians have few other options. However, a few Kalibrs hitting Doha and Riyadh would concentrate minds wonderfully but the United States, more particularly the Borg, would never allow that.

  16. turcopolier says:

    “So anywhere the terrorists attack the Syrian government, the Syrian government has to respond.” If it is the case that the Syrian government has permanently and inherently lost the initiative to the various rebel groups, then the government will inevitably be defeated. This is not a COIN war. It is a war in which there are actual concentrations of semi-conventional rebel forces that seek to hold territory, population and natural resources. This is not a case of the “fish” swimming in the sea of the people. Where the rebels rule, the government does not hold ground except in pockets like Deir al-Zor. The government must be willing to take risks in some areas in order to be able to mass for offensive action in key areas. Deir al-zor is not in my opinion a critical area. Neither is Suweida. Idlib Province is and the baleful effect of not re-capturing the province in evident in the IO sarin gas stunt conducted by the jihadis who have been allowed to remain in control in the province. you sound like many colleagues in my military career who always wanted to see forces parcelled out across a front rather than massed for decisive action. Eisenhower’s approach actually represented an absence of any kind of creative thought. market-Garden was actually an excellent plan. the problem with it was that British 30th Corps did not perform well and did not reach Arnhem in the time required. pl

  17. turcopolier says:

    I agree that Putin is still hoping for a American agreement and that causes him to not seek decisive action in Syria. For that reason he does not seek to impose Russian guidance on Syrian deployments. IMO, this is a bad policy from the Russian point of view. pl

  18. Leonardo says:

    On top of that, just a few days ago Al Zawahiri was suggesting that Al-Sham should switch to guerrilla warfare in Syria. He seemed to advocate a hit and run approach for the next leg of the war.
    So, maybe, after 6 years of conflicts the Syrian government enemies might be as spent as the SAA, or even more. And maybe the R+6 knows it and means to keep up the pressure in order to prevent his adversaries from catching their breath?
    I find this post scary, because since I’ve begun reading this blog, Colonel Lang has almost always been proved right. I just hope the R+6 has more information than the Colonel on this issue. This war must be brought to an end as soon as possibile. It has already caused unbearable destruction and pain to too many human beings.

  19. shepherd says:

    Clausewitz is available in a free audiobook:

  20. turcopolier says:

    Diana LC
    My eyes are pretty bad also and I am 77 years old the end of May. There are very few Coptic Christians in Syria. there are many Christians but few are Coptic. The Copts are basically east African sects of Christianity. It is true that the present secular government of Syria has attempted to protect the Christians, something that means nothing to the Borgists who run the US foreign policy. pl

  21. LG says:

    I think a thin line separates one islamist (sunni) group from another – MB to AQ to ISIS- as has been seen in Turkey.
    Please read the relevant portions from this ex AQ guy about the Morsi govt.
    Nabeel Naiem: The legal case (former Egyptian president) Mohammad Morsi is being tried for, the case of communicating (with the enemy) and contacting Ayman Zawahri was an assignment of Issam Haddad by Obama in person on 28 December 2012, he was at the White House in a meeting with the CIA, he says in his confessions when interrogated by the public prosecution in the case..
    – How did you get it?
    Nabeel Naiem: These public prosecution confessions are published and are available.. Obama entered (the meeting room) and gave the CIA team a paper and left, they read it and told him: it’s required by the Muslim Brotherhood to contain the radical groups in the region starting with Hamas & Al-Qaeda, so he called Ayman Zawahri through Rifa’a Tahtawi, head of presidential court, who happens to be Ayman’s cousin from Rifa’a Tahtawi’s phone.
    Ayman (Zawahri) talking to Mohammad Morsi and Morsi says to him: Peace be Upon You Emir (Prince) of Believers, we need your people here in Sinai, and I will provide them with expenses, food and water and prevent security from pursuing them..
    This was recorded and sent to the public prosecutor and this is what Mohammad Morsi is being tried for.
    If you ask how I got to know this? I was in Channel 2 of Egyptian TV, and with me was General Gamal, 1st secretary of Egyptian Intelligence, who recorded the call and written it down and based on it the memo was written and handed to the Public Prosecutor.
    The TV presenter asked him: Is it allowed for the Intelligence Services to tap the telephone of the president of the republic?
    He replied: I’m not tapping the president’s phone, I was tapping Ayman’s (Zawahri) phone and found the president talking to him, telling him Peace be Upon You Emir of Believers, so I wrote down the tape, wrote a report and submitted to the head of intelligence..
    She asked him: Did you inform the president? He replied: It’s not my job, I do not deal with the president (directly), I deal with the head of intelligence and that’s my limits.
    She asked him: What did you write in your investigations and your own report, what did you write after you wrote down the tape (contents)?
    I swear to God he told her, & I was in the same studio,: I wrote that Mr. Mohammad Morsi Ayyat president of the republic is a danger for Egypt’s National Security.
    So the ignorant should know why the army stood by the side of the people on 30 June, because the president is dealing with Al-Qaeda organization, and it’s recorded, and he’s being on trial for it now, and head of intelligence wrote that the president of the republic is a danger on Egypt’s National Security

  22. turcopolier says:

    Leonardo & IZ
    IMO the SAA is not “spent” at all. It is a lot smaller than the pre-war Syrian Army and air force but those slave like Mamelukes were not very good at anything except head bashing involving civilians much like the Egyptian Army to this day. What has happened in the war is that the SAA has been seasoned (not hollowed out) and old units that were not worth much have become valuable (like the Republican Guard) while others like the Tiger Forces have emerged under aggressive skilled commanders like Suhail. the problem with the SAA is that there are not enough of them to spread them all over the country successfully against a non-guerrilla enemy. IMO if the jihadis want to stop holding ground and population the R+6 will wipe them out. pl

  23. Lurker says:

    Russian war doctrine seeks to attain the military objective without utterly humiliating the adversary with “overwhelming force” as Gen Colin Powell’s doctrine articulates it. For example: in Georgia, RF stopped their advance before reaching Tbilisi. Likewise, Crimea was taken without firing ( a few) shots. Yes, Chechnya is another story but even then and there, RF has granted considerable latitude to Kadyrov and Chechnya is almost an independent republic in all but international embassies. Russia let Obama save face in Syria after the Ghouta false flag red line prevarication. Russia is allowing Turkey, Israel, USA and NATO to save face. Russia could have overreacted to the 59 Tomahawk missile barrage but chose not to. In the Russian psyche, restrain is a sign of strength not weakness. So, Russia provides essential Air Cover and guidance for Assad but wants this proxy war to be resolved politically not militarily. If Russia wanted this invasion resolved militarily, it would be over rather quickly. But this is not her doctrine.

  24. turcopolier says:

    If that is their doctrine in this case they are sadly mistaken because the jihadis will wear the R+6 down and destroy their effort. pl

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Le Monde Interview with Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iranian Supreme National Security Council

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Then they be wrong; this particular adversary has to be annihilated on the field of battle.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree.
    Also that Mursi was not a revolutionary; that would be his damning epitaph.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That would be news to Christians in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.

  29. LeaNder says:

    Serge, I’ll try to read Clausewitz.
    But if I do, it may be partly since some around here tried to establish themselves as some type of a modern Tiresias/Teiresias (in my language) similar to you, somewhat, lately. To the extend I watched, they seemed to practice something similar in variation: “I told you so.” Meaning: from my pretty limited perception, they claimed they always demanded as necessary, something I only noticed Pat had considered necessary quite early.
    Could you put your first paragraph into something like a nutshell for slow learners, like me?
    Would this be close what you are trying to tell us: Russia hasn’t been quite sunken in the expected quagmire (semi-irony-alert), but it sure has sunk too much money already. It will not and does not put more troops on the ground.
    But Iran should?
    Have the Iran sanctions been lifted? Did it get the freezed money back it didn’t deserve to have back, according to Trump, anyway?
    And if they did, what would be the “international” support for it? Referring to “internationally-supported jihadi heartland” here.

  30. BraveNewWorld says:

    “I’d be interested in others’ opinions on a rationale for what we are seeing.”
    ‘b’ has part of it up top in that a lot of this is reaction to things the opposition has done.
    But another piece is that this is a proxy war and every buddy has their own interests. The Syrians want to keep their people alive and make sure they have water etc. The Russians care more about the area to the West where their bases are. The Iranians care more about the East where Daesh is. If you want to keep the players in the game you have to keep them happy.

  31. Apol says:

    ‘Why did Trump bomb Cherat?’ by Theirry Meissan at Voltaire. net…a fascinating hypothesis.

