29-Jan-17 New details on the effort to insert airborne troops into Deir ez-Zor

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

On December 9, 2016, columns of Islamic State armored cars left the city of Mosul and crossed the border into Syria.IS fighters launched a fierce offensive on the Syrian army garrison in Palmyra and conquered the city.The IS had 4,000 fighters in this operation, who came via Toyota pickup trucks equipped with machine guns, armored vehicles, artillery and tanks.On January 14, 2017, part of the IS group in the area of Palmyra traveled 100 km east to join the Islamic State group attacking the city of Deir ez-Zor.In a few days, the 7,000 IS fighters managed to break in two the defensive formation of the Syrian army at Deir ez-Zor.

The situation became critical for the defenders of Deir ez-Zor and Russian aircraft operating from the Hmeymim base executed 80–100 missions a day to stop the Islamic State attacks.Even so, the Syrian army headquarters decided it was necessary to supplement the military contingent fighting in the Deir ez-Zor encirclement. It was not possible to land Syrian transport planes at the Deir ez-Zor airport, as they would be vulnerable to MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense system)and to machine-gun fire from the terrorists, especially during take-off and landing, and while taxiing.Therefore it was decided to send only soldiers, without arms and munitions, by transport helicopters [1].

The first group of Syrian soldiers was delivered on January 23 to Qamishli in Hasakeh governorate (in northeastern Syria), using four Il-76 military aircraft. Qamishli Airport, with its runway of 3,615 x 46m and its aerial navigation protection systems, is guarded by members of Regiment 154 of the Syrian army. One risk factor was the fact that Hasakeh governorate is controlled almost entirely by the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (YPG), supervised by US military instructors. Qamishli Airport is 50 km northwest of Rmelan, where three security platoons (100 men) of the US 101st Airborne were deployed on January 19, 2016. The US military has set up a 700m-long runway and a platform that is occasionally used by several MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. These US aircraft are used in the fight against IS in Syria’s Raqaa governorate and in the siege against Mosul in Iraq.

On the night of 23/24 January, at Qamishli Airport, the Syrian military group was transferred aboard 20 Russian-made Syrian Mi-8/17 helicopters.TwootherMi-8/17 helicopters were held in reserve and took off after the first 20 to execute search and rescue missions, if necessary.Many of the helicopters had experienced Russian crews. The helicopters took off four or five at a time, in formation, and maintained a distance of 4 km between formations.Flying over territory occupied by the Islamic State, their flight path bypassed all locations under terrorist control. The 250km flight path included several changes of direction to avoid giving away what was the final destination. En route Qamishli–Deir ez-Zor, none of the helicopters used its position lights and they did not descend below the altitude of 2,500 m.The formations of Mi-8/17 helicopters were tracked by Russian military air traffic controllers and were displayed on the Syrian army’s radar screens.It is assumed that an Il-20M1 ELINT may also have been flying in the airspace over eastern Syria, monitoring these formations and other aircraft in the area. TheIlyushin-20M1 is equipped with Kvalat-2 radar, which can spot aircraft and land vehicles up to a distance of 300 km.Since the Mi-8/17 helicopters’ flight path was intersected by the bombing routes used by the anti-Islamic State terrorist coalition led by the US, twoRussianSu-35 fighters gave them air cover.

One of defensive measures used to secure the landing area was, again, the Russian Su-25 close air support jet. Located in the service area above Deir ez-Zor, their primary mission was to strike Islamic State terrorists approaching the landing zone.In the event that one of theMi-8 transport helicopters was shot down or damaged,the mission of the Russian bombers was to provide air cover to the two reserve helicopters that would conduct the search and rescue operation.Other support missions over the Deir ez-Zor air base were executed by Russian reconnaissance drones.They monitored the landing procedure of all the helicopters from a high altitude.Through images transmitted in real time, the mission coordinator at the headquarters of the Hmeymim air base had a complete picture, and so was ready to intervene in case of any special situation.

The Mi-8/17 helicopters made a steep descent from 2,500 m, flying in close circles above Deir ez-Zor airbase, covered by Syrian soldiers. The helicopter crews had night vision equipment and the Deir ez-Zor air base had Russian laser equipment.They marked rectangles to indicate the landing sites for the Russian helicopters.The laser beam was invisible to the IS terrorists but was visible from the air, using the crews’ night vision equipment on the Mi-8/17 helicopters.The helicopters were on the ground for 30–50 seconds to land the ground troops.

The detachment that was thus transported by the Mi-8/17 helicopters was made up of about 500 Syrian soldiers, in other words a tank battalion from Brigade153 / Division 1 Tanks (minus their tanks) and two companies of special ops forces (minus weapons and ammunition). The defense formation at Deir ez-Zor comprises 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers.They belong to the T137 Mechanized Brigade (BMP-1 IFV, T-72, T-55 tanks, and the ZSU-23-4 Shilka — a lightly armored self-propelled weapons system), the 104 Airborne Brigade, 121 Artillery Regiment (M-46 Field Gun, D-30 howitzers, BM-21 Grad MRLS-multiple rocket launchers) and reservists from the national defense forces.

Those defending Deir ez-Zor had the advantage of large stocks of arms and ammunition. Deir ez-Zor was the headquarters of the 17 Mechanized Division that was just formed for this war and was meant to defend northeastern Syria. The 93 Tank Brigade (100 T-55 tanks and 40 BMP-1 IFV) and Special Operations Forces Brigade 154 had battle equipment stored in depots in Deir ez-Zor but not the men to use it.

As a result of this move to increase the fighting forces, Syrian soldiers were able to execute a successful counter-attack and restore the connection between the two formations to the north and to the south of the city of Deir Ez-Zor.


27-Jan-17 A Comparison: Russian Soldiers Have the Best Personal Protection Gear

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

The motto of the US Special Forces is “De Oppresso Liber” (to liberate the oppressed), which is defined as the spear tip for the imposition of democracy by invasion — or by training secret paramilitary groups with the aim of overthrowing governments that are hostile to the US.

To handle complex operations on the ground or on the water, in recent decades the elite forces of the main NATO armies have been equipped with modern, high-performance protective gear. The personal protection kit has several important features.

  • The soldiers are better protected with the use of equipment that is bullet resistant but at the same time allows more mobility.
  • Every soldier is provided with night-vision equipment, with detection sensors and optical rangefinders. These give the advantage of seeing first and shooting first. This enables the soldier to fight in the dark just as well as in daylight.
  • Instead of every man having a portable radio, they now have multifunctional data devices, which display in real time digital maps of the tactical situation, known enemy positions, etc.
  • Fire power is increased by the use of modern automatic weapons and grenade launchers that can be attached to the automatic rifles.

FELIN Personal Protection Systems

Fantassins à Equipements Liaisons Intégrés is the French version of “future soldier infantry equipment,” the most advanced in the world. Félin equipment weighs 24 kg and is designed in four variants: group commander, gunner, rifleman, and sniper.

Félin equipment consists of a bulletproof vest, ballistic protection for the feet and knees, a ballistic helmet (weighing 1.36 kg), with a protective visor and goggles with an anti-laser filter. The electronics equipment consists of portable computer with a color multifunction display. It has a voice communication system and a data link. The computer is also serves as an interface to integrate the soldier with a military transport vehicle — IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) or APC (armored personnel carrier). Félin also has night-vision device (which detects a person from a distance of 1,650 m) and an infrared scope with laser rangefinder designed specifically for assault weapons. To know the position of every soldier in the group, the Félin system has a radio transmitter in the RIF-NG (Réseau d’Information du Fantassin de Nouvelle Génération, or Infantry Information Network) interconnected data network, along with a GPS.

The group commander has a battle management system integrated into a laptop. The laptop provides digital maps and gathers data from each soldier equipped with Félin gear. With this management system the group commander can coordinate his soldiers’ actions.

Félin was tested in Operation Serval, 2013, in Mali, and is being used by the 200 French Special Forces fighting to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

RATNIK Personal Protective Equipment

NATO has expanded up to Russia’s borders and deployed American, British and German armored units near the borders of Russia. In case a conflict with NATO, Russia has equipped its front-line soldiers with individual equipment that is just as good as its NATO counterparts. On October 23, 2014, the Russian armed forces adopted the “Ratnik” standard equipment produced by the Russian defense industry. Apparently Sagem, NEXTER, and Thales have been contributing to the designing of the Ratnik equipment — the same firms that are manufacturing the Félin infantry equipment.

Ratnik protects nearly 90% of the body. In tests, ten 7.62mm-caliber bullets were fired at Ratnik equipment without it being penetrated. By comparison, by the tenth shot, the Germany or US equipment already had at least two bullet holes. Ratnik has the 6B45 bulletproof vest, 6B46 bulletproof shields for the thighs, legs and shoulders, and special 6B47 ballistic helmet. These all provide the sixth level of protection. The 6B47 helmet weighs 1 kg and is fitted with a 1PN139 thermal visor; a 1-P88-2 variable-range sight; and night vision. The sights and night vision systems are synchronized with 5.45mm-caliber AK-12 assault rifles, and the 6VM7 and 6VM7-1 (12.7mm-cal.) sniper rifles and the PKP Pecheneg machine gun.

In addition, Ratnik has the “Strelets” computerized system (“Musketeer” in English) for intelligence, control and communication. Strelets handles voice and video transmission and also has a satellite navigation mode using GLONASS. With the help of the Strelets system, the group commander continuously has the location of each of his subordinates on the monitor. This reduces the risk of friendly fire. Strelets also gives commanders who are on reconnaissance missions a way to send videos and photos of enemy targets to participating soldiers. Each soldier has his own Strelets tactical computer device, smaller than the commanding officer’s, the size of a phone.

The Ratnik uniform material is reinforced with a resin that contains carbon nanotubes (CNT). This resin is used in manufacturing wind turbine blades, hockey sticks and surfboards. The material is three times stronger than the usual stuff, and under infrared light it is only visible from two times closer than ordinary cloth. When used with night vision equipment, the camouflage uniforms printed on Ratnik makes it possible to distinguish between a soldier using Ratnik and those with a different type of equipment.

Ratnik comes with sensors that automatically transmit information about the medical condition of each soldier. When a soldier is injured, medical groups receiving the information can locate him by GPS, give first aid and take him to a hospital.

To obtain battlefield information, groups of Russian soldiers have a silent, mini UAV, powered by an electric motor. The Ratnik personal protection kit includes a gas mask, food and water supplies, water decontamination filters, a medical kit and a sleeping bag; it weighs 20 kg. Currently about 150,000 Russian soldiers are equipped with Ratnik.

CORSAIR- MP Floating Body Armor

The Russian Naval Marines and the US Marines used to be quite different from each other due to the different missions set by the Russian and US governments for these elite units. However, both are recognized for being highly effective, for high professionalism, and for having the latest technology. Russian marines have started to receive as standard equipment the latest floating body armor, “Corsair MP.” In recent years the Corsair MP floating body armor was tested, and training on how to use it was carried out, by Marine units at the Chukotka base in the Arctic, on the Bering Sea.

Corsair MP personal armor gives protection from projectiles, as it is derived from Ratnik. But Corsair MP also functions as a life jacket. Corsair MP keeps a fully-armed marine at the surface for several hours. The equipment has sealed pockets for ammunition (cartridge chargers, launchers, hand grenades), food and communications systems. Corsair MP also beats out all existing floating armor in the world; it allows Marines to shoot with precision in the water as their movements are not restricted. The equipment is a network-enabled ‘Air/Land & Sea Operational Bubble’ combat system.

Russia now has five infantry brigades and other “Spetsnaz” groups of marine special forces for actions at the shore with 13,000 active soldiers. Russian marines and Spetznaz special forces under the Black Sea and the Baltic Fleets have already received the first Corsair MP equipment, preparing in advance for possible challenges in these two theaters of military action.

24-Jan-17 The Russian Army Has Redesigned All Its Armored Forces

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

The new Russian Armata T-14 main battle tank appeared in public for the first time on May 4, 2015, at the final rehearsal for the military parade on Red Square. Along with the Armata T-14 were several new armored vehicles, the T-15 Armata-IFV (infantry fighting vehicle), the BTR / BMP Kurganets 25-IFV, the Boomerang 8 × 8 APC, the BTR-MD Rakushka and BMD-4M (for paratroops) and the 35 2S Koalytsia self-propelled gun. The Armata T-14 tanks at the parade in Moscow were pre-series, for equipment testing purposes, and did not have all the systems mounted on them. But the Armata T-14 tanks to be received by the Russian army will have them all. And their equipment will have to meet the performance targets required in the specifications. The Russian army has already ordered a first batch of 100 Armata T-14 tanks; they began performance trials in late 2016 and will be operational by 2018.

In this way, Russia shows that it has redesigned its entire armored force. The General Staff of the Russian army aims to replace all the armored vehicles left over from the Soviet era and those designed immediately after the collapse of the USSR. So 70% of the technology used by Russian ground troops is being replaced with the latest generation of armored vehicles. Meanwhile, the vehicles replaced by the Russians are seen and will continue to be seen in the equipment of the armies of NATO countries that are former members of the Warsaw Pact (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) and the former Soviet republics (Moldova Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States).

  1. The Need to Build New Russian Armored Vehicles

The Israeli­­­–Arab wars in 1967 and 1973 and the Vietnam War, in which neighboring countries were also involved, resulted in massive purchases of US M60A3 tanks and the Soviet T-64 and T-72. But there was also the rapid design of three successful new vehicles: the German Leopard 2, the Soviet T-80 and the American M1A1. The treaty on the reduction of conventional weapons in Europe obliged the former members of the Warsaw Pact, which later became NATO members, to give up many of their Soviet tanks. Currently, the two Western types mentioned (the Leopard 2 and M1A1) have reached the limit as to any upgrades that could be made. It is now cheaper to design a new vehicles than to continue building on the same line. The same is true for the American M2 Bradley IFV or Stryker APC.

The Stryker appeared in 1972 and is part of the Piranha family produced by the Swiss company MOWAG, now part of the American concern General Dynamics–Land Systems. It became part of the US Marines infantry arsenal in the early 1980s, and was used in the invasion of Panama (1989), the First Gulf War (1991), and the invasions of Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan. The Stryker APC provides protection against projectiles of up to 14.5 mm. In the front, the shield is reinforced, and it is resistant to projectiles up to 20 mm caliber. The floor is also reinforced to withstand landmine explosions and IEDs up to 8 kg. Neither the US nor Germany has any new tank, IFV or APC in the planning or design stages.

The Armata T-14 is different from previous types of Russian tanks. It weighs 57 t, has a low silhouette, and a maximum speed of 90km/h with a range of 500 km. It tackles slopes with a 60-degree inclination and passes over obstacles 1.3 to 1.5 m high. The T-14’s turbodiesel engine is a version of the T-90 MS Taghil that reaches 1,800 hp. The coating was also borrowed from the T-90 MS Taghil: it is painted with a special rubberized Nakidka primer that is radio-absorbent and reduces the thermal footprint.

  1. The Armata T-14 Tank’s Suspension

The T-14 has Russia’s most modern suspension, controlled by a microprocessor. One of the configurations created by the suspension is “seated,” which gives the tank a very low profile when underway and better traction on a straight course. Another configuration is “raised,” in which the front is higher than the rear, used in maneuvering over obstacles. The T-14 has an 8-speed (or more) automatic transmission, so there is no need for a manual gear shift. By comparison, the US M1A2 Abrams tanks and Germany’s Leopard 2A5 have 4 forward speeds and 2 in reverse.

