“[Northern] Syrian War Report – March 8, 2017” – TTG


“The Syrian army’s Tiger Forces, backed by Russian warplanes, reached the Euphrates River in the province of Aleppo, liberating a large chunk of the area from ISIS. The town of Khafsah and the nearby Water Treatment Station were the most important gains. The liberation of the Khafsah Water Treatment Station will allow the Assad government to restore water supplies to the city of Aleppo which had been disrupted when ISIS terrorists damaged the station.

The ISIS-held Jihar Military Airbase will likely become the next target in the province. While the airbase has a strategic value itself, controlling this site government forces will de-facto encircle the ISIS stronghold of Deir Hafer. This will allow to successfully retake this town from the terrorist group soon.

Russian and US military servicemen closely cooperate in the outskirts of the city of Manbij controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Times reported. According to spokesman for the Pentagon, Jeff Davis, the both forces know about the location of each other in the area but have no desire to enter into a conflict with someone other than ISIS terrorists.

Syrian troops and some Russian military servicemen entered a number of villages west of Manbij, but the official list of these villages remains unclear. Photos show servicemen of the Russian Military Police near Manbij are also available online.”  (South Front)



Soon after South Front put out this report, they issued an update that the Tiger Forces extended their gains south along the shore of Lake Assad and outflanked Jihar Airbase. Those forces were reportedly storming the Airbase this morning.

In other news the 1/4 Marines are establishing a firebase to support the YPG/SDF assault on Raqqa with a battery of 155 howitzers. The Stryker IAVs rolling around Manbij flying American flags are elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment. That’s quite a collection of forces in a small area with the SAA, Russians, Special Forces, Rangers and Marines all in support of the YPG/SDF and MMC. I bet there’s some Brits (SAS?) and Frenchmen (2e REP?) in there , too. I’d give my left nut to be young again and be rubbing shoulders with the lot of them.






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90 Responses to “[Northern] Syrian War Report – March 8, 2017” – TTG

  1. turcopolier says:

    Still have both in operating condition? Good! Me too. Airborne!. pl

  2. mike says:

    TTG –
    3/75 according to sofrep:
    Also, last year there was an Army HIMARS unit in Turkey and one in Jordan. Both struck Daesh targets in Syria. But Raqqa targets would be a skosh too far for them unless they move closer in. Don’t know if they are still there, they may have been moved into Iraq for the Mosul op. With a vertical fall capability they have a pinpoint accuracy for targets in urban defilade between buildings. Much better than the M777s or air dropped PGMs.

  3. Peter AU says:

    Re HIMARS in Syria. According to this WP report they have been there some time
    “Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. general overseeing the campaign against the Islamic State, has previously said that a small number of conventional soldiers have supported Special Operations troops on the ground in Syria, including through a truck-mounted system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS. The defense official with knowledge of the deployment said Wednesday that the Marines and their Howitzers will supplement, rather than replace, those Army units.”

  4. jonst says:

    Do I have this right? The Marines are there, or, American military personal, are there under this Authorization?
    A document drafted in response to the 9/11 attacks, over 15 years ago? That is some Authorization, I’d say.

  5. aleksandar says:

    Maybe not 2REP but 1 RPIMA or/and 13 RDP, both under COS (SOC) command.

  6. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, TTG.
    Aware I am way too far ahead with my concentration on the last paragraph.
    Ahrar Al-Sham and Tahrir Al-Sham reached a ceasefire deal which is aimed to end the infighting between rival terrorist factions in Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The sides have to remove the recently created checkpoints and to release fighters captured in clashes. The groups are also creating a joint body to coordinate military actions against government forces.

  7. turcopolier says:

    It is clear that Russian desire for cooperation with the US and trump’s desire to drive IS into the ground is causing major changes in the orientation and scope of US/Russian coordination. IMO that is a good thing. Amusingly the usual “Sands of Iwo Jima”/Halls of Montezuma bullshit is re-asserting itself in the media. the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment is all over the Manbij area but all people like Varney on Fox Business are only interested in one six gun battery of USMC 155mm howitzers which have been brought into the Raqqa fight. Varney had congressman Duncan Hunter, a former USMC artillery officer, on his show today. Hunter asserted that USMC artillery is better than Army artillery and Varney sucked that up. Fact: The USMC has no artillery school. ALL USMC artillerists are trained at the Army artillery school at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Fact: The M777 howitzers the USMC artillery has in Syria are Army developed and are Army standard weapons. pl

  8. rjh says:

    I know that you’ve been arguing for the politically oriented IdLib solution. The past two months, and likely the next few, R+6 are concentrating on lines of communication.
    Compare this eastern Alleppo push with the location of canals, water supply, and water treatment. January had fighting to secure the water supply of Damascus. I expect soon a fight to clear threats to the two major Aleppo airports.
    Much of the clearance of villages and pockets seems to be prioritized by whether they can block or harass roads or airports. The Palmyra push should restore natural gas supply somewhat.
    All of this reflects an operational shift to removing threats to military and commercial loc. I think this is based on the opinion that as ISIS and the jihadis feel more threatened, they will shift to targetting supply lines and civilians because they can’t win and hold territory. Step one in this is to move the hostiles beyond artillery range of the loc.

  9. mike says:

    Colonel –
    M777 design was originally by Vickers, a British firm. Big Army was against it at the time as they were still in love with self-propelled guns and wanted a replacement for the M198. It was a few Army officers from the Airborne community and the 10th Mountain Division plus the Marines that pushed for the M777.

  10. mike says:

    PS – Development and production of the M777 was done by a Joint Army/Marine Program Office. Operational testing was done at MCAGCC 29 Palms, not at Ft Sill. That joint program continues today for upgrades.

  11. Colonel – might I put a query to you and to your committee? I came across these two links on a pro-Syrian site, though the articles linked to are not pro-Syrian. I should add that I don’t at all trust Spiegel since on other subjects I have found it to be tendentious or sometimes misleading.
    There was some reference made after the relief of East Aleppo to Russian forces policing the city in order to stop looting. Nevertheless it’s a long way from that to asserting that areas held by the Syrian government are in truth under the control of rogue militias. Could I ask, is there any basis to the statements made in the articles linked to, or are these articles merely hit pieces?
    In the past such pieces have been constructed from information supplied by official Western sources, some said to be based in Syria, some closer to home, and have closely reflected the line official sources wish to get across to the public. Spiegel in particular has mirrored pretty faithfully the official line. These articles are recent. They do therefore indicate that the official line has not changed since Trump’s inauguration. It is still supportive of the forces opposing Assad.
    Does this indicate that there are now two contrary Western approaches to the war in Syria, (1) that the main objective is to defeat the Jihadis, no matter how and no matter who co-operates with whom, or (2) that the main objective is still to support the opposition to Assad?
    no matter who has to co-operate wit , some said to be based in Syria but and some

  12. English Outsider,
    The article at your first link is an opinion piece strongly pushing the notion that Assad must go along with all Iranian influence in Syria. The reasoning offered is that the Assad government is in a tough position and needs foreign assistance in its fight against the jihadis. I consider it an idiotic notion that removing Assad and his allies would do nothing less than hand over the whole region to the jihadis and their Gulfie backers. Whether this notion is still held by the Trump administration is not known. They clearly want IS destroyed, but I don’t know if they can get over their intense animosity towards Iran. Their continued sucking up to the Saudis is troubling.
    The second article also points out that things are tough in Syria. I think it’s a realistic view of what happens in a war zone. Militias and criminal elements flourish when government forces are busy fighting the bigger threat. Addressing internal security is something that can’t be ignored while the major fight against the jihadis continues. It’s why Russian military police are in Aleppo. It’s why Special Forces are assisting local police in Manbij. This is why I think the demobilization phase is the most important phase of a US sponsored resistance movement. Unless you succeed here, all is for naught.

  13. Fred says:

    If they starting winning then the neverTrump crowd might just do something about the AMUF.

  14. mike says:

    PPS – However, I do agree with you that Congressman Hunter and Fox News are dumber than rocks.

  15. turcopolier says:

    In the end the Army sponsored the M777. pl

  16. turcopolier says:

    War is about the total environment in which control of territory and population is a key factor. I continue to the think that the eastern thrust is the “politically” motivated one and is largely motivated by Russian desire to cooperate with the US. Once again, if Idlib Province is not cleared of jihadi rebels this cancer may kill the Syrian state. pl

  17. turcopolier says:

    Have you ever been to an Army service school? pl

  18. ToivoS says:

    The new deployment of a few hundred US marines and their artillery to help capture Raqqa in the next few weeks seems to part of a plan that began last fall. Could that be a poison pill Obama left behind as a present for Trump? The assault will be coming from the north of Raqqa.
    Also it looks like the SAA is moving towards Raqqa from the south according to the latest Southfront report. How many weeks will that take?
    This situation looks extremely dangerous. Is this a race for the city? What happens if the two forces arrive at the same time? Has the US and Russia come to some kind of agreement on how to coordinate these two approaching forces and have they agreed on some division of territory? What could possibly go wrong?

  19. Many thanks for your reply. Your reply puts the Spiegel article in perspective, a perspective I find lacking in the article itself. On the wider picture, when you say “Whether this notion is still held by the Trump administration is not known”, at least you’re not having to write ” – this notion is still held by the Clinton administration.” Early days yet, I suppose, for finding out how much things will change, particularly since the transition this time around seems more fraught than usual. I shall stay hopeful and to those of my friends who use “Drain the swamp” as their standard greeting I shall propose “The Decline and Fall of the Neo-cons” as a standard toast.

  20. mike says:

    Colonel –
    While serving I went to service schools on Army, Navy and Air Force bases. Many Marine MOSs are trained in schools of other services. Why reinvent the wheel, or double-tap the taxpayer?
    In the Army schools that I attended in addition to Army instructors they also had Marine instructors in teaching positions. A good friend of mine now long retired had such a job teaching both Soldiers and Marines. They were a minority for sure, but still there.

  21. The Beaver says:

    Poor Nikki
    ‘we need to get Iran’ out of Syria
    And the pro-Bibi Israelis are running with that in their rags

  22. The Beaver says:

    @ Toivos
    SDF are already within 20km of Raqqa City’s eastern gates after liberating the town Al-Kayjla with the help of the coalition airstrikes this morning
    Plus the road between Raqqa and Deir-Ezzor was cut by SDF on Monday

  23. turcopolier says:

    Does USMC have an armor school or do they all go to the Army armor school at Ft. Knox? What was your MOS? I forget, if I knew. There were USMC students in most service schools I attended, many fewer USAF and US Navy. OK. The M777 is a joint Army and USMC project. The gun is a fine weapon but as instrument of land mass warfare it would be much more vulnerable to counterbattery fire than a fully armored SP piece. What enemy would that be? I am not in favor of “betting the ranch” on anyone’s crystal ball. pl

  24. ToivoS says:

    The road between Raqqa and Deir-Ezzor runs east of Raqqa. The SAA forces are moving along the road along the south shore of Lake Assad that runs west of Raqqa. This does not change what I said above.

  25. So that’s how it’s done. Yes, that’s the Spiegel we know and love. I’ve read claims that it used to march in lockstep with the Economist and the NYT, but my eyes usually glaze over half way through a Spiegel article so I’ve seldom stayed the course long enough to check the claim out. Certainly the latest offerings from the Triumvirate that I could find, though maybe demonstrating a common tone, don’t seem to me to share a common theme. Wikileaks will no doubt clear all that up when it gets round to it.
    On imposing free and fair elections on Syria I must respectfully disagree. 1) It’s an unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign state and there’s been a tragic amount of that already and 2) I’ve never seen a free and fair election. Setting on one side the increasingly common allegations of straight voting fraud in many Western elections, there are perfectly legal ways of restricting voter choice that render elections anything but free and fair. As the Chinese sometimes point out when they’re responding to criticisms of their own political system, yes, the Western voter gets to choose what he wants from the menu but he doesn’t often get to choose the menu.
    The very best we can hope for is that the killing will stop, that, as you say, order will be restored (the Russians seem to be quietly insistent on that), and that the Syrians will be left alone to rebuild their shattered country. Presumably elections will be part of that but we shouldn’t charge in yet again and dictate to them how they should do it. So I would, as I say, respectfully disagree with you on that point.
    Thank you for your reply, which makes it clear that there is indeed a problem. From what you say, and from what TTG says above, it does seem that even in the recovered areas there’d be a long way to go before the Syrians could hope to get back to normal.

  26. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Fort Knox – again why reinvent the wheel and screw the taxpayer? I did not mean to imply that Navy & AF went to Army schools, only that the Marine Corps utilized schools from all three services when agreements were in place.
    Agree on not betting the ranch. SPGs have their place with armored divisions, but their limited mobility both tactical and global reduce their other advantages. As I mentioned above I am a fan of HIMARS, which was an Army program. They have half the weight and double the range of those tracked SPG dinosaurs.

  27. Fool says:

    Ironically, after identifying “classic propaganda structure,” you then made an iteration of that very structure…
    “I am confident that once (hopefully) the Jihadists are roundly defeated Assad will have little trouble reasserting control over the country. The country is not tribal – the people feel strong allegiance to the country as a whole.”
    Yes, the jihadis are nearing defeat. Yes, one would expect Assad to reassert control as the country strives to rebuild. But no, the nationalistic notion that the Syrian people “feel strong allegiance to the country as a whole” is false.
    Everyone, it seems, claims to speak for the whole Syrian people.

  28. mike says:

    TTG –
    Russian troops in Manbij dancing with Kurds and Arabs. Probably Chechen or from the Caucasus as ANNA news is from Abkhazia.

  29. The Beaver says:

    Being kept out of Manbij by both the US and Russia, now Turkey is on her high horse once again:
    the U.S. has been sending signals that it is inclined to rely on the Kurdish forces, who have proven the most effective local force at battling IS. U.S. officials have said that Turkey, which has troops in Syria and is aiding other Syrian opposition fighters, has thus far failed to show that it has a force sufficiently large and capable to liberate Raqqa, the largest remaining IS stronghold.
    As far as Jarablus and al-Bab, we know how they’ve managed to “liberate” them only after ISIS left those places !!!

  30. turcopolier says:

    If so worried about duplication and taxpayer suffering, why does the USMC have the Marine Corps University at Quantico. This institution duplicates the Army War College, the US Army Command and General Staff College and the second year course at Ft Leavenworth (the Jedi Knights Program). The numbers at Quantico must be quite small. Is that efficient? pl

  31. mike says:

    Colonel –
    The Command & Staff College at Quantico may use a small number of subjects similar to the Army CGSC but by no means does it duplicate the curriculum. And in no way does it duplicate the Army War College. The Naval War College, which BTW quite a few Army officers have attended, and the Air War College may be what of you are thinking. But even there the course of studies are different. Same with the National War College.
    The numbers are supplemented by many international students. Even so the numbers are still small but so are the staff.

  32. mike says:

    PS – Although I do agree that the Cyber courses taught at Quantico are wasteful. Same same with cyber courses taught at Army, Navy, and AF schools. What is wrong with a single DOD cyber school. There could be instructors from all services to cover service-unique requirements.

  33. turcopolier says:

    War is war. Tell me how the curricula differ, Surely you don’t think that here will be major amphib operations in the future. Even if there were, conducting amphib operations are not all that difficult. I was trained at the amphib officer school run by USMC. Not all that hard to learn how to load ships. In any event most of the really big amphib operations in WW2; Normandy, Southern France, Salerno, Anzio, 1944 Philippines Campaign, Macarthur’s landings on the New Guinea coast, etc. were run by the Army without USMC present. IMO the USMC wants to be a separate army for the US and this is a waste. The two services should be united. pl

  34. mike says:

    Colonel –
    No amhib ops in the future? That is what the Brits and the US Army said after Gallipoli. And again what Omar Bradley said when he was Army C/S in 48. They were proved wrong. Salerno and Anzio were disastrously planned by 5th Army with no USMC input. There were Marine staff officers in on the planning of Normandy. Most of what the Army learned of amphib ops for the WW2 Euro landings were taught to them by PHIBLANT (Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet). PHIBLANT trained 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions long prior to that war. Plus the Marines trained many other Army divisions just prior to and after Pearl Harbor. And they trained many Army officers including MacArthur’s go-to general for amphib ops in the Pacific, 6th Army Commander General Walter Krueger.
    Unite the services? That is what Harry Truman wanted to do. Tell it to Congress!
    Combat loading of ships? If you think that is the end-all of amphibious ops I suspect you were asleep during class except for the S4/G4 sessions.

  35. b says:

    On the Spiegel piece:
    It cites the Qatari/Saudi mouthpiece Charles Lister claiming that the Syrian army has only 6,000 men capable of fighting!
    It claims that the Tiger force is an irregular unit, not part of the army!
    On the “local warlords”:
    These are local forces meagerly paid by the government and originally set up by Iran to control their local areas so no Jihdis infiltrate and cause trouble. Sometimes these local bigwigs get a bit greedy and feisty. Manning a checkpoint with weapons at hand does that to some folks.
    The people then go the higher government and tell of their grievances. An army officer comes by and sets the local force straight. That tough talk may work or not. When trouble reoccurs the local gang gets drafted into the real army and send to the front, its boss goes to jail. This has already happened more then once.
    These local forces have no big weapons and no one to back them up. Government forces could trash them any day. When calmer times come and more government forces are available they will be integrated or send home.
    It is as simple as that.
    The SPIEGEL piece could have been written any day between mid 2012 and now. It would have been wrong then as much as it is now.