  32. Larry Kart says:

    What follows may be far above my pay grade (if so, I’ll no doubt be reminded of that), but a big part of the problem there, I believe, was that Monty was an intractable jerk/know-it-all who in fact did not know it all, while Brit forces had understandably pretty much run out of gas in terms of their ability/willingness to press things home. See their near-disastrous failure to take the peninsula that enfiladed Antwerp when it was ripe to be taken, which delayed further operations a great deal for Allied forces throughout much of Europe because Antwerp could not be used as a much-needed supply port until the German forces on that close-to-Antwerp peninsula were defeated.
    Patton, too, had some jerk (or rampant ego) in him, but his forces were full of ability/willingness to strike forcefully/boldly, as was their commander. Ike’s problem was that politically — in terms of the Allied military high command and, above that, the FDR/Churchill alliance — he had to make further operations at least look like a team effort. Monty’s proposed (and IIRC post-Arnhem, lest we forget) “Let me do this while you guys pretty much cover my ass” would-be thrust into the northern Germany probably wouldn’t have worked for the reasons mentioned in the first sentence above, and also because, quite intentionally so on Monty’s part, it would have blown the appearance that this was a team-effort to kingdom come (and, again, almost certainly, Monty’s approach would have failed military terms).
    Throwing as much weight as possible (supplies, especially) behind Patton might have been a much better approach militarily (though in the event Patton would get wastefully stalled at Metz), but apparently that was not a politically possible strategy, again for the reasons mentioned above. Thus the broad front approach, lots of lost time, lots of deaths that might have not occurred. My sense is that if Monty could have been gagged or outright removed from command, the war would have been over a good deal sooner.

  33. Barbara Ann says:

    Parallels in Syria with the International Brigades are evident. How is your Kurdish? The SDF has a sizable contingent of foreign volunteers (incl. from USA) judging from their media output. If you are OK with their femo-marxist politics – or are just happy they are not salafists – it is always an option.
    The soldier of conscience faces the additional risk of scrutiny on returning home, but Western governments seem to be generally taking a soft line on SDF volunteers, so far. That may change if they come into conflict with Turkish NATO troops in the future.
    I’ll be restricting my resistance to the Borg to the homeland, but I have the greatest of respect for all those that choose this option.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    But I fail to see how your narrative serves as a legal basis for the Mursi’s indictment, let alone trial.
    He was acting in his capacity as the Head of State – he ought to talk to any and all, including criminals, enemies etc. That is part and parcel of being the Head of State.
    Was the Prophet any less for conversing with Meccans and reaching a Hudna with them?
    Or Imam Ali with Muawiya?
    Or Saladin with the Crusaders?

  35. Lurker says:

    I think that Russia is clear that the jihadis need to be neutralized with extreme prejudice but we are talking about not humiliating their financiers and war architects in Doha, Riyad, DC, Jerusalem, Brussels, Ankara, Amman. I refer you as an example, to the Debalsevo cauldron where mercs Soldiers of Fortune and NATO SF were surrounded and slated for anihilation but instead were rescued by Putin giving a helpful hand and peace pipe to Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko with the Minsk accord.

  36. Thanks for this Post P.L.! Am I correct that Assad continues to not understand his failures and the persistence of his enemies?

  37. Peter in Toronto says:

    Has anyone been able to survey what the main source of the manpower for the Jihadst Sunni insurgency in Syria is?
    How can they pose such a formidable challenge to the Syrian state? We’re all aware of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jihad tourists out of the West and the Russian Commonwealth, but the standing armies that HTS (ex-Nusra) and Ahrar al Sham are able to deploy number in the tens of thousands.
    Has there been a demographic shift within Syria herself, favouring the rural Sunnis and the resurgent Muslim Brotherhood?

  38. turcopolier says:

    Larry Kart
    Maybe you are right about Market-Garden but I have my doubts about that. British 30th Corps did not press hard up the road that 1st Allied Airborne Army had cleared for them at the bridges. A close friend of mine (Bill harris) was with the 82nd in that operation and he remembered the British sitting down in the afternoons to brew up tea as well as a Hussar officer who came to report to Gavin in his blue and scarlet “patrol” uniform. Gavin was nonplussed and offered the captain a hit of his best bourbon which the man gratefully accepted. An then there was the awkwardness of British 1st Airborne Division being dropped six miles from the objective bridge with radios that did not network with supporting headquarters or England. seem to me the signals officers should have gotten Article 45. And finally there was the ultimate awkwardness of Obergruppenfuehrer Bittrich and his SS Panzer Corps which just happened to be around Arnhem. I think this might have worked and mightily embarrassed the German if 30 Corps had suddenly been across the Rhine. pl

  39. turcopolier says:

    Peter in Toronto
    There always were a lot of rural Sunni Arabs. IMO that and the tourist jihadis account for the numbers. pl

  40. turcopolier says:

    I think he is still very much in control and does not understand the lesson I am trying to teach. pl

  41. turcopolier says:

    Don’t make cryptic references on SST. Explain what the man said. pl

  42. turcopolier says:

    Michael Handel, perhaps the greatest modern scholar of Clausewitz, used to tell me that even in translation “On War” was very much written in “heavy, early 19th Century, academic kraut.” Don’t expect an easy read. pl

  43. Green Zone Café says:

    Not to mention that if anyone had Al Zawahiri’s phone number, Al Zawahiri would be dead.

  44. Wunduk says:

    Zawahiri never used the title of “Emir of Believers” or commander of the faithful (quoted as amîr al-muminîn at min. 25:36 in the referenced video), he always referred to Taliban leader Mullah Omar using this title until 2015 and opposed al-Baghdadi using it. Having someone claim second-hand that Mursi used the title literally repeatedly without being objected or corrected by the pedantic Zawahiri sounds pretty dubious to me.

  45. Serge says:

    Yes, it’s pretty much what I’m saying, in a nutshell I don’t believe that the Russians see themselves as having enough skin in the game relative to the amount of treasure they are using on Syria and would be required for a massive deployment(whether this is an accurate assessment on their part is another question). I believe that the Iranians do believe that they have skin in the game. I used international jihadi heartland to differentiate from ISISland, which I have always believed since 2013 is a fully independent and sovereign outfit, beholden to noone, which is not the case for those in Idlib et al who are all direct proxies to one GCC or another or to Turkey. The international support for it would be a continuation of cash and arms, even with all the attrition suffered by the idlibites since Russian intervention I continue to believe that manpower is not an issue. The youth bulge is a thing, and looking at their troop composition a very good part of the internationally supported jihadis were pre pubescent when the SCW started, and this segment of youth were the core from the start.

  46. Will.2718 says:

    agreed. “Apol
    Don’t make cryptic references on SST. Explain what the man said. pl”
    Why did Trump bomb Cheyrat?
    by Thierry Meyssan
    “Based on this action, he began negotiations with the deep US State, or at least with one of its spokespersons, Senator John McCain. A representative of Israël, Senator Lindsey Graham, was also present during the discussions.
    As for Syria, this agreement, if ratified by both parties, should mark the end of the US war against the Syrian Arab Republic – a war that was pursued thanks to the initiative of the United Kingdom and Israël, with their allies (Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, etc.). Little by little, the phony « Friends of Syria », which united 130 States and international organisations in 2012, began shrinking. There are only 10 left today.”

  47. Patrick S. says:

    It seems to me that the SAA is attempting to close out some of the persistent pockets, thereby freeing up soldiers to focus on other fronts to close those out, while playing defense where near-term victory is probably not achievable. In some cases this is by diplomacy, and in others by siege. Concentrating their opponents in Idlib might make sense if they can thereby reduce the number of fronts, ultimately allowing for a focused invasion of Idlib. That said, it seems that whenever a few pockets are eliminated, new fronts crop up — as if there were some over-arching influence organizing the jihadis. Now there is the invasion from Jordan into the eastern desert to worry about.

  48. LondonBob says:

    My impression is that they are still hoping that the supply lines get closed. The offensive on Idlib would have the potential to create a refugee surge to Turkey, we might well be near the point at which Turkey decides to pull the plug. I have seen it alleged the Turks are already providing intel for the RuAF targeting there.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The International Brigade analogue here would be the Shia Muslims from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and some of the Persian Gulf Arab states.

  50. Alaric says:

    I believe that Putin, at least, wants to drag out the Syrian conflict. Russia has benefitted enormously from the chaos and discord it has created. The immigrant crisis has contributed to Brexit, and greater popularity of nationalist and Russia friendly parties throughout Europe. Turkey, once a staunch US ally, is a bit of a question mark. Putin has greatly improved ties with Egypt as has Iran and US intent and direction from Saudi and Israel are clear to all and not appreciated. Putin has allowed neocon policies to take thier course which has been a disaster for the US. It is also preferable for the Russians to kill jihadists in Syria than in Russia. There is a finite number of suicidal jihadists and thier slaughter in Syria hinders recruitment.
    But the fun can not last forever. Putin and the Iranians need to end this.

