Russia vs. America in Syria
Russia vs. America in Syria by The Saker for UNZ
The Internet has been buzzing with reactions to the latest Stratfor report about how a military confrontation between Russia and the United States would play out. I did not find the full text, I suppose it is behind a Stratfor paywall or for subscribers only (and, frankly, I have better use for my time and money than to subscribe to that rubbish), but since the same excerpts are quoted everywhere, I might as well list them here and assume that they form the highlights of the article. Here we go (taken from the Business Insider quoting and paraphrasing the original article):
While Russia has some advanced surface-to-air missile systems and very agile fighter aircraft in Syria, it wouldn’t fare well in what would be a short, brutal air war against the US (…) Russia has “about 25 planes, only about ten of which are dedicated to air superiority (Su-35s and Su-30s), and against that they’ll have to face fifth-gen stealth fighters, dozens of strike fighters, F-15s, F-16s, as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers. And of course the vast US Navy and pretty much hundreds of Tomahawks.” “Russians have a lot of air defenses, they’re not exactly defenseless by any means,” Lamrani told Business Insider, “But the US has very heavy air superiority.” Even though individual Russian platforms come close to matching, and in some ways exceed the capability of US jets, it comes down to numbers. If US surveillance detected a mass mobilization of Russian jets in response to the back-and-forth, the US wouldn’t just wait politely for Russians to get their planes in the sky so they can fight back. Instead, a giant salvo of cruise missiles would pour in from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group, much like the April 7 strike on Syria’s Sharyat air base. But this time, the missiles would have to saturate and defeat Russia’s missile defenses first, which they could do by sheer numbers if not using electronic attack craft. Then, after neutering Russia’s defenses, the ships could target the air base, not only destroying planes on the ground but also tearing up the runways, so no planes could take off. At this point US and Coalition aircraft would have free reign to pass overhead and completely devastate Russian forces.
So is the author, Omar Lamrani, right in his assessment? Yes and no. Yes, that is exactly what would happen if the Russians decided to engage their small number of air superiority aircraft to try to prevail over the entire CENCOM and NATO air force for the control of the Syrian skies. And no, simply because the Russians would never do that.
The author of the article, a civilian with no military experience, makes a basic mistake, he assumes that the Russians will act like idiots and fight the kind of war the US would want to impose upon them. That is kind of assumptions most newbies make and which make for excellent propaganda articles. The problem is, of course, that there is absolutely no reason at all why the Russians should collaborate with such a ridiculous scenario. So, let’s get back to basics here.
Question 1: are the Russians in a position of weakness in Syria?
Yes, absolutely. And they know that too. First, the Russians are operating only 2 facilities (Tartus and Khmeimim), far away from home, and the size of their task force in Syria is tiny compared to the huge amount of firepower available to the AngloZionists and their allies. Second, the USA have poured billions of dollars into this region to make sure that the Soviet Union could never successfully invade Iran and not only do they have an immense numerical superiority over the Russians, they also have a world-class network of bases where even more forces can be brought in. Syria is squeezed between CENTCOM to the south and east and NATO to the north and west while the closest Russian forces are in Crimea. The truth is that not only could the US and NATO take control of the Syrian skies, even Israel alone could probably do it. So, assuming the Russians are not suicidal imbeciles, what do you think they should do? If you were Russian, how would you play your cards?
Question 2: do the Russians have advantages of their own?
Absolutely. In fact, they have many advantages over the Americans. Here they are in no particular order: