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OPFOR discussion on possible Syrian tactics?


c3k
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Well, I got the spelling wrong, but here is a first rate, heavily illustrated and deeply documented paper on the E-bomb (electronic bomb) by Mr. Kopp, whose technical credentials are impressive.

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/kopp/apjemp.html

BTW, I've been "on" about these matters because I used to deal with them as potential threats. Few people even begin to understand how the combination of microminiaturization and the shift to composites has created incredible equipment vulnerabilities which simply didn't exist when, for example, aircraft and missiles were made of aluminum and large scale integration was all but unheard of.

Every day brings more and more of both vulnerable technologies into the field, and there are already tests underway of AFVs whose primary envelope is made of composites. They've been shown on The Learning Channel. And we haven't even discussed Land Warrior or whatever interim system is being fielded.

Regards,

John Kettler

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EMP effects have been detected with FAE ( fuel Air explosive) type weapons, where, as well as the normal thermobaric effects the detonation creates a pulse.

This has lead to speculation that a MOAB type weapon could be optimised to produce a localised Blackout, as an alternative to conventional bombing. Same effect, less physical damage.

The best delivery method for this available to the Syrians, could be a Scud or similar, however given the re-enty speed it is doubtful that a FAE would work as the vapour would be dispersing at 1,000mps.

The US has been developing a microwave antipersonel weapon for some time, currently being tested on a modified Cobra helicopter. ( a recent article in New Scientist warned of the dangers to civilians with the likes of pace makers), and these do seem to open the way for directional battlefield weapons.

Perhaps the most obvious would be as a defencive aid for armour which when alerted by a laser or IR detector, directed a microwave beam to disrupt an incoming ATGM or it's firing unit.

However I doubt that these are within Syrias graps for decades. The uS on the other hand is probably pretty close to being able to integrate something similar in to JSTARs to allow them to disrupt individual vehicles they locate at long range, it can afterall already detect the EM from a vehicle engine .

What the Syrians may be able to do is jam GPS signals close to the ground, as this can be done fairly easily although it doesn't do much more than increase the CEP of an incoming bomb back towards conventional accuracy.

A possible urban way to do this would be to fit domestic satallite dishes with a transmitter as well as a reciever and to turn them all on across Damascus using a transponder system. This could also make hundreds of dishes across the city appear to be ZSU type radars.

Oh course this relies on the city still having power.

Well John, Happy now. It's not that we don't know about this stuff, it's just that we don't see the Syrians as being able to deploy it in any meaningful or effective way.

Peter.

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Peter Cairns,

Are you going to tell me the Syrians lack stores where simple off-the-shelf items like batteries, portable transmitters, small satellite dishes, etc. could be bought? If not, then the problem is as real as our noses, and not in some faraway future, either. Homemade RF weapons could be built and deployed within hours, should the Syrians choose to do so. And even ad hoc units could cause untold disruption and havoc, especially if used in a coordinated manner with other weapons. Example follows.

SBCT enters a city in mounted posture. Point elements are allowed to pass unhindered, whereupon Hamid pops up and "frys" the command vehicle (IDed from the antenna farm), after which Abdul and his merry men let fly against that vehicle, their ambush, in turn, signaling the general ambush against the entire Stryker formation. First indication of trouble on the victim's end is likely to be partial to total collapse of radios, digital data links, computers, vetronics, etc., hamstringing a) situational awareness, B) ability to mount an effective response to the rapidly following conventional ambush, and c) ability to warn either subordinates or higher HQ. The weapon that starts the ball rolling would look like a rifle stock with a DTV dish mounted on it and could go anywhere an infantryman could. Hamid could easily arrange it so that he was never seen, for all he needs is an RF transparent barrier to achieve this.

GPS jammers have been available from Russian sources for years, causing such a scare that major antijamming features have been incorporated into U.S. GPS guidance systems in response.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Syrians have largely abandoned the armour heavy doctrine, though they have modernized about two regiments worth of T-72s (done by Italians). they are into light forces these days.

since Russians wrote off 70-80% of the Syrian debts, the Syrians have bought quite a number of modern Russian weapons systems. deals include anti-armour nasties like Metis-M and Kornet. airwise they have purchased stuff like Iglas and Pantsirs. artillery has gotten modern ammunition and fire control systems. i really don't see much need for desperate, if imaginative, tactics like using artillery in direct fire or massing AA machineguns.