  36. Might I query this statement in your comment? – ” But no, the nationalistic notion that the Syrian people “feel strong allegiance to the country as a whole” is false.”
    I have read explanations, on this site in particular, that Syria is in part a patchwork of different tribes whose allegiance goes no further than their local boundary. It’s also in its present form a post-colonial creation whose borders don’t correspond well with ethnic, sectarian or historical reality. It’s obviously, therefore, not a nation state that has developed organically and has been welded together in the course of that development.
    Might there not, however, be a parallel with what has happened in the Donbas? Pre-coup, although the Ukraine was split many ways and there was a good deal of mutual dislike or resentment, there was with the exception of the Crimea no great appetite in the Ukraine for separation. The survey showing that seemed to be carefully done. Even after the coup it was federalism that was sought for the Donbas, not separation. After the ATO the Novorossians as they were then termed hardened their views considerably. Many of the inhabitants of the Peoples Republics have arrived at the view that they might as well die keeping the Neo-Nazis out because they’ll probably die if they don’t. A war of survival is a great promoter of unity. Whatever face-saving arrangements are made, it’s unlikely that they will ever be part of a unitary Ukraine again. It would take brutal force to make them so.
    The reality or the threat of Jihadi occupation has similarly been a strong incentive for the inhabitants of that Syrian patchwork to give their allegiance to a central authority. From the reports of the few neutral observers who have travelled the country it seems that a stronger national identity has been forged by the war and that that identity will hold the country together if it survives. Even the strongly tribal areas in the East, and Sunni at that, have had more than enough of Jihadi occupation if the reports are at all true.
    The Israeli politician who said that it was more to the Israelis’ advantage to keep Syria disunited than for it to be at peace saw this clearly. He had good reason for wishing to see Daesh hold its own. If Syria does recover as a nation there will be many of its inhabitants who will indeed feel “strong allegiance to the country as a whole”. Anyone would, if it kept them safe from the Jihadis. Speaking figuratively, in trying to do a Libya on the country we may therefore have done a Donbas on it. It that is so then the Syrian people themselves will “speak for the Syrian people”; and after what we’ve put them through, we may not like all that much what they have to say.

  37. hemeantwell says:

    Well said on the matter of questionable elections and viable hopes. There are more than a few on the left in the US that agree and accordingly find this site and its contributors very helpful.

  38. turcopolier says:

    Disaster? We won WW2. IMO, you marines are living in a dream. pl

  39. mike,
    I agree that the Marines should be the amphibious warfare “center of excellence” for the DOD. To lose that knowledge and capability would be as negligent as losing the Army’s ability to conduct large scale mechanized maneuver warfare. There should be enough of you jarheads to man the floats in existence on a continuous basis, protect the embassies and do all the things the Navy needs. To do all this and nothing more, I do think the Marines could be reduced in size by half to two thirds.
    I often have these good natured debates with my father, a former Marine. It’s more a source of mutual amusement for us both than anything more serious. While in the 25th Division, we trained in amphibious operations with the Marines at Kaneohe. I thoroughly enjoyed our training deployment aboard the USS Cleveland to the Philippines. Throughout my tour in Hawaii, we often served as aggressor forces in each others field exercises. They’d sometimes end in bloody fistfights, but it all good for morale. My rifle platoon was full of big, meaty Samoans, Tongans, blacks built like linebackers and mean little Mexicans who fought dirty and hard. We were always chosen as the DLIC left to hold off the jarheads. Artillery simulators kept them at bay for a while. Eventually there’d be fistfights and wrestling matches in the tropic darkness. God, I loved it. I think the jarheads loved it, too.

  40. Tyler says:

    Seriously. If you’re worried about taxpayers why the hell do the Marines have a fixed wing air branch other than MY GRANDADDY FLEW CRUSADERS or whatever. USMC doctrine relies on a boutique aircraft that can’t support CAS and has a habit of killing its pilots.

  41. turcopolier says:

    OK. You loved it. So what? What excuse is there for maintaining a separate army for the US? They merely want to supplant the Army as the primary ground force of the us. All else is bullshit. If they did not want that they would not have their senior service schools at Quantico. pl

  42. Joe100 says:

    Col Lang –
    Just curious about where and when you did the USMC amphib school? Was it what was probably called at that time “Junior School” in Quantico or something else?

  43. pl,
    The Marines shouldn’t be a separate army for the US. As far as I’m concerned, they should stay within a day’s march of the sea or in the embassy grounds. Three brigades should be plenty for that allowing for reasonable rotation. They don’t need three over-sized divisions plus a reserve division.

  44. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Your notion that the Marines want to supplant the Army as the primary ground force is pure BS. Where did you dream that up? We know our limitations. I think you have the Harry Truman syndrome, he would be cheering you on. He tried hard to get rid of us jarheads (may he rot in hell), but was stymied by a small handful of LtCols. He wanted to do away with the Navy also.
    You say war is war so the Marines should go to the Army War College (BTW many do). And many go to the Naval War College and the Air War College. And if war is war, why do we still maintain a War College for the Navy and Air Force. Do you want the Army to take over those curricula also?
    Or do you want the US military to be like the Chinese, with the People’s Liberation Army running the Navy and the Air Force?
    Army pre-eminence over the other services was a fault of the Wehrmacht in WW2. The Heer dominated, so the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine suffered, everything they did had to be in sync with Army plans and strategies rather than with a national strategy.

  45. mike says:

    Thanks for that story TTG –
    We had a lot of Samoans in the Corps also. Big guys and great troops! All the ones I knew claimed to have a blood connection to the old line of Samoan princes.

  46. mike says:

    TTG –
    Interesting that your father was a Marine and yet you went Army. I was just the opposite. My father fought in North Africa and Italy with the Army, my grandfather and a great-uncle were Army in France in 1918. Yet I went to the Marine Corps.

  47. mike says:

    Tyler –
    You want to depend on the Air Force for CAS? Good luck with that. They hate that mission. You can never get to be an Ace fighter pilot by doing CAS. They prefer the Rickenbacker dogfight thing and a white scarf (just kidding about the scarf Andy!).
    Boutique aircraft? Are you referring to VSTOL? It is the wave of the future unless you want to keep depending on 10,000 foot runways vacuumed daily for FOD.

  48. robt willmann says:

    I have been guessing recently that since Trump made such a big production out of ISIS and going after them during the presidential campaign, it is the reason for the sudden focus on Raqqa. Trump’s way of thinking is to go for the Big Score, and since Raqqa is the main crib for ISIS in Syria, if they can be kicked out of there, Trump will consider the show to be a success, and will certainly trumpet it as such.
    He has obviously authorized new U.S. military activity — legal or not — in that area of Syria and has ordered some degree of cooperation (or maybe a lot of cooperation) with Russia in that endeavor. Russia does not want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and so is glad to go along with the new U.S. activity as long as it is not a ploy for the U.S. to occupy that area for a long time. Even though consolidating and smoothing out the western part of Syria seemed to be the main (and a sensible) focus of R+6, to make it kind of a limited R+7 takes some of the expense off of Russia and spreads out the risk. And as has occurred, a side benefit is that clearing that area some helps Aleppo on its east side.