  1. Types of Armor Used by the Armata T-14

The main objective in designing the T-14 army was full crew protection, unlike the T-72 and T-80 where the level of crew protection was low. No crew member is positioned in the turret. The three crew members are in the enclosed and well reinforced compartment. The armor itself (of the armored crew compartment in the Armata T-14) consists of layers of composite, like a sandwich, made with ceramic, plates of titanium–steel alloy, and CNT – carbon fiber nanotube (most likely based on hybtonite, a nanoepoxy resin). Like the T-14, the Leopard 2A5 tank has Chobham type armor, using a 3rd generation multilayer composite which includes steel, tungsten and plastic, reinforced with ceramic components. In tests conducted by the US Army, the armor of the Leopard 2A5 tank demonstrated that it provides twice as much protection from kinetic projectiles as the American M1A2 Abrams tank (equivalent penetration depth 350 mm versus 650 mm).

The operative version of the Armata T-14 also has additional ERA armor (explosive reactive armor) that was not shown on the tanks on display during the parade. This armor, 600–1000mm thick, is called Relikt and it neutralizes the cumulative effect of antitank shells or missiles. The cumulative effect of anti-tank shells or missiles is to penetrate by melting the actual armor itself and then exploding inside the armored compartment. Relikt is constructed of RHA (rolled homogeneous armor) panels mounted at an angle tilted toward the front. ERA also protects the turret, the rear and the sides of the Armata T-14 tank, where the armor itself is not as thick. The Leopard 2A4 tanks that the Turkish military bought from Germany did not have this ERA armor. Between November 2016 and January 2017, Turkey used the Leopard 2A4 tanks in offensive operations to capture the Syrian city of Al Bab that was occupied by the Islamic State. In urban areas in Al Bab, the Turkish infantry had no room for maneuver in order to synchronize with the Leopard 2A4 armored vehicles, and the tanks fell into an Islamic State ambush. Turkey lost ten German Leopard 2A4 tanks in Al Bab, hit from the side and rear by SPG rocket launchers (self propelled grenades) and antitank missiles. In the war in Yemen, the Saudi army has lost twenty American M1A2 Abrams tanks that they bought from the US and that didn’t have ERA armor.

The third type of protection for the Armata T-14 is optoelectronic; it’s called Malachit and serves to blind the infrared- and laser-seeking heads of antitank missiles guided in the optical wavelength spectrum. It uses two automatic grenade launch systems with suspensions of aerosols, which prevents the photoelectric sensors from guiding the missile to the tank in the final stage.

The fourth protection system is a type of APS (Active Protection System) called Afganit and is intended to detonate anti-tank missile warheads and missiles at a distance of 1–2 m from the tank. So Afganit intercepts and detonates anti-tank missiles and rockets before they touch the armor. Afganit uses a small Doppler radar that operates in tandem with a set of sensors in the infrared spectrum to discover targets and measure the distance to them. The Afganit microprocessor system calculates the trajectory of the rocket fired at the tank and fires explosive interceptors back at it.

Afganit can track multiple targets and prepare to destroy two of them simultaneously. The interceptor tubes have a fuel block and a proximity fuse. Unlike other protection systems, Afganit tubes do not produce shrapnel. They use only the blast wave from the explosion to destroy the incoming missile or cause it to explode early. Afganit is a generation ahead of the Shtora, Arena and Trophy APS systems (the most advanced in the world at this time). In the operation to liberate the city of Aleppo, the Syrian army used a company of T-90 MA tanks. In videos posted on the Internet, you can see that the APS on the T-90 MA (Shtora) tanks neutralizes American BGM-71 TOW-2 anti-tank missiles.

  1. The Armata T-14 Tank’s Weaponry

The T-14 is equipped with an electrically-operated remote-control turret, in which the main cannon (2A82-1M, 125mm cal.) is mounted — which is superior to the 2A46M 5 on the T-90 MS tank. The gun has a 3-D laser gyroscopic stabilizing system. This cannon is said to develop 30% more kinetic energy than the cannon on the M1A2 Abrams tank (which pierces armor up to 810mm thick) and the Leopard 2A5. The T-14’s main gun has an automatic mechanism for cooling the barrel, which enables it to fire at a higher rate than the ones on T-90MS tanks. The gun uses tungsten-core armor-piercing explosive projectiles, with Kitolov 2M laser-guided Sense-and-Destroy (SADARM) antitank sub-munitions, and laser-guided antitank rockets that can be fired at helicopters or low-flying aircraft. Variations on the Armata T-14 tank are envisaged, on which the 125mm-caliber howitzer can be replaced with a 152mm-cal. 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled gun. The 2S35 Koalytsia self-propelled gun is a new Russian weapon with a maximum range of 70 km that uses Krasnopol-2 laser-guided projectiles. As a secondary weapon, the T-14 has another gun, 30mm cal. (firing at a rate of 620 projectiles / min) which was not on the tanks shown at the parade in 2015. Another secondary weapon is a 7.62mm cal. machine gun, remote operated, for anti-air and anti-land use. All the weapons in the turret are automatic loading.

The weapons in the turret are connected to the fire control center, which is equipped with two full sets of HD night vision gear (with video screens protected by anti-laser filters) with x 15–20 magnifying power), a laser rangefinder, and a ballistics computer coupled to wind speed and wind direction sensors. Optoelectronic devices provide a full 360-degree field of vision around the tank. The IFF (friend or foe) identification equipment has two channels (laser and electronic) that send an encrypted digital signal to the target. The laser identifies the target in 0.6 seconds, and if it’s a friend, it stops the weapons in the turret from firing.

  1. The Armata T-14’s Electronic Countermeasures Equipment and Navigation Equipment

The Armata T-14 has an Electronic Countermeasures suite to jam enemy laser guidance systems. A laser warning receiver locates the light source that guides enemy anti-tank missiles, and it emits a high-powered laser spot that blinds the optical guidance equipment (laser rangefinder, night vision equipment, TV cameras in the visible and infrared spectrum). The Armata T-14 tank also has EMT-7 (electromagnetic pulse transmitter) equipment that short-circuits the electrical sensors that can trigger anti-tank mines from a distance of 5–8m.

The Armata T-14’s navigation system displays the tactical situation as a digital map using GPS channels to determine the coordinates of still and moving targets. Its communications equipment transmits and receives information from similar equipment on other T-14, IFV, and APC tanks, and recon and attack helicopters/airplanes and drones. From detection to location (the transmission of a target’s coordinates), identification, and attack, takes no more than 9 sec. The Armata T-14 also has electronic combat capabilities featuring a broadband receiver transmitter and a jammer.

  1. Other Russian Armored Vehicles that Complement the Armata T-14

In practice, the Armata T-14 has certain limitations. A 125mm-cal. rocket weighs 5.6 kg, so the T-14 only has a reserve of 42–50 projectiles. As targets, the T-14 will choose to neutralize tanks, artillery pieces and fortifications on the enemy’s territory.

Armata T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles fight together with the T-14s to destroy the remaining 70% of the targets, i.e., the enemy’s infantry support (artillery groups, tank line-ups and light and highly mobile armored vehicles such as Humvees or PCA Strykers). The T-15 has the same chassis as the T-14, but it is equipped with an Epoch Almaty universal turret, with remote control, the same as the new 25t Kurganets-25 IFV and the 8×8 Boomerang APC. The Almaty Epoch turret is armed with a 30mm-cal. cannon, a 7.62mm-cal. machine gun and a launch container with two Kornet / Kornet-EM laser beam guided-rocket launchers (8–10 km range). The 2A42, a 30mm-cal. automatic cannon, can fire at a rate of 550–800 shots/minute. The mass of a shell is 300–400 g. The Armata T-15, Kurganets-25 and Boomerang each have 500 30mm.-cal.projectiles.

As with the Armata T-14 tank, the T-15 IFV is protected by four types of armor. It uses the same navigation equipment and optoelectronics, the same engine, a similar central fire control, etc. The BTR/BMP Kurganets-25 IFV is for infantry and elite mountain troops; it is powered by a 800hp engine. It has a 3-man crew and can carry eight infantrymen.