US has plenty of counterbattery radars and they are quite impressive. theoretically US forces should be able to detect enemy batteries up to 50km range. in practice there is more to counterbattery fires & tactics than just detecting enemy fires and then reacting immediately, especially as the US forces are in offence & pursuit and are going to have long logistic lines in hostile terrain & the Syrian forces have large number of self-propelled artillery & MLRS assets. Syrians can be expected to be clumsy and static, and they should not be able to utilize their artillery fully, and are certainly going to suffer from US counterbattery fires, but they still should be able to use artillery. there are many ways to mess with counterbattery fires, like mixing of calibres and pulling individual tubes aside from batteries.

i guess the biggest question is how far the Syrian reforms have progressed by 2007 and how united the Syrians would be. invading forces have huge mobility and firepower advantage over the mostly poorly trained & static Syrian forces, so Syrians would have to be able to guess what the enemy objectives and lines of advance would be.

no doubt Syrians would suffer huge casulties, but in my opinion Syrians have good chances of being able to cause considerable losses to the invading forces. in key role would be the better trained light infantry forces equipped with modern weapons, fighting delaying battles & supporting stubborn resistance at key locations. Syrian armour would be used in support role or in counterattacks against already depleted enemy forces. Syrian artillery fires would not be fully available, but they would be there.

it's not as given that the rigid & mostly poorly trained Syrian military has been able to change by 2007, but there are clear signs that they are at least trying to change. wether or not that is enough is pretty much up to the scenario.

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John, there is knowing and doing.

Since the mid fifties people have been saying that as the physics is fairly simple and well know you can build an atomic bomb in the basement.

How many have been built, None. Why?, because it's a lot more difficult in practice than in reality, and thats the problem.

You can build a plane in your garage with stuff you buy at the hardware store, but it won't be an F-15, let alone be able to fight one.

There are lkots of clever little tricks, often low tech that a determined and resourceful enemy can deploy, look at the animal traps the Vietcong used. But thats a long way from the kind of thing you are talking about.

A key issue is that of reliability, with these home made ideas you really don't know if they are going to work till combat , hell even ones that have been tested for years sometimes don't work.

undead reindeer cavalry, everthing you said about Syrian artillery si true, but the big issue you have avoided is still that of communications and targeting.

To hit a rapidly moving US force they have to observe target and relay the information. and then be able to lay down the fire on to the correct position.

Add to that the fact that they will have to disperse their artillery for it to have any real chance of putting down a reasonable volume, and that really needs a sophisticated networked C3I system that is beyond them.

If I had plenty of 122mm and 152mm SP's I'd be pretty sure I could take out more Strykers by using them as assault guns in the soviet WW2 way, hidden in the backstreets of Damascus, that by trying to use them as cinventional artillery.

It's about looking at what a weapon can do and the circumstances you find yourself in and adapting.

You Never Fight the Same War Twice, so I don't expect the US to be exactly like they were in OIF, and if I was SYria, I wouldn't loose all my heavy stuff in the open, I'd pull it back in to the towns and cities and make the US fight either on foot or with armour in amounst buildings, where their speed and accuracy can be countered.

Peter.

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Hmmm,

Okay. A Stryker force moves into a town (since as a Syrian I'll let the US live in the remotes). Syrian forces block the main road and sideroads. (Trucks pulled in front, etc.) Now, as the Strykers disembark to fight the ambush, I - the crafty Syrian - light a large oil and tire fueled fire. That's the signal for the remote artillery - a few tubes scattered around in isolated buildings with firing loopholes - to fire pre-arranged strikes. Sure, they'll be toast, but the incoming should help me.

Counterbattery is (US) fired by MLRS units. Tube units do not have the range. The tubes have to continually displace forward in an advance. An MLRS unit can tie-in with counterbattery. The main payload is clusterbombs. So, if my artillery (Syrian) is emplaced in isolated farmhouses, with reinforced roofs, the clusterbombs will have greatly reduced efficacy.

Regards,

Ken

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c3k,

Your doing it again, assuming your opponent is stupid. In such a situation the US would almosst certainly surround the town and observe, with if time was sensitive, the main force bypassing. Hell they might just go round entirely.

If they did enter it would be slowly and on foot with vehicle escorts way back and dsipersed. If you tried to use artillery on that from your disperesed positions it would be sporadic and not hugely effective.

The infantry would split between getting back in the Strykers or in to cover, mostly buildings.

They would then start the hunt for your artillery starting with UAV's and helicopters to hunt down the locations. As you are using multiple dispersed guns, they would know immediately that an MLRS response would be ineffective overkill so they would probably use the likes of A-10's, roving to select individual targets.

Peter.

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undead reindeer cavalry,

i guess we simply disagree about what the Syrian military is capable of. i guess we also disagree why Iraq lost the 2003 war.
Any third world nation that goes up against an attacking first world nation will lose the conventional fight. The only questions are how long and at what cost. Please cite some sources, other than your personal opinion, that would indicate that this position is a flawed one. I've certainly not read anything that would give credibility to your arguments. In fact, everything I've read says the opposite. It is fine to have your own opinion, but if it isn't backed up then what value is it to a discussion such as this?