  49. LeaNder says:

    Picking up on mike above:
    Most of what the Army learned of amphib ops for the WW2 Euro landings were taught to them by PHIBLANT (Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet).
    I watched a documentary about the USS Texas not too long ago. Part of her history.
    Somewhat helpful reminder of the difference between the US Navy and Marines. I don’t think we have the equivalent of Marines.

  50. Peter Reichard says:

    The Marine aviator and grunt still share a kind of solidarity that was lost when the Army Air Corps morphed into the Air Force. USAF thinks the CAS mission is the least effective use of air power but for Marine Air it is paramount. I’m with the USMC on this one, tactical air should be subordinate to the ground commander. The Army should have the CAS mission and the A-10.

  51. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, TTG.
    I think one has to consider the article is written in feature style. it makes no bones about the fact it is a partial impression.
    Besides it may not make sense to equate the author with Der Spiegel. He seems to have published much more in DIE Zeit. At least at this point in time he is working for an agency, assuming the agency takes care were his articles are sold. Interesting for me is his age. Could it be that 9/11 had to do with his choice of what he studied?
    He more or less stumbles across subjects. Contacts in the region, matters that raise his attention since he accidentally knows the context, like a school in Egypt. I didn’t look closely but it may be that the story he got the CNN award for was that school. In an interview he said a Prof, Egyptian I suppose, who at the same time told him she wasn’t religious, once made him aware of a Salafist school sponsored by the Saudis. On the surface it teaches Arabic, but apparently not just that. Islamism has surely caught his attention. (German article)
    Asked what journalist he admires he says: Robert Fisk. That’s not the worst of all choices, it feels.
    Beyond that he cooperated with Tobias Schneider, who surfaces as Security Expert mentioned in a recent article by Cicero (German) along the same theme. Assad doesn’t have an army anymore:
    Here an English article from War on the Rocks by Schneider:
    Tobias Schneider is a recent graduate of Johns Hopkins SAIS and a freelance defense analyst focused on Middle Eastern militaries. He has spent years, both inside and outside the Levant, closely tracking dynamics among regime and loyalist forces and their allies in Syria.
    His twitter account:

  52. Eric Newhill says:

    After 9/11, while the Army was still looking at mountains of empty connex boxes and forming committees to discus forming committees on formulating the TO&E for the Afghanistan mission and scratching their heads about to even get into the country, the Marines had already landed, established forward operating bases and begun to engage the enemy.
    The US needs such expeditionary forces. Maybe not 200K strong, though.

  53. turcopolier says:

    Eric Newhill
    Actually USSF (Army) was in the country working with the Afghans before any marines arrived. Do you happen to remember the Army airborne battalion sized parachute raid at the beginning of the war? Yes, the marines were there early but they brought hardly anything with them. I remember shaking my head at the sight of marine infantry standing in knee deep trenched at Bagram. They don’t seem to know how to dig. And if you comment on that they say they are “assault troop.” In fact, in war the spade is as mighty as the gun. 200k – bigger that the regular British and Canadian armies. I have repeatedly said here that the regular ground forces of the US (both army and marines) should be massively reduced in size to match likely future engagements of forces in expeditionary mode.pl

  54. LeaNder says:

    It cites the Qatari/Saudi mouthpiece Charles Lister claiming that the Syrian army has only 6,000 men capable of fighting!
    It claims that the Tiger force is an irregular unit, not part of the army!

    b, why don’t you contact him and give him a hint that he is on the wrong track ideologically? Seems you can contact him via his “Agentur”.

  55. turcopolier says:

    OK The Army teaches the marines to use tanks and artillery and what else? Do they have Engineer and Signal schools? And they run a school where I (among others)learned to load ships for various purposes in an amphib operation. It is not difficult. I could teach you to do it. You have German “clarity.” Bottom line – we don’t need so many soldiers and marines. BTW, USMC is the Navy Department’s army. Ah I found the answer to my question above “The Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri hosts the largest United States Marine Corps detachment outside a Marine Corps base. With over 1200 students and support personnel, Ft Leonard Wood hosts Marines training at the Motor Transport Instruction School, Military Police Instruction School, Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Defense School and the Engineer Equipment Instruction School.” Ft. Leonard Wood is a US Army installation. These are all Army schools. pl

  56. turcopolier says:

    “Tell it to Congress!” Yes, USMC’s greatest triumph has been the cultivation of Congressmen. The Israeli lobby and the Marine lobby are equally effective. “A group of of Lt. Colonels?” Are they the people who successfully BSd the Congress to defeat Truman’s plans for you? I never sleep in class and was first ranked in the course. pl

  57. Chris Chuba says:

    At the risk of beating this topic to death, digging it up, and then burying it again, Tobias Schneider wrote a nearly identical column about 6 mo’s ago https://warontherocks.com/2016/08/the-decay-of-the-syrian-regime-is-much-worse-than-you-think/
    Are elements of it true, I’m certain that the answer is yes but you have to ask, what’s the alternative, what’s it like the territory held by our western backed rebels or their allies?
    I bet that the best day in Idlib is worse then any in the now liberated Aleppo or any part of Syria held by the govt.

  58. LeaNder says:

    sorry, babbling alert, I guess. I get it. Sorry. Fascinating documentary never the less.