  51. Jony Kanuck says:

    The problem in latter ww2 was not Montgomery, it was Churchill. There were competent Brit. generals but Churchill would sack them if they didn’t provide victories when he needed them in the House of Commons. As well as being a relentless self promoter, Montgomery stood up to Churchill.
    On Arnhem; The whole operation was put together in one month. As well as not getting the right radios & not dropping onto a panzer division, the Brits didn’t listen to the Dutch liason officers. The Dutch wargamed almost the same operation before the war. They found the only way to quickly get to Arnhem was to cross the Rhine.

  52. LeaNder says:

    But another piece is that this is a proxy war and every buddy has their own interests.
    BNW, all three listed players no doubt have their own interests, but can one really say they fight by proxy?
    Does Hizbollah fight by proxy? You forgot to list them. Since they have no interest of their own? Since they are not fighting by proxy?
    Besides Iranians in your list alludes to Iranian + Iraqi forces? Is that why you feel they only care about the East?

  53. Red Cloud says:

    This seems like doom and gloom and I’m not buying it. ISIS and AQ/affiliates have used this same strategy of forcing the SAA to be everywhere at once for years now. Even before all of the successes of the past year by the R+6 they were still forced to be everywhere at once.
    That hasn’t changed yet the R+6 is still on the offensive. If anything, the Idlib head-choppers and ISIS are the ones who seem like a spent force. HTS threw everything they had at the R+6 in a desperate attempt to reach Hama city that failed. This was while the R+6 were making advances in other parts of the country.
    There are clearly some very important reasons why the R+6 sees a need to hold places like Deir Ezzor and Suweida that they aren’t advertising to the world. Perhaps the R+6 overcommitting in Idlib and leaving Daraa open is exactly what HTS is waiting for…

  54. Thomas says:

    CGTN had a report this morning that Iran is seriously considering sending more forces to Syria in the form of advisors and volunteers.
    An interesting political development is de Mistura attending talks in Astana which brings the question is this for show or go?
    “UN Special Envoy de Mistura will be joining the high-level meeting on Syria in Astana on 3 and 4 May,” the note to correspondents says. “In view of the urgency and importance of re-establishing a de-escalation of the situation in Syria and moving on confidence-building measures, he has agreed to attend the meeting as an observer at the invitation of the Kazakh government.”
    While in Astana, de Mistura is planning to conduct political consultations with the ceasefire guarantors (Russia, Turkey and Iran).
    “This will be particularly timely as he is at present putting finishing touches on his deliberations regarding the next round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva,” it said.”

  55. Bandolero says:

    before pushing the send button of this comment, please be assured my highest esteem for your work here, however, regarding this article, I’m scratching my head and guess you’re joking.
    From what I understand about the war in Syria the Syrian army and their partners are just on the right path to win. Their enemies already kill each other:
    And the Russian proposal which I find likely to at least partly be adopted in Astana talks promises more of that, begin quote:
    The paper emphasizes the necessary to create conditions to drive out Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations (both outlawed in numerous countries) from de-escalation zones with the help of the Syrian opposition.
    End quote. Source:
    Now regarding Clausewitz I must say that I’m not familiar with his writings. However, I heard his main opus is Vom Kriege, written in 1832. On the “Economy of Forces” I read there in the book “Strategy in General” the following, quote begin:
    “As one of these simplified characteristic points as a mental appliance, we look upon the principle of watching continually over the co-operation of all forces, or in other words, of keeping constantly in view that no part of them should ever be idle. Whoever has forces where the enemy does not give them sufficient employment, whoever has part of his forces on the march—that is, allows them to lie dead—while the enemy’s are fighting, he is a bad manager of his forces. In this sense there is a waste of forces, which is even worse than the employment to no purpose. If there must be action, then the first point is that all parts act, because the most purposeless activity still keeps employed and destroys a portion of the enemy’s force, whilst troops completely inactive are for the moment quite neutralised. …”
    Quote end, source:
    For discussing the R+6 force positioning over Syria it seems to me to be more apt then your quote from the chapter “Tactics Or The Theory Of Combat” from an article by Clausewitz’ from 1812. What you quoted are early Clausewitz thoughts about, what I would understand as battle tactics, just above this proposed order for positioning forces for a battle:

  56. turcopolier says:

    I do not agree with any of that, but sadly, I do not think you are joking. Perhaps you should actually read Vom Kriege. i do not think the IS and AQ groups can be negotiated out of existence and as someone here observed their population base among rural Sunni Arabs will remain. Unless they can be forced back into guerrilla warfare they are going to win in the long run. pl

  57. LJ says:

    Elijah Magniar said the US is going ahead with a “safe haven” plan, aka partition. If this is the case, then one would have to surmise that there has been US/Russia diplomacy to support this.

  58. turcopolier says:

    “The whole operation was put together in one month.” A month seems plenty of time to me. There were massive staffs involved at several echelons. you think a month was not a lot of time? I would agree about Montgomery. He was much over-rated and an arrogant little prig. pl

  59. Pundita says:

    From the last paragraph of the transcript of SouthFront’s April 27 video profile of the Desert Hawks, it looks as if the SAA is moving toward concentration of forces. They’re integrating militias into a coordinated fighting force and hashing out joint commands. This has been taking time but from the revelation at SouthFront they’re now getting their ducks in a row.
    At the end of this comment I’ll post the entire paragraph and link but for now I want to zip through a couple other points.
    The second-to-last paragraph in Sam Heller’s latest report on Idlib (April 24) delivers the blunt assessment that it’s all over but the shouting in Idlib (and not only there). As reading between the lines reveals, this is because the Usual Suspects machinating in Syria have been forced by the logic of Assad’s Reductio ad Absurdum military strategy to concede that it’s not possible to transform a bunch of cutthroats into model participants in a liberal democracy. They wanted to try in Idlib? Assad’s answer, it turned out, was, ‘Here’s a thousand more of them to experiment with. And another thousand, and another and another.’
    So while the Usual Suspects don’t actually care — IMO the experiment in Idlib was just to increase budget requests to their governments — they now know they can no longer justify the requests, a point Heller pounds home.
    Also pounding on the point is Erdogan, who’s recently kicked out of Turkey at least 5 Western “humanitarian” ngos working on the Idlib experiment. See Heller’s report, which I link to below, for the details, and the one he links to at Hurriyet.
    Heller ends his report by pleading to the Usual Suspects to save the civilians who will be caught in the middle of the looming Final Battle in Idlib between Assad’s forces and the cutthroats.
    During his second interview with Hong-Kong based Phoenix TV, which was this March, Assad thanked China’s government for the reconstruction they were doing in Syria.
    The Chinese interviewer chirped, ‘What else do you need?’ to which Assad replied, ‘Everything.’
    Everything is what Beijing wants to do in Syria in terms of reconstruction, although they don’t mind sharing the bonanza with Singapore and a few other countries in Phoenix’s giant viewing audience. They’ve been twiddling their thumbs waiting for the fighting to subside to a dull roar so they can send a few million Chinese into the country to rebuild it.
    I sense they’re tired of twiddling so Xi could have told Trump over chocolate cake, ‘So you want our help in dealing with the North Koreans? How about giving us help in Syria?’
    From Reuters, today, report filed at 4:49 pm ET
    Trump, Putin discuss Syria ceasefire in first talks since U.S. air strikes
    The White House said the two leaders agreed that “all parties must do all they can to end the violence” in Syria.
    “The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons,” a White House statement said.
    It said Washington would send a representative to Syrian ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday and Thursday.
    The State Department said acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones will attend the Astana talks as an observer.
    The Kremlin said Putin and Trump agreed to step up dialogue on finding ways to strengthen a ceasefire and give it stability.
    “The aim is to create the conditions for the launch for a real resolution process in Syria. This means that the Russian foreign minister and U.S. secretary of state will effectively inform the leaders about progress in this direction.”
    Links, quotes:
    SouthFront April 27 report, last paragraph:
    “In late 2016 and early 2017, the Desert Hawks brigade disappeared from the media coverage of the war and were not involved in major operations like the second advance on Palmyra or the battle in northern Hama. Pre-conditions that have led to this situation are not clear. However, this took place on the background of formation of the Syrian Arab Army’s 5th Assault Corps, the move described by experts as a first step in a larger government effort to merge at least a part of semi-independent pro-government groups and to set up a joint command over them. It is not known however to what extent, if at all, the Desert Hawks are affected by this.”
    Sam Heller’s April 24 report, last 2 paragraphs:
    “The proxy war against the Syrian regime in the northwest, for the West, is lost. The United States should be working to scale back its involvement in Syria’s war and, where possible, de-escalate the conflict and freeze current lines of control. That is not possible in the northwest. The fight between this jihadist-dominated fragment of the Syrian insurgency and the Assad regime will rage on. And in that fight, the United States and its allies have no clear rooting interest, no side to boost.
    America and its allies should be on the side of the civilians caught in the middle. They need help.”
    Description of The Idlib Experiment, for readers who don’t know about it — Heller’s November 29, 2016, “Keeping the Lights on in Rebel Idlib”
    March 2017 Assad interview with Phoenix TV:
    Phoenix TV

  60. LeaNder says:

    Interesting, what ya think? A true descendant of the Seljuk empire?
    I link a map you once added so others can visualize matters:
    But more specifically. What’s your take on: Let’s first take Manbij?