Comparing the Armata T-14 to the German Leopard 2, the American M1A2 Abrams, the French AMX 56 Leclerc and the British Challenger 2 tanks, the Russian tank comes out 3/1 ahead. Therefore, Russia plans to acquire 2,300 Armata T-14s by 2020-2025. No European army and not even the US has the equivalent of the Armata T-15. Therefore the Russian army will acquire 4,000 of the Armata T-15 heavy IFVs to serve as weapons platforms with mortars and anti-aircraft missile systems. They may also be usable for towing damaged tanks. Russia also aims to acquire 4,000 of the Kurganets-25 IFV by 2020-2025.

  1. Russian Armored Vehicles for the Airborne Divisions are Intended to Surprise NATO

Russia is making great efforts to develop the capability to stop a potential NATO offensive, which would revolve around the extraordinary firepower of the US armored brigades. Russia is counting avoiding being surprised by NATO and hoping, instead, that the Russian army will be able to surprise its opponent. By avoiding surprise, we refer to airborne operations conducted by the US military deep in Russian territory: operations by units of airborne troops carried on board C-5 Galaxy, C-17, and C-130 transport aircraft and tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22), and units transported by CH-47, CH-53E and UH-60 transport helicopters. These aircraft are accompanied by multi-role aircraft (F-15, F-16, F-22, A-10, AV-8) and by attack helicopters (AH-64, OH-58 and the AH-1W/Z used to “hunt” Russian armored groups that are near to where the airborne troops landed).

In turn, Russia wants to be able to surprise NATO, which cannot be achieved using the cumbersome Russian armored vehicles described above but with the mobility and firepower of Russia’s new armored vehicles for airborne troops. Projecting force at a great distance in a few hours, the Russian paratroopers’ IFVs are parachuted behind US armored brigades. Then Russian paratroops can come around the flanks of the American battle formations. They can create deep breaches or surround and isolate battalions of US armored brigades. Once encircled, these armored subunits become vulnerable and can be destroyed easily. To this end, the Russian paratroops have begun acquiring more light IFV: the BTR-MD Rakushka and the BMD-4M, designed to be parachuted from IL-76 aircraft.

The BTR-MD Rakushka is an IFV that weighs 13t and is capable of running at 70 km/h and crossing streams of water. It can safely transport a commando group of 13 paratroopers, or 2 tons of ammunition. It is armed with a PKTM 7.62mm machine gun and a .30mm automatic grenade launcher. To provide fire support for the BTR-MD Rakushka, the paratroopers have another IFV, the 13 ton BMD-4M. The BMD-4M is armed with a 100mm turret-mounted cannon that launches regular projectiles and also laser-guided anti-tank missiles (9M117 Bastion). And in the turret the IFV also has a 30mm cannon and four banks of guided anti-tank missiles.

In addition to the BMD-4M, Russian amphibious forces have fire support from the Sprut-SD light tank (with a mass of 18 tons), armed with a 125mm cannon that can also launch laser-guided antitank missiles (the 9M119 Svir). An Il-76 transport plane can parachute two such tanks every time it flies. For greater mobility, Division 106 from Tula (a city located 165km south of Moscow) has additionally selected wheeled armored vehicles (6×6) with a speed of 90–130 km/h (the UAMZ 5313-Kolun, UAMZ 4901-Toros and the Typhoon MRAP).

  1. Russian Counter-Battery Fire Equipment for Parachute Troops

To achieve its aim, Russian paratroops need maximum precision at night or in fog. They have modern equipment for target detection and identification in the area into which they are parachuted. These devices are known as counter-fire artillery. Reconnaissance subunits of the Russian paratroopers create mobile outposts capable of creating a digital map in real time using GPS coordinates from devices on the enemy’s vehicles, especially normal and reactive artillery and tanks. Using a data line, Russian reconnaissance subunits transmit the coordinates of a target to fire support installations up to 50 km away.

The new reconnaissance system on the “PRP-4A Argus” self-propelled artillery was obtained by mounting an IL120-1 radar on the BMP-1 (IFV), instead of the turret. The equipment also has electro-optical night vision devices coupled with two 1D14-1 periscopic laser rangefinders, placed one in front and one in back. The crew consists of commander, mechanic-driver, an operator for the reconnaissance radar system and one for the electro-optical sensors. The two sensor operators have KL-85 multifunction displays and are connected to Russian military telecommunications satellites. The combined sensor equipment has a 360° field of vision with +/- 5 ° elevation for determining the coordinates of enemy artillery and armored vehicles up to a distance of 20–25 km and isolated groups of soldiers at up to 7 km. For jamming antitank laser-guided missiles launched at it, the PRP-4A Argus has a 1PN125 stroboscopic laser transmitter and 3VD35 grenades that produce a curtain of aerosols.

23-Jan-17 The General of PR Trump’s “Mad Dog” — one of the most controversial figures in the American military establishment

by Pavel Ivanov Originally appeared at VPK, translated by Alice Decker via SouthFront

The US Congress approved the candidacy of the former head of the Central Command of the Armed Forces (CENTCOM), General James Mattis, for the post of secretary of defense. It is noteworthy that for the appointment of the future head of the Pentagon, a special procedure was created.

Under US law, a retired military man can serve as secretary of defense only after at least seven years since his dismissal. And Mattis resigned in 2013. Therefore, his appointment required special coordination with the Congress and the Senate, as well as individual hearings in the Committee on Armed Services.

“In Afghanistan and Iraq, the future head of the Pentagon was nicknamed ‘Poser’ and ‘PR man’ ”

Judging by statements from experts and analysts, the nomination of the ex-general who has served for 41 years was based on simple military talents. There is an opinion that the appointment of Mattis was opposed by the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, in particular by the outgoing head of the department Ashton Carter. Reports have been published in the American mass media many times about conflicts among the Defense Department’s civilian leadership, who have little understanding of the military and approach the armed forces like a corporation. So the appointment of the distinguished general as head of the Pentagon is seen as a victory for the “war lobby.”

Meanwhile, the appointment of James Mattis signals a big problem ahead. In reality, the Marines general is an ambiguous figure. It was not only some abstract “civic leaders” who opposed his candidacy but specific generals in the US Army Command and Special Operations Forces. During operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, this very same future head of the Pentagon earned the unflattering nicknames ‘the Poser’ and ‘the incompetent PR man.’

Afghan hyper-cautious syndrome

In November 2001, a Special Forces team, ODA 574, was abandoned in Afghanistan. The “Green Berets” had quite a difficult task: to help the future Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s forces prepare an attack on Kandahar. It’s noteworthy that he went with the advisors to the rear of the Taliban with the ODA 574 and instructors from the CIA.

At that time, there were no regular units or divisions of the US military in the country except the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on objective “Rhino” — an abandoned airfield 190 kilometers from Kandahar. Brigadier General James Mattis was commanding the Unit.

On December 5, due to a targeting error by the gunlayer, a bomb dropped from a B-52 hit the ODA 574, killing and wounding several soldiers. The Commander of the 5th Special Operations Group appealed to Mattis, requesting evacuation. But he was refused: allegedly, the general was not aware of what was going on in the area, and did not want to risk the helicopter.

Despite the fact that the headquarters of a battalion of special forces, and a “Delta” squadron which guaranteed helicopters cover from ground fire, were already operating in the area, Mattis remained adamant. He didn’t change his decision even after he was informed that a number of the injured needed urgent surgery or they would die.

MH-53 helicopters from Uzbekistan had to be used for their evacuation. Two “Hercules” flew to “Rhino” with special medical modules in the cargo hold and teams of doctors. The helicopters made it in time. However, due to lack of fuel, the crews were forced to conduct aerial refueling over Kandahar at an altitude of just several hundred meters, under Taliban fire. Well, none of the MD-53 was hit.

But Mattis did not want guests at the “Reno” and barred a C-130 with physicians from landing. The aircraft circled in the air for several hours. At some point, the crew decided to land on their own. Then General Tommy Franks, the head of CENTCOM and the commander of Operation Enduring Freedom, stepped in. He made Mattis allow the landing and ensured that MH-53 with the wounded would be accepted.