  59. turcopolier says:

    Marines are wonderful. Everyone should have some. I am just pulling Mike’s leg. Like a lot of Marines he is easy to provoke. I don’t think Germany ever had anything like Marines but paraphrasing WRC, I could be wrong. But, just to provoke a bit more, an amphibious landing is very much like an opposed river crossing except for loading the ships. pl

  60. Joe100 says:

    Col Lang/TTG –
    Some thoughts on the Marines:
    1. What have they done since the mid 1960s – ground wars in RVN, Irag and Afghanistan. Has there been any substantial differences in USMC missions in these wars relative to Army units? I don’t think so..
    2. USMC has a fixed wing “air force” but is helicopter light (or at least it was in RVN). Marines needed/wanted to retain control of such support (for good reasons), although as I recall in the 7th Air Force vs. USMC fight about this, I think 7th Air Force won out in the end) post Khe Sanh?
    3. In Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book “Little America” (a rather depressing but highly recommended read) – covering the year of Obama’s “surge”, I was surprised to find that the Marines had managed to be placed directly under Central Command and did not report to the in country command (Petreous, etc.) vs. RVN where the Marines reported through III MAF/I Corps to MAC-V (Westmorland). Chandrasekaran also noted that in his view the apparent objective of the Marine commanding general at the time was to demonstrate how well his Marine’s could fight vs. how best to achieve US objectives in Afghanistan at the time with his Marines.
    4. The USMC V/STOL requirement for the F-35 appears to have substantially compromised the Navy and Air Force models due to the wide fuselage “box” needed for the lift fan.
    5. Do the Marines really need the F-35 and if so can it be practically maintained in an environment that would require V/STOL capability? Would something like a modern “A-10” be much more practical and useful?
    If it were it possible to conduct a thoughtful and non-political review of US military force structure, it would seem that rethinking the USMC would be a relevant part of such an exercise and that some substantial changes would result.

  61. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Actually that group of lieutenant colonels only initiated the pushback against Truman’s gutting of all the armed forces except for air power. It finally took the “Revolt of the Admirals” to convince the country and congress that Truman and SecDef Louis Johnson’s aggrandizement of strategic nuclear bombing was not the way to go. It took those admirals to show that Douhet’s theories (of relegating ground and sea forces hollow and of little significance) were nonsense. I believe Douhet was one of Mussolini’s guys, it appears his politics were as asinine as his theories of war.
    So you can thank those admirals and lieutenant colonels. They kept Truman from breaking up the Army as well.

  62. Eric Newhill says:

    I know. I was taking the liberty to provoke back, hopefully within respectable bounds.

  63. Fred says:

    “…demonstrate how well his Marine’s could fight vs. how best to achieve US objectives …”
    Wasn’t that true at Iwo Jima too, an all Marine Corps show to prove a political point? The army did how many amphibious assaults in that theater, (with fewer casualties too)?

  64. Joe100 says:

    I can’t comment on Iwo Jima as I know very little about that battle. But I don’t think the Marines were calling any shots on their Pacific missions – they were just going where they were told by CINCPAC and intermediate commands.
    I would be careful in any comparisons in casualties among the Pacific campaigns as at least the ones I am fairly familiar with are all quite different in material factors (including leadership quality) that impacted casualties.

  65. turcopolier says:

    I happen to think that the assault on Omaha Beach was poorly planned and executed. Naval gunfire and air attacks were ineffective and nobody bothered to do something elementary like smoke the beach. Marines were involved in that planning? BTW. I thought you were one of Walter Krueger’s detractors and not an admirer. pl

  66. Joe100 says:

    All –
    More US forces being deployed..
    “The US military is deploying 2,500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division to Kuwait, with the declared goal of taking part in operations against Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) in both Syria and Iraq, according to the Army Times.”
    From RT: https://www.rt.com/usa/380111-us-troops-deployment-kuwait/

  67. Fool says:

    To the extent that a “stronger national identity has been forged” as a result of the war, I would point out that this argument is just as easily utilized the opposite way: that the Syrian people have united in opposition to Assad. As a constant, their national ambitions are essentialized to suit a number of political speculations or agendas. What I suspect the people really want is an end to the fighting and bloodshed — but I would say that.

  68. turcopolier says:

    You could say that but you would be wrong. the rebels represent a wide variety of Sunni jihadi interests and no much else. The Syrian “multi-culti” is pretty much all on the Syrian government side. pl

  69. Fool says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Agreed. I wasn’t referring to the rebels though, but the millions of Syrians that have been displaced. Related, what proportion of the rebels today are even Syrian?

  70. mike says:

    Colonel –
    How could anyone dislike General Kreuger? An immigrant, he enlisted when 17 years old to fight in Cuba. He re-enlisted to serve in the Philippines. Then commissioned as a lieutenant based on merit. Made his way to four star general with no help from the old boy network.
    I don’t believe I have ever been a detractor of Kreuger. In fact I admire him more than many other WW2 Generals. He should have gotten more credit for his role in the war, but then MacArthur never let his subordinates shine. Same cone of silence was put over General Kenney’s accomplishments as Air Commander for Mac. Unfortunate that they never got national recognition simply because of their boss’s ego.
    The only WW2 US Army General that I recall ever having disliked was 5th Army Commander in Italy, General Mark Clark. My father served under him in Italy, and always referred to him as a butcher. I continue that sentiment.
    Omaha Beach? From what I have read I agree that the NGF and aerial attacks there were ineffective. I believe there was a PHIBLANT field grade Marine officer and some Royal Marine officers advising early on when it was still called Operation Overlord. But it was an Army show and Army planned. There was no way that a SHAEF or 1st Army G-3 were going to allow jarheads into the inner sanctum.

  71. mike says:

    Tyler –
    What are these meds in this Daesh first aid kit seized by SDF fighters north of dir ez-Zor. Some of it looks like medicinal brandy?. Someone said they are supplied from Turkey.

  72. mike says:

    Colonel –
    You and I both have thin skins and are easily provoked.
    But by the way I was never responding in anger to your jibes. Just trying to point out some historical truths that you may not have considered.

  73. Eric Newhill says:

    I never understood why Omaha Beach did not have CAS on call. It has always seemed to me that Mustangs armed with rockets and Thunderbolts with bombs and napalm (developed at that point and used in the Pacific)+ strafing could have come in, flying parallel to the beach, and taken out the Germans at the more heavily defended sectors, especially at the Verville road access. Smoke would have been good too.
    If Mike is who I think he is, the two of us have had this convo before, but I’m with you. Some say that CAS was not sufficiently developed at that point to perform this mission and that the fighter/bombers were needed further inland to break up German efforts to reinforce the beach with armor and additional infantry.
    I don’t think that is true about the state of CAS in mid-’44 and I have always felt that the slaughter of so much US infantry on the beach was negligence. Dedicate more aircraft and fly more sorties! Don’t sacrifice the infantry needlessly.

  74. turcopolier says:

    I believe it is spelled “Krueger” in his case. I think it was originally called “Roundup.” So, we screwed up by not having a marine or two in the planning staff. pl

  75. Tyler says:

    The AF not liking CAS is not the same as the AF not DOING CAS, first false conflation.
    The Harrier as an effective CAS platform: my sides are gone.
    If you’re wanting to claim that unproven tech is the future, why not claim space lasers?

  76. “Fool” – you write “What I suspect the people really want is an end to the fighting and bloodshed — but I would say that.” I believe most would say that. Perhaps all, apart from a few neocons or ultra-zionists.
    Then – “To the extent that a “stronger national identity has been forged” as a result of the war, I would point out that this argument is just as easily utilized the opposite way: that the Syrian people have united in opposition to Assad.”
    I do not know what you are saying. Are you saying that the war has united Syrians against Assad?
    Thank you for the link to the article in the Jacobin magazine. It contained much interesting information, much of which I hadn’t seen invented before. I could not rid myself of the suspicion that the information had been tailored to fit the argument rather than the other way round. We deplorables aren’t too keen on the former. We’re funny like that. In addition I found that many relevant facts had either been omitted or glossed over. I’m no expert in these matters but I would put the article at around Guardian or NYT standard but well below the level of mendacity achieved by the BBC.
    You will forgive my forthrightness – this morning I heard the BBC reporting on Mosul and apart from the fact that they were considerably less well-informed than the committee on this site I was taken aback by the difference between their reporting of Mosul and their reporting of the similar operation in East Aleppo. Yes I know. You’re not supposed to have the BBC on the car radio. The insurance companies put the rates up if they find out and the other drivers think you’re swearing at them.
    I took the opportunity of looking around the Jacobin site and came across what I believe your President would term a “beauty”:-
    I found this section particularly valuable:-
    “Trump’s victory, of course, may turn out to be the ghost dance of a dying white culture, quickly followed by a return to Obamian, globalist normalcy or, conversely we may be heading into the twilight zone of homegrown fascism. The parameters of the next four years are largely unknown. Much depends on whether the Republicans succeed in incorporating the old industrial states of the upper Midwest into their mid-continental reich of solidly red Southern and plains states. ..”
    I haven’t made up my mind yet which I’m going to choose, the ghost dance of a dying white culture or the homegrown fascism. I’m not light on my feet but on the other had I prefer my fascism straight from the cronies. It’s one of those things you can never grow so well at home. But you’re closer to the action. Which would you prefer?
    All that aside, I suspect that you and I are probably fairly close in outlook and conviction. I find that slightly worrying. I expect you do too. Thanks again for the link.

  77. mike says:

    Syria is formally asking the United Nations to force Turkey to pull its “invasion forces” out of Syria.
    There are some reports that last night Turks or their jihadi proxies in northern Syria shelled Syrian border guard forces to the west of Manbij. This is in the buffer area that the SDF and MMC ceded to the regime in a deal with Russia. There were casualties, some fatal.
    The excuse given was that the area shelled was under control of the Kurdish YPG wearing SAA uniforms to disguise themselves as regime forces. I believe there are some Russian military police in that buffer zone also. Erdogan needs some better control of his bashibazouks.

  78. Henshaw says:

    Focusing on Raqqa in the way they seem to be preparing for could go two ways. Once Raqqa fell, Trump could ‘declare victory and leave’ if he really wanted to, providing lots of kudos for his 2020 campaign.
    The risk is that he will come under irresistible pressure from domestic and foreign interests to use the boots on the ground to pursue other objectives.
    The anti-Iran constituency would likely see this as their last chance to confound a Shia crescent. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Gulfies would see it as a chance to achieve the destruction of Syria that they failed to achieve through funding armed struggle.
    As usual, they’ll all be fully committed and willing to fight to the last American. I hope Trump understands this, even if Bannon et al don’t.

  79. mike says:

    Syria regime casualties from the Turkish shelling are reportedly being treated at a Manbij hospital.

  80. confusedponderer says:

    “Erdogan needs some better control of his bashibazouks.”
    Sultan Erdogan needs to clean his head to get the junkage out of it that mainfests it as his “policy”. Then a soberly and thinking control of the army and their adequate use should be next on his mind as a to-do.
    That strategic genius has turkish troops in two neighbour countries – Syria and Iraq -(uninvited, of course) in what can be soberly called invasion – bad news given Sultan’s rejoicing over old important glories for his ex-empire. None of his neigbours have welcome them.
    What happened in 1000 years since Turkey’s end as a superpower is unimportant for Erdogan. He has power now, and that suffices him by and large. Erdogan has won elections, and has said that democracy is not more than a way to power, and which when at power can be left – which he precisely what he does.
    I wish the unfortunise Turks sent to neighbour countries to restore ismalian control good luck because that’s what they’ll need when ordered by a juvenile neurotic who fired competent officers from the army (a dumb idea, to put it mildly). That genius has since the putsch declared special situation, fired something like two divisions and arrested 170.000 people. Sheer brilliance at work.
    Since I can’t rely on Sultan’s thinking, I pray he won’t attack Greece to get control of the birth place of Atatürk, or of Russia to restore old ismailian control of former soviet republics. The Greeks and the Russians won’t like that and they will hand him his ass. That’ll be a perfect case of feedback for morons, well deserved by Sultan Erdogan.
    It would also be a feedback for the ‘orderly moronities’ wretched out of his throat. Rather recently he called the magnificent (and quite catholic) colognian cathedral ‘the Dom’ “the world’s largest islamic church”. Pathetic and ridiculous. I heard the pope speak there as a child, and never anything I saw there suggested me a muslimic house of god. Adequating his life, Erdogan, while at it, should use the opportunity and quit taking LSD.

  81. confusedponderer says:

    if we try to talk like thinking people, we have to admit that neither Iraq nor Syria can be accused of **falsely** calling these ‘visitors’ invasion forces, since that is precisely what they are.
    Since neither Syria and Iraq has invited or begged for turkish forces, they **are** invasion forces. Sultan Erdogan sent them without consultion. They came to both countries as invasors, and it didn’t help tht they were supporting jihadi elelments like IS. The Iraqis didn’t like that at all and the Syrians didn’t either. Guess why.
    That shouldn’t surprise anybody who dares to think, and that it probably would surprise Erdogan considerably, only shows the lamentable consequences of what must be Sultan’s considerable drug consume.
    The turks and Sultan Erdogan can be happy if they get their troops out of the neighbour countries before being treated as what they are – invasors – be it by their jihadi ‘allies’ or by their unconsulted ‘guest givers’ in Syria and Iraq.
    On the other hand, the turks could then, or rather would have to, learn how to fight battles and try to get over the mindless massacre which Erdogan just as mindlessly has inflicted on the army by his remarkably stupid arrest and ‘firing the non-applausant’ orders after the putsch.
    But as it is that is clearly damage already one and a damage that will be very hard to repaired, especially when being at Sultan’s sheerely wilfull and stuid wars and under doing its fights under his dumb ass orders.

  82. confusedponderer says:

    If the Turks weren’t commanded by incomparable grand geniusses like Sultan Erdogan they may even one day express enough wisdom to not shelling Syrian troops, or shooting down Russian aircraft.
    Russians are the sort of folks who you sucker just once, and who’ll make you pay dearly the second time.
    General Shaakashvili, then president of Georgia had the brilliant idea to invade a neighbour state which was sucessfully defended by Russian troops. Getting his ass handed quite roughly cost him a third re-election. Dick Cheney, the US grand military genius, expressed his disappointment that the US was not bombing the Russians over this. Oh what a horible scandalous omission!
    Shaakashvili was so great a Georgian patriot that he is now a deeply patriotic Ukrainian, commanding some south Ukrainian city where Ukrainian nationalists shoot at Russians. One is tempted with the impression that for Shaakashvili, the brilliant doing man, it is, finally, about shooting at Russians again.
    That’s very much related to these ingrateful and vile Syrians and Iraqis who dare to insult the Turkish univited but very glorious guests as ‘invasors’, just because they are still uninvited and unwelcomed – and happen to support some just as uninvited and unwelcomed – and unwelcoming – jihadis.

  83. confusedponderer says:

    the Syrians have luck when or if their casualties are enough alive to justify medical treatment. If the Turks were aiming at the Syrians to create Syrian friendship, they did get it wrong, actually, they failed utterly.
    That’s because shelling people has a tendency – and quite intentionally so – to be unhelping to the health of the targeted. The Syrians, not being dumb, and having an army themselves, understand that.
    Turkey, by mindlessly doing such foolish things, is inviting a Syrian retribution. It’s a shame that it won’t hurt Sultan Erdogan himself, who is after all the brilliant militrary genius who has thought out the Turkish involvement into the Syrian, and Iraqi, civil wars.
    That is bad enough. It is made worse by the massacre Erdogan has done to the Turkish army. It’ll take them years to fix the ills thus created, and given that they are to be repaired under the brilliant command of genius Sultan Erdogan … God help.
    That Syria and Iraq were part of Turkey during WW-I isn’t creating great reliance on Turkish good intents as well, and it isn’t creating cooperations with people who don’t trust Erdogan for good reasons.
    Erdogan says all these silly things all the time. Give that he is so remarkably unwise, he should better keep his mouth shut – a good advise for that hasty twitterman Trump also.

  84. Thomas says:

    Damn man you are back through the black and into the blue! Congratulations or is it a harbinger of the coming Zombie Apocalypse?
    “What happened in 1000 years since Turkey’s end as a superpower is unimportant for Erdogan.”
    That is not an error you would previously make in your writing style, though in fairness to you coming from the world beyond back into this material one would have a disorienting effect.
    This new feisty self is interesting.

  85. Tyler says:

    Well that’s interesting.
    The IV fluid is Sodium Chloride. Standard stuff. The first ampoule looks like it could be Midazolam (Versed), an emergency benzodiazepine. The second tho, that looks like TPX, transpasteric (spelling) acid. Its starting to be favored in the US for TCCC/trauma response cause it kicks off the clotting cascade with much greater efficiency.
    Its a pretty sexy med kit. I imagine there’s some fentanyl in there as well, and possibly RSI drugs?

  86. Fred says:

    I agree with your comments but meant mine in regards to the politics of having that battle at all – leaving a symbol as legacy as part and parcel of a ‘mythos’ for future political use and not the casualties in the battle itself.

  87. different clue says:

    No future re-united and re-subdued SAR will ever have the brute-force power to make Turkey pay. Perhaps if Turkey becomes so weak and incoherent at home that Turkey is unable to respond to future “plausibly-deniable” subversion and destabilization from Syria, the SARgov may well give the PKK all the assistance that the SARgov feels it can get away with giving them. But not if Russia and Iran tell the SARgov “no. just no.”

  88. mike says:

    Colonel –
    You say: “Everybody should have some.” I guess the Chinese were listening. They are increasing their own Marine Corps by 400 percent:

  89. confusedponderer says:

    “the SARgov may well give the PKK all the assistance that the SARgov feels it can get away with giving them”
    Likely, the Syrians will meet kurdish welcomeness when they do that. The Kurds are, after all, being usually bombed and shot at by the turkish army, and then there is the turkish police. Nobody likes that sort of treatment.
    And it isn’t just the Kurds: The Syrians, for their part, don’t like the Turkish ‘guests’, suspect their plans for Syria, nor do they or the Iraqis like turkish logistic and training support for IS people.
    They all recognise it as hostile acts by Erdogan.
    Erdogan has no one to blame himself for an end of Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation. That to happen was HIS CHOICE, not an accident. So, Erdogan wants to be president of Turkey?
    Well apparently that’s so, and – to be sober – Erdogan doesn’t want a friend Assad in Syria but he rather wants Sria controlled by his IS friends.
    When we think that’s a nutty idea, well, we don’t understand it because behind that are the deep secrets of a genius.
    A while ago, I read that one of Erdogan’s daughters, of course tightly headscarved, worked in a hospital where the turks offered cost free support to folks wounded in Syria – kindly kind of her.
    Perhaps Erdogan simply shows odd family preferences when he supports IS shooting at the Syrian and Iraqi governments. In any way, he ain’t looking seriously at the idea of gaining friends in neighbour countries Syria and Iraq – what he wants is claqeurs doing his orders.

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