  61. anon says:

    me.gcc power is based on an immovable resource,oil.that is a fatal flaw.

  62. elaine says:

    Babak, Re: Erdogan’s speech that you posted: so now he wants Turkey to
    invest more in nuclear energy. Do you believe that’ll just be for peaceful means? Now he wants to chat with Trump about trade & more U.S. investment.
    What’s next?

  63. zk says:

    The front is long, but can they afford not to fight in all those places ?
    Most of these battles seem to be defensive, reactive, struggling to keep a foothold in a certain area.
    Should Deir Ezzor be abandoned, or Daraa or Hama ? Can they afford not to block the Turkish incursion by taking the Deir Hafer plain ?
    Palmyra salient seems to be about controlling access to gas/oil fields, as well as maintaining a staging area for launching the liberation (or evacuation) of Deir Ezzor pocket.
    Maybe after the Mosul and Raqqa battles the ratio of forces will be more in favor (PMUs ?) of the SAA, but I would not count on Russia and/or Iran to add any substantial ground forces to the mix.

  64. Brunswick says:

    Yup, the SAA is not in the position to “choose” where they fight,
    And the composition of the Pro-Government forces, also requires the many battles, many fronts.
    People forget that at the neighborhood/village level, this is still a multisided “gang fight”.

  65. DianaLC says:

    Thank you. I’ll take time tomorrow when I know I have some free time.

  66. turcopolier says:

    I absolutely disagree with that. This is NOT a gang fight at a village level. It would be that if the rebels had not formed conventional forces to hold ground, population and natural resources and to govern the areas they control. i will say it again. If the SAA do not dominate the agenda and seek to destroy the rebel forces and they allow this to be a “gang fight at the village level” then they will eventually be defeated and Syria will be no more. Instead there will be one or more jihadi emirates where Syria once was. IMO you are trapped in the COIN fallacy. pl

  67. turcopolier says:

    If the Syrian government does not set priorities and concentrate on defeating enemy forces in the main objective areas they will eventually end as one of many pockets in a much divided place where Syria once was. Don’t kid yourself jihadis cannot be negotiated into an equitable peace. Why would they? Their goal is salvation, not peace. No matter what they say they will just bide their time. pl

  68. LeaNder says:

    On War looks ok, to this Kraut, in the German original. Systematic. Starts pretty Kantian in fact.
    This looked a bit more difficult to figure out, but it isn’t. The title is not changed. Only a short introductory Passage addressing the Prussian king is missing.
    “heavy, early 19th Century, academic kraut.”
    No problem with the German of earlier centuries as long as it is not a tortuously bureaucrateeze.

  69. DanW says:

    I want to help Syria. The question was about helping the legitimate govt of Syria, not the U.S. backed SDF. Of course western govts are taking a soft line on SDF volunteers. If the Borg can’t get rid of Assad in Damascus, then they’ll settle for balkanizing and partitioning Syria.

  70. turcopolier says:

    I envy you. I am confined to translations. He wrote from a base of twenty years of campaigning not from an academic background although he wished to be acceptable in that world. He was rather contemptuous of military academic training as in staff colleges, writing that it was a poor substitute for actual experience. I share that opinion. someone mentioned JFC Fuller. He and Liddell Hart were my main military intellectual mentors along with the meister kraut. pl

  71. LondonBob says:

    Meh a Hollywood version of history. The rapid advance of the Anglo-Canadian Armies meant that clearing Antwerp was easier said than done, exhaustion and intelligence failures etc. did have an inevitable effect. Besides clearing the fortified island of Walcheren of the German 15th Army would prove to be the tough task it looked. I might note that in due course they had no problem eventually crossing the Rhine as well as advancing to Rostock to forestall any Soviet attempt to enter Denmark.
    Of course the rapid advance had meant a window of opportunity had opened up with the German Armies split and the path to the Ruhr as yet undefended. Eisenhower was right to back Operation Market Garden. It alone presented the chance to cross the Rhine and enter the Ruhr, open up the port at Rotterdam, end V1 and V2 bombing of Britain and was the only possible chance to end the war in 1944. The Anglo-Canadian armies had their own supply system and had the resources to mount the attack, the US armies did not.

  72. zk says:

    I’m afraid Syria as it existed before this conflict is gone.
    Most of what remains to be done is damage control. With luck and many more casualties, the government will survive and be able to keep together most of the urban and industrial areas, and enough of territory and resources to exist as a viable state in some form.

  73. LondonBob says:

    Arrogance is a meaningless metric, actually I think Montgomery, De Gaulle and Patton must have all been deeply insufferable. I wouldn’t say he was overrated though, no one puts him on a par with Von Manstein or Zhukov, except perhaps himself. He was however highly capable and a safe pair of hands, he usually brought victory, whether spectacular or not, and his losses were more setbacks than disasters. The Wehrmacht, including Rommel, had swept all before them until Montgomery came along and for that he perhaps received greater adulation than was necessarily justified. I would also say he looked after his troops well and never threw his men’s lives away recklessly, no doubt adding to his popularity. He learnt from his experiences in the trenches where Haig was obsessed with winning his great victory when the attritional trench warfare meant none was possible.
    Alexander was no doubt better company and more affable, but Alan Brooke was right to insist on appointing the more capable Montgomery.

  74. Larry Kart says:

    I wasn’t talking about Market Garden per se but about Monty’s post-Market Garden urgent proposal that Brit forces be “unleashed” to launch a supposedly war-ending thrust through Northern Germany, while Bradley’s and Patton’s forces would be more or less left to cool their heels.
    The failure to secure the Schledt Peninsula and events like that Market Garden tea-brewing incident you mentioned do suggest that by that time in the war British forces were not in sufficiently aggressive shape to successfully mount any operation into Northern Germany such as the one Monty proposed. Yes, Market Garden might have worked if that SS Panzer Corps had not been around Arnhem; and if Market Garden had worked, then much might have gone differently. But again, unless my chronology is mistaken, Monty’s urgent proposal as to how the thrust into Germany should proceed was a post-Market Garden affair.

  75. Larry Kart says:

    Wikipedia, FWIW, on the Battle of the Scheldt.
    ‘The battle of the Scheldt has later been described by historians as unnecessarily difficult as it could have been cleared earlier and more easily had the Allies given it a higher priority than Operation Market Garden. American historian Charles B. MacDonald later called the failure to immediately take the Scheldt “One of the greatest tactical mistakes of the war.”[14] Because of the flawed strategic choices made by the Allies in early September the battle became one of the longest and bloodiest that the Canadian army faced over the course of the Second World War.
    ‘The (French) Channel ports were “resolutely defended” as “fortresses” and Antwerp was the only solution, but Montgomery had ignored warnings from Admirals Cunningham and Ramsay that with the estuary still in German hands this vital port was “useless”. The Germans reinforced their island garrisons, and the Canadians “sustained 12,873 casualties in an operation which could have been achieved at little cost if tackled immediately after the capture of Antwerp. …. This delay was a grave blow to the Allied build-up before winter approached.”
    ‘Admiral Cunningham warned that Antwerp would be “as much use as Timbuctoo” unless the approaches were cleared, and Admiral Ramsay warned SHAEF and Montgomery that the Germans could block the Scheldt Estuary with ease. [Anthony] Beevor says that Montgomery not Horrocks was to blame for not clearing the approaches as he “was not interested in the estuary and thought that the Canadians could clear it later” . Allied commanders were looking ahead to “leaping the Rhine … in virtually one bound.”. But despite Eisenhower wanting the capture of one major port with its dock facilities intact, Montgomery insisted that the First Canadian Army should clear the German garrisons in Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk first, although they had all suffered demolitions and would not be navigable for some time. So the Canadians when they eventually stopped their assaults on the northern French ports and started on the Scheldt approaches on 2 October found that German resistance was far stronger than they imagined, as the remnants of the Fifteenth Army had time to escape and reinforce the island of Walcheren and the South Beveland Peninsula.