Now, AFTER the conventional phase is over... that's where things get very interesting for a first world force. The real fight, it would appear from recent history, comes after "major combat operations" have ceased.

have you noticed the news in Jane's that have reported things like the Syrian change of doctrine, and the investments into communications & artillery FCS systems? there was also a good article about Syria in JDW some time ago. they seem to be heavily into light low-signature forces these days.
What of it? They've always tried to be cutting edge. The problem is they don't have the money nor skill to sustain the transition to a force equivalent to a first world force in terms of size and capability. They have started MANY such modernization programs over the years, and none of them have succeeded.

while the majority of Syrian military is outdated and relatively poorly trained, it holds enough of well trained & well equipped forces to offer a good resistance to US invasion.
Sure, which is why I think the Syrian scenario is interesting. But it will still ultimately not be enough to defeat an invasion.

that is all that is needed, for US can not take considerable casualties & a prolonged campaign.
That's a load of crap. Even if the US didn't clean up in a matter of weeks (I'd guess 6-8 worst case), they would NEVER pull out. Open your eyes to what is going on in Iraq. We're coming up on three solid years of occupation duty that has resulted in more death, equipment loss, prestige loss, and sucking of resources than the conventional phase took... and yet there is no end in sight to the US' involvement. The notion that the US won't stay in a fight if it lasts for more than a few weeks and some guys get killed is pure fantasy. There has not been a war yet that the US has run away from like that. Small peace and stability ops where it was clear that there was a decision between pulling out and getting much more involved... yeah, sure, there are examples of that to point at. But an invasion of Syria would not fall into that category, so they are not relevant.

properly trained light infantry equipped with modern weapons and with decent artillery support will seriously ruin the day for any 1st world mechanized force. units that are srongly bound to their vehicles are the easiest prey for such light infantry units. mechanized units that are on a "thunder run" will get absolutely eliminated.
Didn't help the Iraqis, and they had a lot more stuff than the Syrians in both Gulf Wars, but especially the first one.

i didn't say Syrians should have a static defence. i said they shouldn't move vehicles on open ground in masses.
Same difference when the opposition has complete and total control of the skies. Trying to redeploy even a company sized force would take days, if not weeks, if it was to scoot vehicles around one at a time. The position being defended would already be bypassed or overrun by then, therefore making such theories impractical in reality.

i don't think Syrians should go guerilla from day one, because guerilla units are typically too small & disconnected to be able to stop US forces from taking Damascus.
Again, your premiss is based on an unsupportable assumption that there is a way to stop the US from taking Damascus. There is none. And I once again challenge you to cite any credible source that would support your assertion. Even if you find one, I could probably find 1000 to counter it.

i had understood the CMSF scenario wrong. i thought that the US force would be built around Stryker brigades. now i know better. ?
The forces under the player's control, yes. They won't be the only units under the player's control though, and obviously in a real war they would be a minority of forces. The entire US military has only 6 SBCTs total, and 2 will not likely be ready for combat by the time CM:SF comes around. 4 SBCTs, without air cover, is the kind of thing you were seeing going up against Syria?

Steve

[ December 12, 2005, 08:17 PM: Message edited by: Battlefront.com ]

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c3k

Counterbatter radar: limited numbers of systems, limited detection azimuth. Unknown how many incoming trajectories can be tracked and turned into targets at a time. Admittedly, any conventional artillery use by Syrians would be suicidal.
"Limited" in the sense that there are never enough of anything to go around. But any other use of the term is incorrect. There are plenty of systems in the field. A SBCT's organic Artillery Battalion has a section that is assigned the task of counter battery fire. Not only using the SBCT's organic UAVs, fire detection radar, and of course eyeball recon... but to get information out of higher and/or attached assets. So after going over what SBCT has at its disposal... I don't think "limited" can be used to describe the capability of counter battery fire. Here is one passage out of FM 3 21 31:

"Maximize ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) Assets. The SBCT maximizes the capabilities of its ISR assets by ensuring that collection requirements specify what needs to be collected, where it needs to be collected, who collects it, and when it needs to be collected and reported in order for the SBCT to successfully accomplish the mission. The cavalry squadron (RSTA) and other ISR assets compliment each other with their different capabilities. For example, a joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) may have gaps in its area coverage because of terrain features that interrupt line of sight. Once these gaps are identified, they are covered by another asset such as a UAV. Each asset's strength compensates for another asset's weakness. Cross-cueing--using one system to trigger another--is a way to maximize the capabilities of ISR assets. JSTARS only indicates that something is moving. This indication may trigger the employment of a UAV to positively identify the target. Cross-cueing--using one system to trigger another--is a way to maximize the capabilities of ISR assets. JSTARS only indicates that something is moving. This indication may trigger the employment of a UAV to positively identify the target. "

This is also from the manual:

" The SBCT uses a counterfire radar (CFR) capability to protect the force during missions in urban terrain. The primary purpose of the CFR is to detect, locate, monitor, and report hostile locations of enemy mortar, artillery, and other indirect fire assets. Its secondary mission is to provide observation for friendly fires and to provide "eyes on target" or "did-hit data" results of friendly indirect fires. The US Army’s inventory of available CFRs include the AN/TPQ-36 countermortar and the AN/TPQ-37 counterbattery radars. The operating location of the CFR in urban operations may not be within the SBCT’s operational perimeter. To improve its effectiveness and reduce masking, it may be necessary to position the radar outside the urban area. "

Counter battery capabilities are not limited to a handful of radar tracking systems. After all, there has been counter battery fire since there has been batteries to fire at ;)

(Doctrinal battery layout, etc.) A better (?) tactic may be individual guns in hidden, hardened emplacements; rolled out for single shot missions. (See the North Korean model.) Less effective for sure.
Extremely less effective. As you say, it can prolong the life of the gun, but the effect that one gun has will be minimal at best. Harassing fire would be just about all that it could do. At a tactical level this could be quite disruptive, so as a tactic it holds value in this regard.