But despite Franks’ personal intervention, Mattis turned to minor mischief as “Green Berets” later described. While medical operations were being conducted, Marines began to warm up the engines of the AH-1 helicopters and then to operate them. This caused shaking of medical C-130 and hindered the work of the surgeons.

The Unified Command of Special Operations Forces (OKSSO) of the US Armed Forces demanded an investigation into the conduct of James Mattis at the “Reno” facility. After some time, the proceedings were closed, but Mattis had won himself enemies in the OKSSO.

A Dubious victory

It is believed that Mattis earned the nickname Mad Dog, and a reputation as a harsh and brilliant warrior, during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But the general’s merits are rather controversial.

‘Mad Dog’ stuck to him after the publication of the book “Generation Kill” (a chronicle of the actions of the Marine reconnaissance battalion in Iraq) and the eponymous series. A few snippets show the general as a charismatic leader, not afraid of danger. Suffice it to recall how Mattis scolded the commander of an Expeditionary Division group right on the bridge under fire from Iraqi troops.

However, in the memoirs of one of the participants in those events, Lieutenant Nathaniel Fick, these episodes are, to put it mildly, more ambiguous. The General does not look “the father of the Marines.” But the book and the film played a role — now the successful operations of the Marine Corps in Iraq is attributed to Mattis. Later, the PR effect was when a collection of the general’s quotes was released to the press.

But the official historiography of the Marine Corps published in the late 2000s indicated that the most important decisions and the most difficult actions in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 were made by Lieutenant General James Conway, who was then commander of the expeditionary forces of the Commission in Iraq. Mattis obeyed him (at that time Conway was the commander of the 1st Marine Division), and not vice versa, as stated in some publications.

No less controversial were James Mattis’s decisions during the fighting in Falluja. Traditionally, it is reported that the brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division failed to subdue the city. To prevent disturbances, the Pentagon rushed the Marine Division headed by Mattis to Fallujah and he completed the job.

After several works on the “Delta” operations in Iraq were published, the situation looked different again. Despite Mattis’ best efforts, fighting broke out in Fallujah. “Delta” Special forces officers who were active in the city at the time claimed that the general was always late. Barricades were already being built and weapons were being brought in, but the Marines took down some of their posts, to, as Matthis said in his orders, normalize life. When clashes were expected to break out any minute, the general ordered them to conduct patrols without helmets and body armor, so as not to provoke the civilians and not to show the US Marines as occupiers.

This decision was widely repeated in the media, as well as in Mattis’ daily briefings, where he often used his famous “military wisdom.” However, the Marines themselves were somewhat disillusioned with the division commander. When fighting broke out in the city in full force, the Marine Division was not ready for it.

Interestingly enough, James Mattis is one of the few lieutenants-general (the highest military rank in the ILC) who was not made a commander of the Marine Corps, or at least a lieutenant commander.

Since 2005, Mattis has not actually directed led military units. In 2006, he headed up the development of the joint command responsible for introducing new weapons systems, and then the joint command of the forces and funding — in fact, managing military training.

And if under the Bush administration the general’s career faded, under Barack Obama it blossomed. However, the attempt to appoint Mattis USMC commander failed because of tacit resistance from his potential subordinates. The ILC is one of the few positions in the US Armed Forces where the commander is appointed by the president, but only with the agreement of the corps itself. But with CENTCOM, with its commander General Petraeus having fallen out of favor, everything worked out.

James Mattis is a general with a fairly dubious reputation. In many respects, he did not score military achievements but rather ran a public relations campaign. And he has a pretty complicated relationship with his colleagues. Mattis frankly is not liked in the US Armed Forces, Special Operations Forces Joint Command and Special Operations Command. And the leadership of the latter group (it consists of “Delta” and DEVGRU) are considered “gray cardinals” not only the Pentagon but also in the national security system.

17-Jan-17 In Syria, the Russian Navy and Air Force are testing new means of defense against an invasion by NATO

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker
Originally posted at Algora Blog.

From 8 November 2016 to 6 January 2017, Russia tested in the Eastern Mediterranean a naval group’s ability to execute complex missions similar to those missions that anti-assault craft would have to perform in the event of a NATO invasion targeting the coasts of Russia. The Russian naval group was composed of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great, the destroyers Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov, and the frigate Admiral Grigorovich. The Russian aircraft carrier, with a displacement of 60,000 t., had onboard fourteen Su-33 multi-purpose aircraft, four Mig-29Ks (of the twenty Mig-29K/KUB which it could carry), four Su-25UTG/UBP training/ground attack aircraft, and fourteen Kamov Ka-27PLO anti-submarine helicopters.

The Russian aircraft aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov executed 420 missions, hitting 1,252 Syrian terrorist targets. Each plane onboard was armed with Kh-29 type L/T air–ground missiles and T Kh-25 (guided by laser or TV camera), launched from an altitude of 10,000 meters and at a distance of 10–12 km from the targets. The aircraft carrier supplemented the two Russian light bomber squadrons that remained behind to operate out of the Hmeymim airbase in Syria after the attempt to establish a ceasefire in Syria (February 27, 2016) and which can launch 72 “smart” guided bombs or missiles  daily.

The US nuclear propulsion aircraft carriers have on board 85 to 90 aircraft (of which 50 are F/A-18/EA-18Gs) and are provided with CATOBAR systems (Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), which makes it possible to accelerate the take-off of aircraft having a mass of more than 40 t., including E-2D Hawkeye AEW aircraft (airborne early warning). The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov can take on board only 36 aircraft, and it is equipped with STOBAR (short take-off but arrested recovery) and a ski-jump ramp that does not allow the use of AEW aircraft. STOBAR limits the take-off mass of the aircraft and, therefore, they cannot take off with externally mounted extra fuel tanks. For this reason, jets flying from the American carriers have an operational range of 700 km, while those from the Russian carrier have a flight radius of only 300 km. This detail was not a problem since the distance between the Islamist targets in the governorate of Idlib or Aleppo and the position of the Russian naval group was about 150–200km.

Therefore, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier is especially useful in the defense of Russia, as it can intercept enemy bombers or fighter-bombers operating beyond the tactical range of Russian aircraft stationed on land. It is also useful in forcing aircraft onboard a NATO naval group to engage battle before the Russian coastline comes into range. In the second case, the planes are armed with Kh-61 missiles (airborne version of the P-800 Onyx), with a range of 350–500 km and a flight speed of Mach 2.5 (2,800 km/h).

The Russian naval group was not limited to bombing Islamist rebels; it also tested counter-attack capabilities by launching real ship-to-ship missiles on board. The Admiral Kuznetsov is also armed with other defensive weapons, such as P-700 Granit ship-to-ship missiles, with a radius of 625 km, flying at Mach 1.6–2.5. The cruiser Peter the Great is also armed with P-700 Granit missiles, while the Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov destroyers have the P-270 Moskit missile with a range of 250 km. The frigate Admiral Grigorovich is armed with 3M14T Kalibr cruise missiles with range of 2500 km and P-800 Onix missiles.

Starting in October 2015, when Russia deployed an air-and-ground contingent in Syria, the Russian naval forces conducted several rounds of combat exercises aimed at Islamist terrorist targets. Through these exercises, Russia has actually tested the new capabilities that they would use in a defensive operation against NATO. On November 15, 2016, the K-300P Bastion coastal missile system — installed by the Russians on the Syrian coast — launched 24 rockets against terrorist Islamist bunkers in Syria. The K-300P is a coastal anti-ship missile, of the “sea-skimming” type, derived from the P-800 Onyx. On November 17, 2015, over sixteen 3M-14T Kaliber cruise missiles were launched from the diesel-electric submarine Rostov-on-Don, located in the Mediterranean Sea. Another twenty-six 3M-14T Kaliber cruise missiles were launched from a Gepard-class frigate and the two Buyan-class corvettes, all located in the Caspian Sea. Also on November 17, 2015, Russia launched thirty-four KH-555 cruise missiles at terrorist targets in Syria, using Tu-22M3, Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers that took off from the Engels air base in the Volga region, using the same battle technique as the Russian naval air forces.