  76. Tunde says:

    And their pilgrimage tourism money for vials of River Jordan water, rosary beads and other trinkets.
    Not an endorsement of his statement but Obama had said Russia risked a quagmire in Syria initially when Russia began its aerial campaign in support of Assad. Does this suggest that the anti R+6 forces had a strategy of outspending/out resourcing Syria and her allies to exhaustion after observing that Russia would be unwilling to commit significant ground troops ?

  77. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No one is going to transfer any technology to Turks; their sole nuclear power plant is being built by Russia, operated by Russia, will be decommissioned by Russia, and Turks are not allowed on its grounds.
    Turks could follow the North Korean way, build a small – 2 MW – or even a zero-output graphite moderated natural uranium reactor and then build a larger one and so on; but they do not have it in themselves to do so.
    To you larger point of alluding to non-proliferation; in my opinion, US mortally wounded NPT and the other members of P5 pushed into its grave.

  78. Brunswick says:

    Actually, I don’t see the Syrian Civil War as a “Civil War” or a COIN fight at all.
    As we saw most famously in the liberation of Aleppo, but many other places as well:
    – there were very few “fish” in the sea, tiny fractions of those claimed by the MSM and the West,
    – there are very few “true jihadi’s” and many of them are foreign fighters, not Syrians. They do have a very “outsized” impact on local fighting but:
    – given a choice, many of the “indiginous” fighters, take the Reconciliation offer, in exchange for various forms of local powersharing or amnesty.
    IMHO, the “Syrian Civil War” is an example of how a small number of highly motivated foreign fighters, with a large amount of foreign funding and weapons, a small number of local fighters, using many different tactics, can leverage civil unrest and dissatisfaction with the Government, into a long protracted war.
    Given Syria’s prewar population of 22.7 million, and it’s youth bubble, far more Syrian’s have responded to the crisis by becoming internal or external refugees, than taking up arms.
    Even when the FSA was the main “front” organization, it’s org. list showed that it was an amalgamation of hundreds of different “fighting groups”, some with as many as 1500 “claimed” fighters, some, less than a dozen.

  79. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Good map, every Sunni Muslim terrorist attacker could be traced to outside of those boundaries.
    Erdogan wants to crush the Kurds – if he can – and roll-back the power of Iran – and now Russia – in the Middle East. Since he cannot do it by the powers of Turkey alone, he wants US to help him achieve that.
    I guess the idea is that after Iranians are evicted from Syria then Syria can be reconstituted along some vision of Ikhwan; hardly possible in my opinion.
    And he wants to do all of that without explicit war with the Party of Ali; without the Shia Doctors declaring Jihad. He is gambling that a Shia Jihad against Takfiris – or those that oppose the government of Syria and Iraq – is not in the cards.
    I would not be so sure if I were him.

  80. VietnamVet says:

    You are correct about the battlefield in Syria. I am concerned about the Homefront. The Atlantic Alliance is breaking apart under the stress of the constant wars, the influx of refugees and austerity. There is a mini World War ongoing in Syria and Iraq. At its root, this is a millennial Abrahamic Holy War. There will always be enough volunteers for a trip to paradise in a population of over a billion Sunnis. The Globalist wars for profit must end or Europe will be engulfed. The alternative to globalism is to restore government for the people, build conscript armies and secure the borders. Stop overthrowing governments and end the empowerment of criminal multi-national corporations. The only way to halt the march of chaos across the West is to restore the Middle Class by providing good jobs, education and health care for every citizen.

  81. Clueless Joe says:

    About manpower, and where rebels might get their troops, there’s a slightly interesting bit of “information” here:
    It’s the anti-Assad and rebel-friendly SOHR reporting on April 2017 deaths. As usual, this is not a complete list, and considering the guy’s a bit biased towards the rebels and against SAA, the numbers are even more staggering.
    215 SAA deaths
    308 Syrian loyalist militias deaths
    28 foreign troops pro-Assad deaths
    449 FSA and SDF deaths (why add both??)
    833 Islamist fighters deaths (not sure if they’re all non-Syrians or if he assumed all Nusra and ISIS guys weren’t Syrians when a part of them were)
    Whatever the real numbers, it seems the casualties don’t favour the rebels right now. The perk of doing mostly defensive battles and having RUAF (and USAF, for SDF) to help. Also of major interest, few non-Syrian loaylist deaths, but up to 2/3 of islamist troops right now are foreign jihadis. You can see plainly where rebels can hope to replenish their ranks – foreigners coming through Turkey, basically, with a seemingly very low popular/local active support.
    If new jihadis aren’t recruited in Syria but have to be imported, when SAA can still recruit some local people, I would assume that the situation isn’t (yet?) as bad as one can fear, but that’s a wholly uninformed lay guess. I agree that the issues raised by the Colonel are very worrying, I just wonder for how long various rebel groups can keep up launching attacks, if they’re bleeding badly.

  82. 505thPIR says:

    If your mobility is better aka abilit and I mean also your ability to reach out and touch some one, a seemingly scattered and un-connected defense may be some serious massing…no

  83. Jony Kanuck says:

    Arnhem: W/O doing reference, the month was from the permission being granted to do the operation: All the gas for the western front went to that operation. So it was more like 2-3 weeks & that’s where it fell apart: The wrong radios meant the Para’s could not call in rocket Typhoons & so had to go up against the panzers with PIAT’s. Not listening to the Dutch liaison officers meant attacking up a single road strung with villages. In 1944 the Brits had no APCs & their tanks did not have spaced armor. Thus the Brit tanks would outdistance their truck bound infantry at the first village & then have to sit in front of the next village waiting for the (poor bloody) infantry to catch up. The other side of the Rhine however was more or less forest roads to Arnhem. It was a good idea that fell apart in detail.
    My favourite story has Monty blowing up at Eisenhower in Ike’s trailer. Ike leaned over & patted Monty on the knee & said “Monty”! “You can’t talk to me like that”. “I’m your boss”. Monty apparently gulped air & shut up.
    If one is looking for historical comparisons, a good one would be the Spanish Civil War: Militias, murky coalition warfare & sponsorship. The Republican govt made some pretty questionable military decisions based on politics. The large Republican army wasn’t very good (weapons & training lacking) The Republic’s best units were the Internationals & the communist divisions, political warriors. When the Nationalists overran the Republic, Republican officers & school teachers were executed on capture.

  84. mauisurfer says:

    disagree totally
    the only ones benefiting from chaos in syria are israel
    and saudi + gulf sunnis + usa mil/ind/sec complex

  85. jonst says:

    Neither was Germany in WWII, they had Italy and Rumania, etc.

  86. turcopolier says:

    “usa mil/ind/sec complex” Tell me how the war in Syria benefits the “USA mil/ind/sec complex?” Is it the usual merchants of death baloney about how they get to sell ammunition and equipment to replace worn out or lost materiel? Is it desire for the oil and gas of Syria? What is it? pl

  87. turcopolier says:

    Jony kanuck
    Interesting detail, two or three weeks still seems adequate to me. Have you ever planned anything like this? I am curious to know who you are. A history professor? A present or former Canadian military person? I caution against “gotcha” comments. We do not spend our time here playing troll games. Eisenhower cautioned Monty in the scene you mention but he had no ability to fire him so the gesture was meaningless. pl

  88. turcopolier says:

    Clueless Joe
    If I understand you correctly, the jihadis are running out of recruitable manpowervand are increasingly composed of foreign fighters? pl

  89. turcopolier says:

    So, for you, it is a phony war, a war of few numbers and fighters? The intensity of combat in Aleppo City, the present Hama offensive and in East Ghouta would seem to deny that version of reality. pl

  90. Vic says:

    The concept of mass in Syrian Military operations maybe more complex than just counting manpower or units.
    The concept also encompases the massing of fire power. The Syrian government has it, the rebels lack it. Anytime the rebels mass; air power (and artillery) usually slaughters them in huge numbers. This keeps them largely spread out (dispersed for survival) and on the defensive. This often allows the Syrian military to mass locally/tactically to defeat them (except in built up areas that offer the defender a huge advantage in the defense).
    Nowadays one usually looks at realitive combat power, not units to calculate mass ratios. Qualitative factors nowadays tend to count more than just the size of the units involved. Most of these qualitative facts greatly favor the Syrian military over the rebels. Just to list some:
    * Speed/Maneuver. The Syrian Army is very mechanized and can use the roads with out getting the crap bombed out of them. This allows them in a given time period to affect several areas of the battlefield where the rebel units are largely stuck in place.
    * Better training. The Syrian military is similar (but not the same as) the professional military forces of the west. Men and units in such units operate as a synchronized/coordinated body, which greatly increases their combat power. Most videos of rebel forces in action seem to show armed civilians (street gangs) in disorganized violence. They kill unarmed civilians very well, but have difficulty when they run up against regular military units.
    * Unity of Command. The Syrian military has unity of command compared to the huge number of rebel groups mostly doing their own thing.
    * Better C2I. The Syrian military has more and better recon systems, and more and better communication systems. They see and react to the battlefield situation better than the rebels (who are increasingly just “dug in” waiting for their turn to be attacked. Their Russian planners and advisers to the Syrian army are light years better than the old Sunni Iraqi Army officers, Saudi military and Qatari offices the Rebels possibly have in their “war rooms” advising them.
    Just my opinion, but if you factor in qualitative factors and use “combat power” instead of man power the Syrian military has a significant over all mass advantage over the rebels.