Read about the use of mortars and artillery in the battle for Nasiriyah. Plenty of it was used for the 6 or so hours of the primary pitched battle. It caused, perhaps, a dozen casualties in a battalion sized attacking force. And this was a major, prepared ambush. Yet the Iraqi artillery was only marginally effective in suppressing one part of one portion of the attacking foe AFTER they had taken their objective. By the end of the battle the US forces had their objectives and had largely silenced the dispersed enemy fire. So tactically semi-effective in one area, ineffective in others, and ultimately ineffective.

Sound based detection systems: they seem to be good, and getting better. However, they also seem to be best utilized in a low-intensity role. Multiple contacts throw them off. (The sniper finder; a microphone, videocamera, computer setup, works great on individual shooters. Not so well in a firefight.)
Correct. Remember, one of the reasons first world forces are so lethal on a conventional battlefield is that they don't rely on one, overtaxed methodology to achieve results. They have many systems in place and their forces are quite able to use them. In fact, some of the backup SOPs have proven superior to the standard ones in certain circumstances. Not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in previous conflicts as well. A well trained, intelligent, and motivated force will find a way to get the job done. Certainly the Insurgents have been proving this rule.

UAV's: In the entire OIF, the Army had A SINGLE HUNTER UAV for the entire corps. (Yes, there are other types of UAV's, but they are extremely specialized for extremely narrow uses, both technically and doctrinally. We are not at the point where a platoon leader can zoom into any overhead view he wants.)
UAVs are becoming as common as #2 pencils. In fact, the SBCT has a dedicated organic UAV capabilities. No, they aren't armed (yet), but that isn't the main purpose of UAVs. Surveillance is. You don't need an armed UAV if you have artillery and maned air assets at your disposal. All you need to do is locate the enemy and then you can deal with it.

Electronic Warfare/Intel: Large antenna farms and static HQ's will be destroyed. Distributed comms are the name of the game. Cellphones are great.
This is true for the Syrians, of course. In theory it is also true for first world forces, but as of yet nobody has figured out how to make that a reality.

The US is having LARGE coordination problems in Iraq with conficting demands in the EW field. Jamming blocks friendly frequencies. Monitoring, to take advantage of enemy comms, allows their use. Other more technical issues. EW is not a magic panacea.
Correct. The wide spread distances and the fact that most ops now are in urban terrain contribute heavily to communications problems. At the tactical level, during a pitched battle, these problems are less pronounced.

Remember, just because a manufacturer can show that a given system is capable of something, doesn't mean it will work that way in combination with others, or in actual use.
Very true. The same works in reverse. Some things that were never supposed to work as designed did. The US forces also found some very innovative work arounds for various communication problems, such as sat phones, off the shelf radios that were better than mil-spec stuff, and other such things. There are also a lot of very interesting things in development right now that are based on lessons learned 3 years ago. Some will likely be in the field before CM:SF's timeframe.

And remember... whatever problem the first world force has, the third world force will have a lot more of. This doesn't necessarily mean that the third world force is inferior, nor that the first world force won't have significant problems, rather it means that the first world force has more options to start out with. Therefore, more flexibility.

There are plenty of shortcomings in the modern US arsenal for a motivated, intelligent opponent to take advantage of. Admittedly, most of these areas are at the extreme ends, in the seams, or otherwise limited. But they do exist.
Correct. And for the guys riding in a Humvee or getting read to eat in their mess hall... the effects of these tricks and clever exploitations of first world shortcomings can be deadly. But it is highly unlikely to change the strategic picture, or even affect the tactical one to a noticeable degree.

Typically, to counter enemy (U.S.) air threats, you'd rely on AAA and SAM assets. The Iraqis knew what happens to those units. They always seem to get destroyed. ?
Correct. They are also expensive and difficult to maintain. Some of them are also extremely difficult to use effectively. Especially when the enemy has the ability to come in and whack command and control centers before the attached systems are able to do much of anything.

The Iraqis used low-tech, widely dispersed, shoulder fired small arms and machineguns to stop a heavy attack helicopter regiment. That was not anticipated. Thereafter, Army aviation assiduously avoided built-up areas.
Correct. Current US doctrine calls for minimal use of rotary aircraft in built up terrain. However, the successes of rotary aircraft completely overshadow their limitations. The more important question is one of procurement. Does it make sense to spend so much money on the expensive systems, or will less expensive ones do the trick just as well? But this question is not relevant to anything being discussed here.