From the doctrinal point of view, the US Navy supports the military invasion of distant lands, using naval expeditionary forces. This characteristic is based on the fact that they have a large number of modern ocean-going vessels. The US Navy fleet is composed of 10–11 aircraft carriers, 21 helicopter carriers (9 amphibious assault ships, 2 amphibious command ships and 10 amphibious transport docks), 22 cruisers, 63 destroyers, 8 LCS ships (Littoral combat ships), 51 nuclear-powered attack submarines, and 14 nuclear submarines equipped with ballistic missiles.

Since 2013 the U.S. Navy has received three ESD (Expeditionary Shuttle Docks) mobile amphibious platforms: the Montford Point (T-MLP-1), the John Glenn (T-MLP-2) and the Lewis b. Puller (T-MLP-3), with a displacement of 34,000–84,000 t. Only the US has this type of vessels, specially designed to transport armored vehicles and heavy fighting equipment close to the shore. Since the deck is accessible at water level, Marines and combat equipment can be transferred by helicopters  and large hovercraft, which deposit them to dry land. The U.S. Army has depots on every continent, and in countries close to areas of potential military conflict. For example, in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has huge depots that keep military equipment the U.S. Army for operations in any State from Asia and East Africa. Here are stored thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, logistical equipment, helicopters and ammunition that could make up two American army corps. ESD amphibious mobile platforms allow the timely transport, positioning, and concentration of maritime assault forces in any theater of action around the globe. They also serve as a base for naval Special Operations missions, along with an amphibious command ship (helicopter carrier).

Unlike the U.S. Navy, most Russian naval and naval aviation missions have to do with defending the Russian coast, from enemies far away and on distant fronts. Maintaining Russia’s strategic nuclear strike capacity is an exception; for this, they have a fleet of 38 atomic-powered submarines, most carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles (including three new Borey-class submarines and one Yasen-class). With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the shipyards on the Black Sea reverted to Ukraine. The most important of those was the shipyard at Mykolaiv, where Soviet aircraft carriers were built, along with helicopter carriers, cruisers and destroyers. However, the four sites for the construction of conventional and nuclear-powered submarines and their supply chain remained wholly within the territory of the Russian Federation. Although it has a very competent design team, Russia has stopped building aircraft, helicopter carriers, cruisers and destroyers since their naval gas turbines have all been designed and manufactured since the Soviet era in Ukraine’s Zorya plant in Mykolaiv. Ukraine stopped delivering any military equipment to Russia in 2014. Russian aviation engine manufacturer NPO Saturn tries to fill the gap by replacing Ukrainian engines with its own, but only for the new Russian frigates Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Grigorovich, not for larger ships. At the same time, Western electronic and navigation systems are no longer available because of the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Russia retired many of its large Soviet-era ships in the last ten years, maintaining in service one aircraft carrier (the Admiral Kuznetsov), one nuclear-powered cruiser (the Pyotr Velikiy), three conventional cruisers (the Moskva, the Marshal Ustinov, the Varyag) and 15 destroyers. Retrofitting the large surface ships in this case entails replacing the old delivery systems and missiles by installing in the deck ten to twelve 3S-14, 3M-54, 3M22 or 3M55 vertical launch systems, each having eight launch cells, just like the MK41 on the American AEGIS destroyers and cruisers. The launch cells are compatible with 3M-14T Kalibr cruise missiles, similar to the RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk on US ships, P-800 Onyx ship-to-ship rockets, and the Kh-41 Moskit, naval variants of ship-to-air missiles like the S-400 (range: 400 km) or the S-350, etc.

Russia has placed a particular emphasis on increasing the number of conventional attack submarines, which number 24 (of which six are new Varshavyanka class submarines). The Varshavyanka class submarine has hydro-acoustic technology and advanced electronics that make it the quietest submarine class in the world, and it is also extremely maneuverable in the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Russian attack submarines are equipped with 3M-14T Kalibr cruise missiles and Kh-41 Moskit anti-ship missiles, with 250 km range and Mach 3.2 (3587 km/h).

Extremely useful for the new missions of the Russian Navy near the coast are fast, smaller, multi-purpose ships like the six frigates (two of which are of the new Admiral Grigorovich class) and 81 missile corvettes (of which two are Gepard class, eight are Buyan class, and four are Steregushchiy, all new). The new vessels have 3S-14 vertical launch systems, and the oldest ones are in the process of being upgraded to the same standard. The standard version has 3M-14T Kalibr cruise missiles, and P-800 and Kh-41 Moskit Onix ship-to-ship missiles. Their air defense systems are made up of ship-to-air Buk M3s (with a range of 70 km) or Pantsir-M (range: 24 km).

After the war in Georgia in 2008, when Russia was slow to respond due to the lack of high capacity amphibious transport ships, the Russian Navy wanted to get four amphibious assault ships (helicopter carriers). Unlike aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships have on board not only two to three squadrons of helicopters (or vertical take-off and landing aircraft) but a land contingent (a battalion of marines with all combat equipment) and the means for landing them on the coast (including ships and hovercraft). In 2014, Paris refused to deliver the two Mistral helicopter carriers that Russia had already paid for, citing Moscow’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. Subsequently, the two Mistral helicopter carriers were sold to Egypt. The Mistral has a displacement of 21,300 t., and can take on board sixteen Ka-52K attack helicopters and sixteen ASW (anti-submarine warfare) transport and reconnaissance helicopters.

Outside of France, there are only a few countries that can afford helicopter carriers. The US has eight Wasp-class helicopter carriers and one America-class, at 41,000 t., with twelve CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopters, six AV-8B type vertical-takeoff-and-landing or mobile rotor planes (MV-22 Osprey), four AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, and nine anti-submarine and search & rescue Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallions. England boasts three Ocean and Albion Class helicopter carriers (21,000 and 23,700 t.), built in their own shipyards, with eighteen helicopters each. Italy has three San Giorgio class ships with American helicopters equipped with SH-3D Sea King helicopters, South Korea has built a 18,000 t. Dokdo-class helicopter carrier with 15 American Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on board. Japan has an Izumo-class helicopter carrier (27,000 t.) and two Hyuga-class (19,000 t.) that can carry American SH-60K and MH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. Australia has ordered from Spain’s Navantia shipyards two amphibious command ships (helicopter carriers) Juan Carlos class (27,000 t.): the Canberra and the Adelaide. These two have on board the American S-70B Seahawk multi-role helicopter. Spain also has a Juan Carlos class ship (with eleven AV8B vertical takeoff aircraft and twelve NH90 helicopters) and one Galicia class (13,815 t.) with six NH-90 helicopters. China has three Type 071 vessels for amphibious troops (20,000 t.), with Z-8 helicopters on board built under license after the French Super Frelon.

15-Jan-17 World View — Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades
  • US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades

Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland's 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)
Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland’s 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)

People across Poland are celebrating “Operation Resolve,” the arrival to Poland the largest US military deployment to Europe in decades. The deployment includes about 4,000 troops and also 2,400 pieces of military equipment, including tanks and Humvees.

The deployment is a reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. Other countries in eastern Europe are concerned that they will be the next victim of a Russian invasion, and it’s hoped that the presence of US troops will deter Russia.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said,

“Welcome to Poland. … The presence of American soldiers in Poland is another step in our strategy to ensure safety and security for Poland and the region. …

It’s a great day today when we can welcome, here in Zagan, American soldiers who represent the best, the greatest army in the world.”

Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said:

“We have waited for you for a very long time. We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only ones who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east.”