  91. Matthew says:

    London Bob: I am currently reading a biography of Ataturk. He also dreamed of “returning” Aleppo and Mosel to the Turks.
    Maybe the current Sultan will settle for Rojava.

  92. turcopolier says:

    I agree with all of that and based on the superior mobility and available ground and air fire power available to R+6 it is my opinion that that this mass should be brought to bear in clearing Idlib Province. The rest of the current fighting sectors should be placed in economy of force status until that is accomplished. Otherwise the long time result in the war is likely to be a cease fire in place anda de facto partition of the the country. In that event the non-IS jihadis will use whatever areas they possess as redoubts from which to conduct guerrilla war against the government with Saudi and Turkish support. pl

  93. Larry Kart says:

    Correction on my part:
    Contrary to what I’ve previously stated, I believe that Monty’s “single thrust into Northern Germany to be mounted by British forces” plan was in good part a pre-Market Garden affair; and Market Garden, had it been a success, was supposed to flow right into that narrow-front assault into Northern Germany — though even if Market Garden had been a success, I don’t think that Ike would have given Monty the free-rein he wanted, for previously mentioned military and political reasons.

  94. Peter in Toronto says:

    “Russia has benefitted enormously from the chaos and discord it has created. The immigrant crisis has contributed to Brexit, and greater popularity of nationalist and Russia friendly parties throughout Europe.”
    That sounds very much like the narrative that’s being peddled by the Borgist cabal and their various dissemination channels, and frankly, I’m not buying it. It’s a clear attempt at fomenting a negative perception of the Putin government and further isolating Russia from the global US-led order. Putin has been far too sovereign for their liking; they were quite content plundering the few morsels of assets from the decaying carcass of Yeltsin’s Russia.
    >There is a finite number of suicidal jihadists and thier slaughter in Syria hinders recruitment.
    In the Wahhabite ideology, every womb becomes militarized for the purposes of Jihad. Don’t underestimate their demographics.

  95. Tunde says:

    My compliments to you Colonel and the discussants here on SST. A fascinating subject of which I have no knowledge but of which I have been encouraged to dig further into.
    Thank you.

  96. LeaNder says:

    I believe that the Iranians do believe that they have skin in the game.
    …since Russian intervention I continue to believe that manpower is not an issue. The youth bulge is a thing,
    you have the Iranian youth bulge as part of the larger regional youth bulge in mind? They could be trained and sent in?

  97. Fellow Traveler says:

    I guess Erdogan feels Trump has put him in a corner:
    Chief advisor of Turkey’s president, İlnur Çevik, gave statements about the conflict in Northern Syria and Turkey’s involvement in the region.
    Answering questions of radio show host Erkan Tan during a program on CRI FM, Çevik said the US soldiers ‘may be hit accidentally’ in the region.
    According to reports of Turkey’s online news portal OdaTV, Tan asked Çevik: “So, what do you say about the USA? They’ve become a protective shield for the PKK terrorists. They’ve literally become shield so that we don’t attack!”
    In response, Çevik said: “If PKK terrorists continue their acts within Turkey… You know, they leak into our country from Northern Syria; from that region. What happened to DAESH? One night, we went there all of a sudden and we found ourselves in Al-Bab. The same goes for Northern Syria. If they step up too far, our troops will not care that Americans’ armored (troops) are there. Out of nowhere, you’d see that maybe a few rockets hit them accidentally.”
    Having got shocked by statements of Çevik, the host Tan said: “Well, that’s a little harsh, though. You’re talking tough.”
    Çevik replied: “Well, if they (USA) do that, what else could we do?”

  98. Lemur says:

    Arguably its precisely when the middle class becomes affluent and assured of a good life the whole show goes down the tubes. Observe Scandinavia. Their economics are becoming more neo-liberal, they let corporations trick them into sending women into the labour pool, they think its sinful to promulgate a national identity that excludes the global South, and their social services are under increasing strain from increased immigration and lowered social trust.
    Economic man, whether ‘capitalist’ or ‘socialist’ and his permissive individualism must be first abolished in favour of more ancient values if we’re going to embark upon your program.

  99. mauisurfer says:

    interview with Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, published in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (German Economics Reports) on , March 9, 2015.
    DWN: Is Putin taking advantage of the conflict, to use the situation to present his own people with an external enemy?
    RS: No, I think that is a false argument. He doesn’t need this war. He has done everything to avoid it. The responsibility lies in Washington and Brussels. Putin has fantastic approval ratings. He successfully pulled of the Olympic Games in Sochi. What’s happening now is the last thing he needs. He is not a revisionist leader, and therefore the western reading of his handling is mostly all wrong.
    DWN: How do you explain the fact that throughout the West there is a completely closed view of the story, namely that it is Russian aggression — in spite of the fact that, through that intercepted phone call of US diplomat Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland, we have clear indication that Washington was actively involved in the overthrow of the Yanukovich regime?
    RS: I think the prevailing and utterly simple western view of the matter is the most unsettling aspect of the whole crisis. It is frightening to see how the public and the elites in the West have accepted this false viewpoint. It is always easy to put blame on Russia for everything. Russia is far from perfect, but it is for sure not the evil force that the West is now proclaiming. For me, it is also shocking to see how easily the western economic leadership have been led to this false reading.
    read the whole interview (translated into english) here:

  100. Jim Brooks says:

    Col. Lang, what happened May 1st down here in Texas caused me to realize that we won’t be doing anything other than fighting for the Saudis. They have woven their way deep inside corporate America and that is who’s interests our government protects first and foremost. “America’s largest oil refinery is now fully owned by Saudi Arabia”

  101. Ghostship says:

    From what I can make out the Russians are introducing the concept of cage fighting to modern warfare. The “moderates” in the de-escalation zones are supposed to fight the crazies with the SAA providing the virtual cage by manning the borders of the de-escalation zones.
    If the “moderates” defeat HTS then the “moderates” will be severely weakened or if as is more likely HTS defeats the “moderates”, then there’ll be no “moderates” left for the US/CIA/whoever to try to protect.
    If the “moderates” don’t fight the crazies, then that just shows that the “moderates” are really crazies.

  102. LG says:

    that map is so wrong. the abbasids were never in north africa at the time – the fatimids were, followed by salauddin ayyubi

  103. LG says:

    sorry that was a mistake. the abbasids los egypt in the 900s. what I meant that in the period indicated N Africa was not in their control throughout.

  104. mauisurfer says:

    well sure they make money (you mention), that is expected
    and they do seek to control resources such as oil (you mention) even though USA does not need the oil
    more than that, they get to sit at the head of the table, in the warm glow of power and prestige
    today i read that trump probably did not even consider putting THAAD in Korea, it was decided by USA military men in consultation with Korea politicians at crucial stage of Korea elections
    i went to school with the children of big brass, stayed in their homes as guest, and they were not humble people, they were not unconcerned about their status, quite the contrary
    they had no doubts about USA hegemony, they did not really consider its costs, and that is what got us Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, now Syria
    you are an unusual military man, because you do have doubts about USA hegemony
    unlike others such as McCain, you seem to seek to avoid war, to actually examine events from the perspective of adversaries
    maybe that is why you are not CJCS

  105. Christopher Fay says:

    In the Catholic church I infrequently go two Christians from Bethlehem selling their carvings after Mass basically said the Israeli Zionists are practicing ethnic cleansing. The Christian population in these middle-aged men had fallen from 25,000 to 2,500. And the Christians are lumped into the group the Palestinians making them easier to hate.