Why wouldn't the Syrians put a man or two on EVERY SINGLE roof in a town? How effective would a Hellfire be in stopping the incoming fire? Better yet, would that tactic deny Helo support to US ground forces in and around that town?
This would be a "gamey tactic" as someone put it. What you're talking about is committing a large amount of one's force STRICTLY to anti-helo duty. Well, what happens when a dismounted enemy infantry force comes into town supported by armor and the helos stay out of range? Like in CM, gamey tactics tend to crumble when they don't run up against exactly what they expected to. It's why gamey players don't like randomly generated scenarios and force sides :D

Steve

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Hi John,

Am confused here. How is it I make post after post on various advanced weapons which are readily available or readily buildable by many people, yet find absolutely zero response to what would be high leverage weapons capable of substantially negating many of the well documented U.S. advantages? Is it that no one else has any awareness or expertise concerning them? Is it that it's too disturbing to contemplate? Impossible to model? I rather doubt I've stunned the lot of you into silence, so why will no one acknowledge the elephant in the room?
None of the above for me smile.gif I just don't see these as being relevant. Will some of these things, and many others, be used in small numbers here and there over an extended period of time (i.e. occupation)? Yeah, I am sure lots of interesting stuff will pop up. But in significant quantities during the conventional phase of the attack? I doubt it. Main reason...

If I were planning the presumptive attack, you'd better believe I'd be seriously concerned about these matters. Were I the Syrians, I'd be moving heaven and earth to get those capabilities.
Gamey thinking :D In case you hadn't noticed, people love to ignore the obvious and learn only from their own mistakes. Case in point... Syria :D If I were in charge of Syria after Gulf War One I would have disbanded my entire airforce, sold off the equipment to the highest bidder, and invested the money and savings somewhere else. I would stop pretending to maintain all my aging armor and instead focus on a heavy infantry defense force with a strong, state of the art rapid reaction armored force. I'd then spend the money necessary to train and maintain it instead of wasting tons of resources on forces that have next to no practical value on the modern battlefield. I'd also radically downsize the active Army and redouble, then redouble again, efforts to create a solid NCO and junior officer cadre for the force I intend on retaining. Senior officers would be trained abroad and would return to form cadres within brand new schools with doctrine dedicated to defeating any enemy daring to threaten us. I'd probably still have wads of cash left over from the cost cutting moves, despite the increased spending elsewhere, so I'd use that money to purchase whatever was determined to have a "force multiplying" effect in the predicted battles to come.

To me this is the best and most obvious plan for any rink-a-dink petty dictatorship that wants to remain in the game long term. But no nation I know of is doing this, and certainly Syria isn't. Why? Because it isn't a good idea? That's poppycock... it's a very basic, sound strategy which most nations sorta try to do all the time. They just don't jump in with both feet. Because it isn't practical? It is certainly more practical than the half assed, expensive, and pointless systems they are trying to support now. Because it isn't feasible within a short period of time? BS. In five years I bet Syria would greatly increase their defensive capability with no short term decline (you can't decrease the effectiveness of something which is ineffective to start with!). So why not?

Because it takes vision, dedication, the ability to counteract decades of bad thinking, undermining people that don't want to be underminded, and other stuff. But the most important thing it does is signal to its neighbors that you are no longer a military threat to them. In the dog eat dog world of petty dictatorships neighbored by more dictatorships, this isn't seen as a good thing. One must be able to threaten outside of ones borders as well as keep the fear level inside the borders high. And the smart path I just outlined does exactly the opposite. So by and large things remain just as they were before.

And that is why I don't think we'll see a wholesale shift of Syrian tactics and weaponry over the next two years. Small shifts, sure. But that's about it.

Steve

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Steve,

another reason is that no country has the luxury of being able to optimize their armed forces only to fight against one kind of enemy. An army must fit in multiple kinds of scenarios, which is why the US still have Abrams' and strategic nuclear weapons lying around and which is also why just abandoning the rusty air and armoured forces could have unexpected results for a military like Syrian army.

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Sergei,

another reason is that no country has the luxury of being able to optimize their armed forces only to fight against one kind of enemy.
That's what I meant about the neighbor thing. To be a credible bully you need to be able to lash out. If you aren't in a position to do that, then you have to basically keep to yourself.

However, I wouldn't call what I came up with as optimizing more than I would rationalizing. The Syrain forces of today, just like any other third world military force, can't win against a first world threat. This might not be a concern if you're only bordered by third world forces. And what might work against a first world force might be beatable by pure brute force of a third world type attack (though I'd say it is unlikely).

Syria, however, is bordered by Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Iraq. The longest part of its border, therefore, is bordered by NATO (Turkey and Iraq). From the other side is Israel, which is certainly a first rate military force. Jordan is undergoing rapid modernization and has solidly thrown its lot in with the West. Lebanon is a vacuum at the moment and is traditionally West leaning. Even if it isn't, Lebanon has an exposed coastline and is bordered by two first world forces itself.

What this means is that, for all practical purposes, Syria is surrounded by first world threats and NO third world threats. Changing its strategy over to surviving a conflict with a first world nation is the only thing it should be looking to do. Threatening neighbors isn't that important any more since doing so will likely mean being hit by a first world military force.

In short, Syria would be foolish to NOT rationalize its forces into a defense optimized for dealing with a first world attack. Fortunately for those who might attack it, I don't think Syria will do this. At least not enough to make a difference during the conventional phase.

Steve

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Originally posted by Sergei:

[QB] You are ignoring internal threats, though. Having tanks and planes can make a world of difference in silencing an uprising or a takeover attempt

You might be able to afford quite a bit of policemen - of the excessively armed and trigger happy variety - with your peace dividend. And maybe enough unconventional stuff to make a 2nd world force look for easier meat.

But I think our dedicated man of vision would just wake up dead one morning as part of a bloodless ("I didn't see any.") palace coup.

Credibility with your neighbors is essential, but credibility within your own "junta" (I think I'm betraying my thoughts on most of the gentlemen running the show in the area) is life itself.

OTOH, a guy who could get Steve's plan through his own people is someone I imagine could cut a deal with a first or second world power to protect him and his nation militarily.

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Originally posted by Tarquelne:

Credibility with your neighbors is essential, but credibility within your own "junta" (I think I'm betraying my thoughts on most of the gentlemen running the show in the area) is life itself.

Well, yes. Giving up any offensive capability would mean for Syrians essentially sending a Christmas card to Tel Aviv saying, "Happy Hanukkah folks, and keep the Golan!" Not the smartest move if you want to legitimize your power among the people and the party.
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Originally posted by Tarquelne:

But I think our dedicated man of vision would just wake up dead one morning as part of a bloodless ("I didn't see any.") palace coup.

I got one better. Our man of vision would be rotting in the ground from when the showy bully who actually became dictator put one in the back of his head 20 years ago. Lets be honest, people don't get to be dictator through prudent defensive minded means.

Syria is in a bit of pickle strategically, no doubt. Here is what I'd do if I thought there was a good chance the country I was ruling was going to get freedomized in 18 months or so. *I* (not that guy in charge in 2007 of the CMSF timeline would) certainly want to have all of this in place before pulling (or giving any significant support to) any terrorist bull**** likely to stir up the international response on the scale seen in CMSF.

I'm assuming there are 3 main components to the armed forces:

1) Regular Army: Not to hot, but lots of them

2) Advanced Forces: Special Forces, Special Republican Guard, what have you. Decent quality, but not terribly large.

3) Irregular: Fedayeem Sadam, Secret Police, or whatever the (presumably) Islamic forces that couped the current Assad government have. Relatively small, training is perhaps not great, but motivated. Loyal.

The key is the paradigm shift to fighting a long-term unconventional war. The idea of the opening "active" combat stage isn't to defeat the allied (for lack of a better term) and kick them back over the border. That’s just not gonna happen for reaons Steve has pretty clearly laid out. The goal is to get the ball rolling on public opinion both domestically and in the allied countries. This can be accomplished by making things as messy as possible. This means urban(ized) warfare. MOUT has the advantages of:

1) Infrastructure damage: You aren’t going to be keeping it, might as well make the rebuilding as difficult as you can.

2) Civilian casualties: Get the average Syrian personally involved and reduce popular support in allied countries

3) Gives a fighting chance of killing allied soldiers: Not the main objective at this stage, but it never hurts to get the ball rolling.

Remember: All we are trying to do is turn Muhammad Six-pack against the allied forces at this point. He really isn't going to care if those were Allied or Syrian shells that destroyed his house and/or killed family.

The real key is the irregular forces and their loyalty. I would divide them roughly in half. I would put the first half with the regular army units to keep them in line. I'm talking serious Soviet commissar sh*t here. Officers can expect to very quickly and very brutally be held responsible for the failings of their men. I imagine this would not be an effective long term. I do believe it would work long enough for allied forces to bring their firepower to bear (with resulting collateral damage of the built up area) however.

The other half would train in terrorist tactics and lay low until "active" combat ended. The more trusted advanced forces would be heavily fortified in the capital for the final push.

So yes, allied forces would crush my army with a greater or lesser degree of ease (depending on how built up the areas of fighting were as well as the effectiveness of the commissars) But what would they inherit? A shattered country with a population seriously pissed off at them with terrorists waiting to spring up and train the pissed off masses. I think we've seen that the western democracies just don't have the stomach to make the sacrifices necessary to put down a large country wide rebellion.

I think that all of this has happened on a much smaller, less severe, scale in Iraq more or less by accident. I believe that a strategy based on actively bringing this about would give the invading forces a significantly worse starting point that we had in May of 2003.