The American troops will be part of a Nato contingent that will include troops from Britain and Canada. The troops will be rotated every nine months through Poland, the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and Romania in order to provide a technical workaround to a promise made to Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union that Nato would not permanently base large numbers of forces east of Germany. Deutsche Welle and CNN and AFP

US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is always calling everyone he dislikes “Nazis” and “Fascists,” but he doesn’t like to admit that Russia’s were also “Nazis and Fascists” prior Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Hitler and Josef Stalin had signed a treaty (the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) in 1939 where they split up Poland between them. The agreement also divided Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania between the Nazis and the Communists. It was only in 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, that Stalin finally learned being a Nazi is not a good thing. Even so, after Hitler was defeated, Stalin’s Soviet forces occupied Poland and other east European countries for decades.

These events are far ancient history to today’s young generations in America and Western Europe, but they’re still very raw memories to the people of Poland and other East European countries. They’ve seen Russia invade and annex parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and they have no doubts that Russia would invade their countries, as has happened in the past.

Putin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the US troops in Poland would be “a threat to Russia’s national security.”

It’s hard to believe that 5,000 American troops would be a threat to Russia’s security, inasmuch as Russia has something like 330,000 troops along its western border. Furthermore, Russia has long-range Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad that can be made nuclear.

The US deployment is being described as a “tripwire” force, designed to prevent Russia from getting away with an easy invasion of some other country, as they did with Georgia and Ukraine. It’s thought that Russia would not be willing to risk a larger war by attacking an American force of any size.

Russian military expert Vladimir Kozin says that another reasons for the deployment is that outgoing President Obama wants to box in Donald Trump:

“According to the German military, some 900 railroad cars will be needed to deliver all this equipment to the deployment sites. But what is the reason? First, [US President Barack] Obama wants to play a mean trick on President-elect Donald Trump who won the election.”

It’s worth mentioning that there’s one other possible theory why Obama did this in the last few days of his administration: It’s possible that Trump asked Obama to do it before leaving office, so that he wouldn’t have to do it.

Kozin said that the deployment is unprecedented since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is forcing Europe to accept it:

“Finally, the US wants to maintain tensions around the world and particularly in Europe. They want to turn the region into another tinderbox ready to ignite. This number one priority. …

The US and NATO plan to increase aerial, anti-submarine, missile defense and intelligence activities with the use of heavy military equipment. In order to justify sanctions, the situation needs to be tense all the time. Europe is becoming a prisoner of this new Cold War initiated by Obama.”

Sputnik News (Moscow) and Deutsche Welle (14-Nov-2016) and Sky News

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Poland, Beata Szydlo, Jaroslaw Mika, Antoni Macierewicz, Operation Resolve, Ukraine, Crimea, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Dmitry Peskov, Kaliningrad, Vladimir Kozin
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

14-Jan-17 World View — Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus
  • Israel’s motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus

Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus
Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus

The Syrian army said that Israel has launched a missile strike on the al-Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus early on Friday morning. The army said it was a “flagrant attack” by Israel with the purpose of aiding the “terrorist groups” in Syria. According to the army statement:

“Syrian army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators.”

Syrian state television quoted the army as saying several rockets were fired from an area near Lake Tiberias in northern Israel just after midnight. The report said that the rockets landed in the military compound of the airbase, causing explosions and a large fire. Other reports were contradictory, saying that the Israeli attack was from missiles launched from Israeli warplanes.

Syria says that there have been several such attacks in the past, and that they all coincided with defeats for the armed terrorist groups in Syria, especially Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Syria said that the purpose of the attack was to “raise morale” of the terrorist organizations who are attempting to overthrow the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has sent letters to the United Nations demanding international retaliation against Israel:

“The new Israeli missile attack on Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus comes within a long series of Israeli attacks since the beginning of the terrorist war on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria which has been planned in the Israeli, French and British intelligence agencies and their agents in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other countries that wanted to impose control and hegemony on Syria and the region.”

Iran’s media added to the charges by claiming that Israel was attempting to prevent Syria’s army from restoring water supplies to Damascus. SANA (Syria) and Jerusalem Post and Press TV (Tehran)

Israel’s motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

As is their usual practice, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the attack took place. Some analysts are saying that the large explosions occurred because the target of the attacks was several large weapons stores. Syria’s army was using to those weapons to attack rebels in Syria, but it’s possible that Israel believed that some of those weapons were to be transferred to Lebanon’s Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 that largely ended in stalemate. However, it’s known that Iran has been supplying rockets and other weapons to Hezbollah in preparation for the next war. Israel has taken steps where possible to prevent other weapons from reaching Hezbollah. Missiles and chemical weapons from Syria are particular concerns.

In statements to Israel’s parliament (Knesset) in December, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described Israel’s policy in Syria:

“Israel has no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria. Our policies and our positions are very clear and are based on three red lines: we will not allow any harm to come to Israeli citizens, we will not allow any harm to the sovereignty of the State of Israel and we will not allow the smuggling of sophisticated weapons or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon for Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah’s major arms supply route between Damascus and Lebanon’s border has been targeted on several occasions in recent years by Israeli air strikes. This has included strikes on warehouses and convoys of weapons. Reuters and Israel National News and Middle East Monitor

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Syria, al-Mazzeh military airport, Russia, Iran, Bashar al-Assad, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Avigdor Liberman
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13-Jan-17 – Russia Is Changing Tactics In Syria

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

By January 10, 2017, Russia had deployed more Su-25 SM3 fighter bombers in Syria and withdrawn four Su-24 Ms. This is a signal that Russia is changing tactics in combating Islamist terrorism. The Su-25 has been modernized in multiple stages, resulting in the models Su-25 SM/SM2/SM3, with the latest modernization taking place beginning in 2013. The Russian Air Force has about 150 of the upgraded Su-25 aircraft (SM3/UBM2), along with another 120 non-upgraded Su-25s. The aircraft is powered by two RD-195 engines, with a thrust of 4,500 kgf, and has a maximum speed of 975 km/h.

Interestingly, at the time they attempted to impose a ceasefire in Syria, on February 27, 2016, Russia withdrew from Syria almost all the fifteen Su-25SM3s. As the fighter jets were over 20 years old and had each had over 200 flying hours in Syria, they were sent to Russian aviation repair shops for inspection. This is a part of  testing military equipment and train the Russian military under field conditions, with a view to defending against a NATO invasion of Russia [1].

What is the nature of Russia’s change in tactics in fighting Islamișt terrorists in Syria? Until now, Russia has attacked targets in Syria using cruise missiles launched from submarines, surface warships and long-range bombers. On the other hand, the Russian tactical bombers that operated from the Hmeymim base in Syria executed missions that were planned in advance, after unmanned reconnaissance located targets hours or days earlier. As a rule, these targets were not very mobile and were at a safe distance from civilians and the Syrian army troops. The Russian aircraft were armed with just two bombs or air-to-ground rockets, laser-beam guided by GPS and TV/IR, with the bombings executed from altitudes of 8,000–10,000m.

Russia’s change of tactics in Syria means that Russian aircraft will be tasked almost exclusively with close support missions (CAS — close air support) in order to create breaches in the Islamist rebels’ defense that will permit the swift advance of Syrian troops. Now, the Su-25 SM3 is the best suited aircraft for such missions. Most close support missions will be carried out at night, without timely, detailed information from unmanned reconnaissance drones, and will consist of lengthy patrols at high altitudes in areas located over territory held by Islamists rebels, using the “target hunting” approach. Once a target is identified, the pilot initiates the procedure for attacking it.

However, close support missions require perfect coordination in time and space with the military on the ground, which entails the use of Russian officers specializing in routing Su-25 MTS aircraft and firsthand target identification from the ground up. First, they identify the position of the pilots carrying out close support, by radio and, what is obligatory at night, by an invisible laser beam device that is detected by optical sensors onboard the Russian aircraft. Then the flight controller/targeting officer [NATO: Forward Air Controller; US: Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)] uses the same instrument to mark with a laser beam the target that is to be hit. This provides the maximum accuracy in hitting moving targets like Toyota trucks armed with machine guns or sniper teams and rebel support bases located in the lower floors of buildings.