  106. LeaNder says:

    then Syria can be reconstituted along some vision of Ikhwan
    Babak, Ikhwan is a bit hard to wrap my head around. ‘Some vision of Ikhwan’?
    If I neglect the power aspect, or fighting aspect, could there be difference in the Islam law school or law tradition the former allies AKP and Gülen movement follow? Or do they adhere to the same legal tradition versus the Shia? …Sunni versus Shia in Turkey? Do both traditions have Sufi schools or only the Sunni?
    You may have explained before. What’s the core law source for Shia doctors? Yes, hard to remember without solid foundation or study.
    The AKP, or at least Tayyip, seems to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Vision? Some type of neo-Ottoman pan-Islamism? Hanbali?
    Last but not least, could you suggest scholars that can help me to get a glimpse on the history of the struggle between the Sunni and Shia over the ages.
    PS, the interview with Ali Shamkhani is interesting.

  107. LeaNder says:

    Pat, My response wasn’t meant to be disrespectful. I realized that the site you linked to was created by the late Michael Handel. …
    I shifted to the English translation. The German version only on first sight looked the same. The 1941 edition may have been edited. 1812/13 is an interesting year in Clausewitz’ bio. I didn’t know about that. To check the original would need more time.

  108. turcopolier says:

    Thank you. Handel would have been interested in the detail on the historiography of “On War.” try reading it for content. pl

  109. turcopolier says:

    Christopher Fay
    Interesting I have people in my family tre named “Christopher Fay.” I have spent a lot of time in bethlehem. Native Christians in the Holy Land ARE Palestinians. Israeli Jews are every bit as unpleasant to them as they are to Muslims. pl

  110. turcopolier says:

    I see. You are simply anti-military. This is personal for you. I am not interested in having you work out your childhood angst on SST. What happened? Did some general’s daughter turn you down? “This why you are not CJCS?” I was mighty pleased to be a colonel and expected no more than that. pl

  111. turcopolier says:

    “Moderates?” What “moderates?” However many of them may have once existed they are largely gone, killed or wounded out or fled to Europe. pl

  112. turcopolier says:

    “the western economic leadership” So, for you the “western economic leadership” runs the West. In what citadels of exalted brooding were you indoctrinated with all this economic determinism? pl

  113. Christopher Fay says:

    Monty for his thrusting wanted commade of the northern most U. S. army group and half of the next most northern U. S. army group. When the thereotical advanced slowed down, then he would have demanded commade of the other half of that army group, then start on the next.
    Larry Kart’s on the right cart. The British army was worn out. They could have cleaned up the Belgium port and held the flank while we let the Americans have a hack at it in the center and southern flank. U. S. troops already did some heavy work moving up Italy. That’s where Dole lost his arm.

  114. LondonBob says:

    Operation Plunder and the drive across Northern Germany in the aftermath was both how Operation Market Garden should have been planned, they obviously learnt their lessons, and how things were envisioned as panning out afterwards. Unfortunately errors were made in the planning and too many things that could go wrong did go wrong, Napoleon’s element of luck was lacking.
    The opportunity to exploit was there in the British sector whereas it wasn’t existing in the southern American sector of the front at that time. It was also easier to supply an Army positioned on the coast, as mentioned a successful would have opened up the port at Rotterdam in about the same time frame it would take to open up Antwerp.
    Actually I think that book I linked to above has a good description of the arguments around Operation Market Garden and the crossing of the Rhine.

  115. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In my view, the situation is much worse than that; the West has adjudicated among Muslims and has proceeded to act against the Party of Ali as the Muslim Enemy of the West.
    Even if that policy is abandoned forthwith & right now, its legacy will endure for decades.

  116. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not think that the distinction between Shia and Sunni is a matter of their corresponding legal schools.
    The word “Shia” is an abbreviation for the “Shia at un Ali” – the Party of Ali.
    The Ottomans, per the Seljuk Tradition, while not Shia, were Friends and Admirers of the Household of the Prophet. They reserved special admiration & respect and love for Fatma, Ali, and their children. Plaques bearing the names of Fatma, Ali, Hassan, and Hussein were for centuries present in Hagia Sofia.
    Gulen Movement, AKP, Ikhwan, and the revolutionary Muslims of Iran all have wanted the same things since the middle of 1800s; i.e. restoration of Muslim state power and ejection of the political & cultural influences of the non-Muslims from the historical lands of Islam.
    This process is not yet complete and will go for a few more centuries; in my opinion. And as I have written on this forum before, the intellectual foundations for such a renewal of Muslim Civilization does not exist outside of the Seljuk countries and then only robustly in Iran alone.
    Specifically about Erdogan, it is a mistake to think of him in terms of such made-up words as Noe-Ottomanism that are devoid of any analytical content. I think Erdogan is a pragmatic politician that would use any instrumentality to remain in power – be it Democracy, or Reconciliation with Kurds and so on.
    Erdogan’s roots do not encompass just Ikhwan but also the political ideas of Ozal and Menderes. Erdogan was the first Turkish leader who admitted the murder of Kurds by the Turksih state and initiated the process of reconciliation with Kurds, he solved the Hejab problem in Turkey (unlike in Iran, let us say), he helped expand Representative Government and the Rule of Law in Turkey, and Turkish economy expanded and improved during his premiership and presidency.
    I would venture to guess that Erdogan would want to resume his reconciliation with Kurds, if possible. It may not be possible if he continues his policies in Syria and in Iraq against the Party of Ali. (He evidently thinks that he can use Azeri Turks in Iran against the Iranian Government; neglecting the 35 million non-Turkic population of his own country – 15 million of them being of the Party of Ali.) Also, Kurds, who commit, collectively, the largest number of Honor Killings in Turkey, are poorly served by the maximalist and unreachable demands of their political representative like Demirtash.
    Erdogan also has been ill-served by the policies of his alliance members – NATO states as well as Gulfies against the expansion of Iranian power in Mesopotamia and in the Levant. He clicked his heals and saluted the flag (likely not too reluctantly) and the result is what we see. I think much had been promised to him and little was delivered; he looks very much like an embittered man.
    Erdogan may not be able to keep all of these balls in the air; he might cause a war with Iran which will shatter Turkey into 2 or 3 pieces – this depends also on what the NATO states do as well; do they want to continue with their Cold War against the Party of Ali?
    When I look at what is going on in Western Asia, all I see are organized attacks against the Party of Ali: in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iran, in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, and in Yemen.
    Analogous attacks have not yet materialized in Turkey or among the Persian Gulf States or in the Azerbaijan Republic but for how long can that be sustained?

  117. Alaric says:

    I don’t consider that an effective rebuttal. He is arguing that Putin doesn’t need a war that involves Russians to boost ratings. I argued that Putin is simply allowing US foreign policy blunders to play out and benefitting from them. He didn’t initiate it.
    He is providing Assad with enough resources to slowly take back vital territory but not enough to win or even stop the Balkanization of Syria. It kinda looks like a very half ass, barely committed strategy because it is but maybe there is a reason behind that. The alternative is that Putin has no spine and provides minimal if any support to protect his few allies and to stop a pipeline that will hurt Russia’s economy. That might be true but I think we’ve seen the opposite. Putin acts decisively (Crimea and Georgia) when needed so something is up here.

  118. Thomas says:

    “If they step up too far, our troops will not care that Americans’ armored (troops) are there. Out of nowhere, you’d see that maybe a few rockets hit them accidentally.””
    When making threats, it is best to be sure you can back it up to the end. Decimating your professional armed forces would give a wise man pause about this ability.
    “Çevik replied: “Well, if they (USA) do that, what else could we do?””
    And if Sultan Tayyip allowed this, what is to be done by Uncle Samuel? And considering Recep has effed over one and all, could there be a quiet global consensus to send him to the world beyond and blame it on Daesh? There would be a long line of volunteers for that task.

  119. lucopter says:

    What you are saying is correct, but you are ignoring the Shia Muslim’s role in all of this. You need to ask yourself, what is the purpose of the rigid anti-Israeli stance that the Iranian government has held since it came to power in 1979? Isn’t dangerous to keep antagonizing a country that has 400+ nukes and one that appears to have unrestricted control of a world superpower?
    It appears to me that two of the key characteristics of Shia Islam, mainly its drive towards idealism and sacrifice, are driving it towards a disaster and its putting the lives of all Shia Muslims around the world in danger. I really can’t fathom what the senior leadership in Iran are thinking about the long-term consequence of all of this. The world is full of injustice and its not the responsibility of one ethno/religious group to fix and amend all injustice.
    If the Jews have done wrong, they will eventually suffer. Jews have been expelled from 109 countries in the last 3000 years. They don’t have a good track record when it comes to long-term success. As matter of a fact, its possible that their current golden age might be coming to an end soon and lets hope the Iranians are smart enough to see it and stay out of the way of coming train wreck.
    Sometimes you win by staying out of the fight.