[ December 12, 2005, 10:57 PM: Message edited by: Dillweed ]

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So uhhh, I think this may support the statement "Why play as the Syrians"

Seeing as the game is mainly about the high intensity part of combat, as in the initial phases of the invasion and not the much more even (And maybe more interesting from what I've been reading in this thread) low intensity occupation, it probably will be one-sided to a very large degree.

Now, having things be uneven isn't a game breaker, as most real world scenarios aren't exactly perfectly balanced. But in such an apparently extreme situation as this, really, what point is there playing as the Syrians?

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Styeve,

Well I have to say I more or less agree with everyrthing you said except one, I am seriously concerned about the belief that you can't stop them taking Damascus.

In the case of Bagdhad, the bulk of the regular army was out of the picture by the time the US entered the city, destroyed or bypassed.

If however the strategy adopted is to pull alot of all be it antequated armour and artillery in to the city, then it's a different picture. If we get a Leningrad or Stalingrad, then it all changes.

A city the size of Damascus isn't Fallugha(?). and if it has a determined defence and the backing of the population it could be a tough nut to crack.

Damascus is said to be the oldest inhabited city in the world, over 4,500 years. It is one of the worlds heritage jewels and contains the worlds first and I believe oldest Mosque.

It is riddled with both ancient backstreets and sprawling unplanned suburbs.

In short there are miriad issues in any assault and capture.

Dillweed.

You haven't mentioned nationalism. Huge numbers of Syrians have done military service and like most arab nations even if they hate the regeme, they love their country. I am not saying they would suddenly turn in to an army overnight, but it is a big mistake to discount them.

Look at Germany in WW2, " Right or Wrong, My Country", was a far greater motivator that the Nazi's, and as for Russia, It's remembered as " The Great Patriotic War", because it was patriotism not communism that drove peole on.

Peter.

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Originally posted by Peter Cairns:

everthing you said about Syrian artillery si true, but the big issue you have avoided is still that of communications and targeting.

i don't know if you noticed, but like i wrote, artillery fire control systems (and modern ammo) is one of the things Syrians have apparently bought from Russia recently.

If I had plenty of 122mm and 152mm SP's I'd be pretty sure I could take out more Strykers by using them as assault guns in the soviet WW2 way, hidden in the backstreets of Damascus, that by trying to use them as cinventional artillery.

if you had plenty of ATGMs wouldn't you rather use them?
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TheNathan,

So uhhh, I think this may support the statement "Why play as the Syrians"
The problem with discussing the potential Syrian capability is people constantly get confused between tactical possibilities vs. what is strategically possible. Tactically the Syrians can put up a very good fight. Especially if the US player isn't very good. Boot up CMBB and play a scenario on the defensive with an inadequate force against the AI and see how well you do by comparison :D Since CM:SF is a TACTICAL wargame, the challenge at that level is the only thing that is important.

Strategically, however, things are quite different. Long term the country might be able to shake off the invaider, but not the invasion. The country will fall to a first world military force, end of story.

Think of it this way... would a strategic level wargame, where you move around brigades and divisions around, be interesting and fun for most people if the setting were Syria 2007? I don't think so at all. Not from either side! But we're talking about a tactical level wargame where you are commanding a company or two, right there with every second and every decision counting. HUGE difference. What does it matter if the Syrians ultimately lose the conventional war?

BTW, we had the same off base concerns when we announced CMBB. People thought the game wouldn't be any fun until 1943 timeframe because the Soviets always lost their battles up until then. That in and of itself was incorrect, but even when true the Germans usually had a tough fight before winning.

Peter,

I do believe Damascus would be a pretty tough fight if the Syrians wished it to be. Baghdad would have been as well if the forces deployed there didn't (mostly) run away. So the question is... what sort of forces would remain and remain effective by the time the invaider got to Damascus? Look at a map and it is plainly obvious that by the time Damascus was reached the rest of the country would be overtaken already. That is bound to do bad things for morale, logistics, and what not. We might even see a repeat of Baghdad with near total military collapse, though I don't think it will be quite that "easy".

My point is, like Baghdad, Damascus is simply a POSSIBLE major headache. In reality its bark might be a lot worse than its bite.

Steve

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Steve,

if in the 2007 scenario the Syrian reforms have not worked, then certainly the Syrian forces are doomed. there is no question that Soviet style heavy divisions will be totally wiped out by the invading forces.

i guess the Syrian side in CMSF still has all the Syrian inventory (e.g. Iglas and the new ATGMs) available, so that we users can create battles with different setting?

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URC,

if in the 2007 scenario the Syrian reforms have not worked, then certainly the Syrian forces are doomed. there is no question that Soviet style heavy divisions will be totally wiped out by the invading forces.
Count on the reforms not being in place. First of all, buying a bunch of equipment and swapping out some of the older stuff is the easiest part of a reform. The much more difficult part is changing everything else. People don't like to change the way they think after they have been thinking it for years. Militaries especially. For a similar situation, look back at French, British, and American tank doctrine going into WWII. Despite these nations having some of the most brilliant tank theorists, none of those countries adopted them in any meaningful way. The French even had superior equipment to the Germans, in many ways, and still got solidly beaten. Even within Germany there was a struggle against the pro tank groups, but in this case German did transition to tactics that worked wonders.