The electro-optical SOLT-25 system (with laser, TV and IR sensors) mounted in the nose supports the FLIR [forward-looking infrared] and the GLONASS navigation systems, for seeking and identifying targets from high altitudes for night strikes. For attacking targets, the Su-25 SM3 has the PrNK-25SM Bars navigation/attack suite for central fire control, using the SOLT-25 electro-optical system and a rangefinder with a laser marking instrument to direct precision weaponry. In the process of “target hunting,” guided bombs or small arms are rarely used, with unguided rockets and onboard cannon most often preferred. The SM3 Su-25 has a double-barreled GSh-30-2 type rotary cannon, 30 mm caliber firing at a rate of 2000 rounds/minute, using incendiary/armor piercing projectiles, incendiary/explosives and AP-T projectiles (Armour-Piercing Tracers) with a tungsten core.

The Su-25 SM3 has ten mounting points in the wings and fuselage which can take extra tanks and guns weighing 4340 kg. When “target hunting,” the Su-25 SM3 is equipped with eight to ten UB-32/57 blocks, each armed with thirty-two S-5M/K reactive projectiles (57mm caliber), or B-8M1, B-13L, PU-O-25 rocket pods, armed with rockets of 80mm, 122mm and 266mm caliber. An attack consists of launching a salvo of cannon projectiles or reactive projectiles at a dive angle of 15–30 degrees, from heights of 1000–3000m. The “target hunting” approach makes it possible to execute several attacks on different targets.

However, while they are much more effective than bombing runs planned in advance, close air support missions are extremely risky, as below the altitude of 5,000m all aircraft are vulnerable to MANPADS, and below 3,000m they are vulnerable to heavy machine guns and to 12.7mm, 14.5mm, 23mm and 30mm caliber cannons, which are in the possession of the Islamist rebels. The Russian Su-25 fighter jet is the equivalent of the American A-10, both having titanium armor weighing in at 500 kg, with a thickness of 15–30mm, which resists 23mm-caliber projectiles and carbon fiber projectiles (which produces fragmentation).

To protect against surface-to-air missiles, the Su-25 SM3 is equipped with the Vitebsk-25 system, similar to the Spectra ESM one seen on the French Rafale fighters. It locks in on the aircraft based on the enemy radar, calculates its azimuth and the type of aircraft, and after that jams the signals on many frequencies, using the L-370-3S integrated system. The Vitebsk-25 also protects the Sukhoi-25 SM3 against IR- and laser-guided missiles, including ground-to-air missiles (MANPADs), using the APP-50 passive jamming subsystem that generates infrared decoy flares.


[1]. HOW COULD THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA END IN 2017? (https://southfront.org/how-could-the-conflict-in-syria-end-in-2017/).

[2]. Who Forced Russia to Intervene in Syria? (https://www.algora.com/Algora_blog/?p=163).

13-Jan-17 World View — Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal
  • History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal

A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)
A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)

Negotiations in Geneva to reunite Cyprus ended on Thursday evening without a deal, but with plans to resume after January 18.

Almost two years of peace talks between leaders of Greek side and the Turkish side of the island of Cyprus have led to what Europe and Turkey will be the final negotiations leading to a united Cyprus.

Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a “no-man’s land,” a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island.

The capital city Nicosia is in the center of Cyprus and is partitioned as well. While partitions of other cities, including Beirut, Belfast and Berlin, have disappear in the last few decades, the partition remains in Nicosia.

It’s not known whether Thursday’s negotiations brought the two sides close together, but the two most difficult issues are these:

  • Security. There are 30,000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus, to protect the Turkish population from the Greeks, a vestige of the 1974 war. The Turks would like them to remain, but the Greeks would like them to be gone. At any rate, the question of protect the Greeks from the Turks and the Turks from the Greeks would have to be resolved for a unification deal.
  • Right of Return. Many people were forced to flee across the “no-man’s land” border during the 1974 war, and had to give up their homes. In most cases, it was Greeks that lost their homes in this way. Questions to be negotiated are whether people can reclaim their homes, or whether they should be compensated in some way.

According to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the talks on Thursday showed progress, but there is no “quick fix.” Cyprus Mail and AP and Cyprus Mail

History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

Because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has been repeatedly conquered throughout history by different groups, including the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Persians. It was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1571, but was conquered by Britain in 1878 and annexed in 1914.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960 under a power-sharing agreement between the Greeks and the Turks. Three countries — Britain, Greece and Turkey — would be responsible for guaranteeing security in the new country.

Violence erupted soon after. In 1974, Greece’s military junta backed a coup against the president of Cyprus, leading to a civil war. Turkey responded by invading northern Cyprus. About 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were driven from the Turkish-occupied north, and about 45,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south for the north.

Since ancient times, at least as far back as the time around 1200BC that the face of Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, Greece and Turkey (Anatolia) have been at war repeatedly, in one of the most violent ethnic fault lines in history. Turkey’s greatest victory over Greece occurred in 1453, when the Ottoman’s conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) and destroyed the Greek Byzantine Empire. None of these wars has been forgotten by the participants. Guardian (London) and BBC

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Nicosia, António Guterres, Helen of Troy
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

12-Jan-17 World View — Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend
  • Pakistan’s army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend

Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others
Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others

In separate incidents, four secular anti-military activists in Pakistan have disappeared within the last few days, apparently kidnapped by the army. All of them actively post on social media, to the discomfort of the army.

Asim Saeed, who was abducted from his home in Lahore on Friday, and Ahmad Waqas Goraya, who was abducted the same day, both help run the Mochi Facebook page critical of the military.

Another man, Ahmed Raza Naseer, was taken from his family’s shop on Saturday. Naseer suffers from polio.

The disappearance on Saturday of Salman Haider, a lecturer at Fatima Jinnah Women University, was brought all four abductions to national attention. Haider frequently wrote about how troubled Pakistan’s society it, with government security forces targeting Shias and ethnic Hazaras in Balochistan. Haider also wrote about other people whom the army the abducted, and that perhaps angered the army the most.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for country-wide protests against the abductions:

“HRCP is greatly alarmed by Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed disappearing on January 4, Salman Haider on Friday and Ahmed Raza Naseer on Saturday. All four are known for airing their views, sometime critical of authority, extremism and intolerance, on social media.

Pakistan has never been a particularly safe country for rights activists. Many have been killed, injured, abducted and threatened for their work… The events of the last week demonstrate that the dangers already extend to digital spaces. We cannot be sure if the four cases are connected but expect that would be worth looking into as well.

Threats and violence have never deterred Pakistan’s activists from speaking their mind and flagging issues that conscious citizens must raise in a civilized society. We know that the events of the last few days, will not change that. At the same time, however, HRCP also implores the government to wake up to its obligation to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders and activists.”

The abductions seem to be working. In the last two days, several activists have closed down their online accounts.

Last year, Haider wrote a poem about the abductions. The following is a translated excerpt from the Urdu:

“Now friends of my friends are going missing,
Then it will be my friends, and then,
It will be my file [of me missing] that
my father will take to the courts.”

Unfortunately, Haider’s prediction came true on Saturday. Dawn (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and The Diplomat

Pakistan’s army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

According to Pakistan’s Human Rights ministry, over 1000 dead bodies of suspected armed separatists and political activists have been found in Balochistan over the past six years.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) says it has recorded 1,200 cases of dumped bodies and there are many more it has not been able to document. VBMP says that most of the bodies were activists who, one day, were picked up by authorities and were never seen again.

However, Pakistan’s government claims that they had nothing to do with the killings. According to one provincial official: “There are several explanations. Sometimes insurgents are killed in a gunfight with law enforcement agencies but their bodies are found later. Militant groups also fight among each other and don’t bury their dead fighters. Then there are tribal feuds, organized crime and drug mafia.” BBC and International Business Times (London) and India Times

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Pakistan, Salman Haider, Asim Saeed, Ahmad Waqas Goraya, Mochi Facebook page, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, HRCP, Balochistan, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, VBMP
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.