  120. Jony Kanuck says:

    Re: Syrian manpower; Patrick Cockburn has just written a column that sheds light on Syrian/Iraqi/Kurd manpower issues, along with some dark humour!

  121. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Bruce Riedel (sic. ?) set the number of Israeli weapons at 10 kiloton range weapons.
    So, when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, machine gunning women, children, old people, the Iranian leaders, unlike their counterparts among Arabs, Turks, Indonesians, Pakistanis and many others did not stand idly by. They did something.
    And they (the Israelis) started this; no one had put a gun to the head of Begin or Sharon to invade Lebanon. No one had prevented them from fully implementing the Camp David Accords. Any day now they can fly go to Ramallah and sign a deal with Palestinians and give them back their lands.
    Iranian leaders also provided shelter to Afghans (Sunni and Shia), Kurds, and Shia Arabs who fled to Iran; are you saying they should not have done so; because some powerful people would get angry?
    And all these attacks against Shia Muslims in Pakistan; should Iranian religious and government leaders ignore those too?
    Jews were never expelled from Iran and the Iranian Plateau has been the only place with continuous Jewish presence over the last 2500 years.
    The key characteristic of Shia Islam – which it shares with both Christianity and with Zoroastrianism – is the belief that God is Just; it is a principle of the Faith among the Shia. You are asking them to not be Shia Muslims.
    I would like to point out to you, in case you did not know, that it is only in Shia Islam that you can find delicacy of feeling and emotions expressed and experienced; it does not exist in the rest of Islam (it does exist in Christianity.)

  122. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The comments of “lucopter” caused me to post this by Ambassador Chas Freeman:

  123. LondonBob says:

    The last thing I will have to say on this is that you need to look up the Battles of Aachen and Hurtgen Forest to see why the opportunity to bypass the Siegfried Line wasn’t one to pass up.

  124. turcopolier says:

    Whoa! I am among those who thought M-G was a good plan poorly executed. pl

  125. LondonBob says:

    I know, wasn’t aimed at you, or aimed at anyone really. Just an important point that is oft forgotten when assessing M-G, the other options weren’t great and offered limited gains even if successful.

  126. turcopolier says:

    A recently deceased friend fought in the Hurtgen Forest. The infantry of the US divisions in there under all that tree burst artillery was basically wiped out, so, I’m with ya on tis. M-G was worth a try. pl

  127. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, for the work, Pundita. This was pretty helpful for me.
    Not least the Southfront article. Finally helped me to connect separate bits and pieces on my mind, I seem to have never been guite able to connect: Desert Hawks.

  128. lucopter says:

    Babak, I agree with you. I am not disputing the historical facts.
    I am just pointing out that given the current situation where there exists a huge disparity in power projection between Israel and Iran, does it make sense for Iran to keep this going, or would it be better for them to figure out a way to deescalate the situation?
    I guess one could argue that its not possible to deescalate because Israel doesn’t want it. Which is probably true. But Iran could score much bigger political victory by taking the first big step and recognizing the state of Israel.
    A nation’s policies shouldn’t be formulated with the goal of fighting injustice around the world. A nation’s foreign policy should be based on pragmatic approach that elevates the long-term preservation of the nation as the primary goal. One should not take actions that would put one’s nation at unnecessary risk.

  129. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    Like all US friend and allies – barring France and UK – Israel has little ability to project power beyond a few tens of kilometers outside of its border.
    Furthermore, over the last 2500, Yehud has not done anything against Iran (or what contemporary Iranians consider to have been Iran). Yehud will not do so now either.
    What Israelis would like to do is to have NATO attack Iran, and that task has been delegated to their co-coreligionists in US, UK, France as well as Shoah Cultists; to accomplish through their lies and propaganda.
    And if you are thinking of Israel using nuclear weapons against Iran; well, that would be their last act as a state as well as the death of US & Co. as a global political alliance.
    Furthermore, in my opinion, Iran does not need Israel. It is Israel that needs Iran to work its way back into the good graces of the World of Islam. Now, Israel leaders could fly to Tehran and negotiate the disposition of Palestine with Iranian leaders; they could put the transfer of Custodianship of the Al Haram Al Sharif to the Supreme Jurisprudent of Iran – that might get the Iranian leaders interested.
    Your last statement:
    “A nation’s foreign policy should be based on pragmatic approach that elevates the long-term preservation of the nation as the primary goal” is fine as far as it goes.
    But I do not think that any state or country save the United Kingdom has performed that feat over the last 600 years.
    And then we have the examples of Serbia, Iraq and Libya; enough said.

  130. Lurker says:

    Certainly, it looks like an entente between USA and Russia but UK, Israel and France who started this (with the Saudis) may not be excited about it. Another False Flag might be in the offing.

  131. turcopolier says:

    I have been thinking of the words “kraut” and “meister.” I suppose that “meister kraut” could be applied to people like; Goethe, Schiller, Mendelssohn, von Rundstedt while “kraut meister” might be someone who makes a great “choucroute?” Speaking of that a French lady friend of ours in Sanaa whipped up a grea choucroute once based on supplies I bought from the supply officer of a visiting US naval vessel and the usual sauerkraut. Sanaa is at about 8,000 feet in altitude. We had all had a few drinks and blew up like balloons. She could also produce a marvelous leg of lamb, redolent of rosemary, thyme, etc. this was entitled “Gigot de Janine.” She it was who announced one day that I would just start speaking French the way a little child does from constant exposure, and so it was. pl

  132. LeaNder says:

    It is an interesting study. I wouldn’t have thought, admittedly.
    He was rather contemptuous of military academic training as in staff colleges, writing that it was a poor substitute for actual experience
    Already in the introduction he makes it quite clear that his study rests on two pillars his experience and the more academic study of war at his time. He seems to be challenging the writing on the military of his time, but he does it quite slyly.

  133. LeaNder says:

    And considering Recep has effed over one and all, could there be a quiet global consensus to send him to the world beyond and blame it on Daesh?
    Interesting. Who would be in and who would be out of such a global consensus?
    To the extend this can be understood at all out of the whole context, concerning the equation between PKK and Daesh, what is the hard evidence that acts of terrorism in Turkey were committed by PKK fighters who leaked out of Northern Syria into Turkey? How is the state of affairs between the Kurds in Turkey and the Turkish military?

  134. LeaNder says:

    Yehud=Yehud Medinata?
    they could put the transfer of Custodianship of the Al Haram Al Sharif to the Supreme Jurisprudent of Iran – that might get the Iranian leaders interested.
    Ooops. …

  135. LeaNder says:

    The French are called frogs, aren’t they? Since they eat frog legs, I guess. My grandpa wanted to introduce me to them as kid, but I opted out after having watched them kicking in the pan while they were salted. Gave the impression they were still somehow living. Since my grand pa is gone, frog legs are gone too. Never ate them after, but everyone tried to convince me how tasty they are.
    I always wondered if choucroute is purely Alsatian, but maybe it isn’t. Anyway a friend of mine had it sent to London. He missed it. Maybe he can get it now.
    Once I stumbled across a remark about the Polish community in America. Their reheated cabbage seems to have been hard for the delicate American nose, or maybe even cabbage more generally. Anyway, my father, who turns blind, makes him even more difficult to deal with, loves it most if it is reheated, or cooked twice. 😉

  136. turcopolier says:

    Janine was from Lorraine which is pretty close to Alsace. pl

  137. Thomas says:

    “Interesting. Who would be in and who would be out of such a global consensus?”
    The out camp would be the Muslim Brotherhood, some of the West Coast Gulfies (it depends if their personal hatred towards Recep overrides the strategic game playing) and individual bit players with influence on the Sultan not wanting to lose their privileged access. In camp is all others.
    How is the state of affairs between the Kurds in Turkey and the Turkish military?
    Low intensity civil war.

  138. fanto says:

    you made very good replies to lucopter. Thank you. It seemed to me from the beginning of his entries that he is a clever troll pushing pro izzy agenda.

  139. LeaNder says:

    “West Coast Gulfies”?
    Apart from the US, triggered by the “West Coast” part, there is only the Persian Gulf left.

  140. LondonBob says:

    Elijah Magnier saying there will be an airborne element to the DEZ push. Following on from the Market Garden discussion lets hope the planners emulate the likes of ‘Windy’ Gale rather than the incompetents of Brereton, Browning and Urquhart.

  141. YT says:

    This pagan Chink bids you: Happy Mothers’ Day.
    “Love is patient and kind.
    Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
    It does not demand its own way.
    It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
    It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
    Love never gives up,never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
    – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
    (My 68 year-old mother suffers from glaucoma, so I understand your frustrations…)

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