So not only do I not think the Syrians have the finances and infrastructure to support a major shift of weaponry (they never have in the past, and the country is worse off now than before in many ways), but they don't have the will to change the rest of the things necessary to use them effectively. In my list of things I mentioned NCO and professional officer schooling. It just isn't going to happen within a few years, or even a few dacades as it would appear.

i guess the Syrian side in CMSF still has all the Syrian inventory (e.g. Iglas and the new ATGMs) available, so that we users can create battles with different setting?
Yes, if the Syrians have a particular weapon in significant quantities, the player will have them available. Something like the BMP 3, which they might have around 100-300 in total, will not make the cut. Out of this number only a handful would likely see action against the player's force, and perhaps only one or two times in a tactical battle worthy of play (i.e. a significant fight). Not worth the effort to include something with this small an impact. Perhaps for a future Module we might, but not CM:SF's initial release.

Steve

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Well, I might agree with you on the CMBB point, except that the technological (And to a certain extent doctrinal) gap between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were far closer than say, the U.S and Syria.

Even in the early days of Barbarossa I can easily repel almost any German attack, given enough time and at least a few AT assets. Having at least a handful of armor makes this almost a done deal, especially if T-34's (or KV's, heh heh) are involved.

The main problem with the Soviet Union's early failures didn't lie in some inherent technological inferiority (As in the case with Syria), nor any inherit German Uberness. It was poor leadership that did alot of Russians in, especially at the strategic level.

Meaning, one can stand more than a fighting chance with a properly armed and led 41 Soviet force against a equivelant or greater German one, but the abilities of a Syrian force in a similar situation would most likely be less than stellar, even with a decent player on the Syrian side.

Now, if this game included both the high intensity and low intesity sides of combat and occupation, I wouldn't have a single problem with this game, in fact I'd opt to enjoy the hell out of it. U.S would most likely dominate in high-intensity, aside from situations involving rough or urban terrain with a suitably prepared Syrian defender, and the low intensity side of things would be much slower and more cerebral, having to carefully plot out ambushes as the Syrian player and preserving as much manpower and material as possible, while the U.S player strives to maintain cohesion amidst the chaos. For some reason the latter seems much more interesting (And a touch more balanced) than say... a stryker unit rolling in and having a bit of a bloody nose (maybe) wiping the floor with the Syrian player.

Further damning the Syrian player is a lack of civilians, although from what I have seen it will be abstracted. Whether or not this works or not has yet to be seen, so I'll reserve any comments or opinions I have on the civilian abstraction until I play the demo. But just an abstraction may not work, as having at least civilian figures in an urban area may make for at some some semblance of balance towards the Syrian player, or at least make an nearly inevitable victory for the U.S side that much more difficult.

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undead reindeer cavalry,

Using armour and SP's in towns doesn't preclude using ATGM's I'd rather not waste them in open country either.

Besides I seem to recall that some of the minimum ranges for ATGM's aren't exactly "short", some aren't armed to almost 100m.

Using one thing doesn't preclude using another, it isn't tank or ATGM, it's wasted tank in the wastes or useful tank in the town.

Steve.

Leningrad and Stalingrad came under siege when most of European Russia was already over run, So I'd on't think I would count on them fading away.

Secondly if the regeme ( if there is one) decided to go for "God and Country", then pulling the Bulk back in to the "holy City" to " defend the People form the Invading Infidel", would

a) avoid it getting pasted in the open, whivh is pretty much inevitable if they stand let alone manouver. and

B) Plays to the people rather nicely.

It also means that even if they only have 200 BMP-3's thats where you'll find them. Nationally they may not be significant but locally well used, they could be nasty. They are versatile and the width compared to an M-1 gives them an urban advantage in the defensive.

Also if the US want to avoid the hot summer and it gets in to say the winter, It snows in Damascus, and the Plateau to the east and Iraq, is cold and wet in the winter.

In that situation it would be firstly uncomfortable for the US and secondly besieging 1.5m civilians might not go down well internationally. Of 15m population almost a third are in only five cities.

Depending on the resistance to the US from the general population and the bulk of the army disperesed around the country I' d think going for the valiant siege and fortifying the big five is the way to go.

By my reading of the CIA world book, the road infrastructure off the main routes is a lot more like Afghanistan than Iraq, and there is as far as I can make out only one road to Iraq, hardly ideal for suppling a siege of a city.

Also if you can pull some stuff north of Damascus in to the mountains where they can move in to the Lebanon, you might be able to do what the Iraqi's are doing from Syria right now.

this is quite good for basics on the cities etc.

http://www.cafe-syria.com

Peter.

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