Monday, January 15, 2007

Syria ramps up its military

The Syrian military has begun revamping its equipment and reorganizing its army, with the aid of Russia and a handful of Iranian cash.

The Syrians are now completing the equipping and formation of two new mechanized divisions, scheduled to be completed by spring. At that point the Syrian army will have 12 divisions– five of which deployed on Israel's border on the Golan.

Two armored divisions are already stationed outside the Syrian towns of Homs and Der’a, the Iranian Republican Guard division 569 is permanently assigned to propping up Basher Assad in Damascus, and one infantry division is posted on the Syrian-Turkish border and another on the Syria-Iraq frontier. The other divisions are posted on the Lebanese border, or held in reserve.

For the new mechanized divisions, modern tanks and tank destroyers are being purchased from Russia. Right now, most of Syria's armor is obsolete Soviet T-54 and T-55 tanks with a sprinkling of the later T-72, which are also relics.

The biggest change is Syria's purchase of the Russian S-300PMU2 FAVORIT air defense system from Russia via Iran. This is the same system the Iranians are getting from the Russians. In Syrian hands, it's capable of targeting Israeli aircraft in Israeli territory or knocking US planes out of the sky launched from a carrier in the Mediterranean. It uses 30N6E2 fire-control radar, a 96L6E target acquisition and designation radar, eight 5P85SE launchers and 48N6E2 missiles with a range of 200km against aircraft and 40 km against ballistic missiles, and can go after six targets simultaneously with 12 missiles.

This is state-of-the-art, extremely expensive hardware with a price tag of $600 million per battery. The Syrians ordinarily couldn't afford it, but thanks to Syria's mutual defense pact with Iran, Assad was able to negotiate the purchase of the system, as well as other arms, on credit.

Assad also took notice of Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and saw Hezbollah using anti-tank rockets successfully against advancing Israeli armored forces regardless of steady Israeli air bombardment.

As a result, anti-tank rockets have been introduced as standard equipment in all units down to company level.

Thanks to its pact with Iran, the Syrians have also received missile technology from Iran, along with a merger of Syrian and Iranian military industries and staff coordination.

In the future, both the US and Israel can count on the Syrians taking a much more aggressive stance.


Anonymous said...

in the fifth para. ff describes what is believed to be the state-of-the-art air defense system for their side.
this is what the russians do.
they build arms/weapons.
talk about a proxy war.
it is not the US/iran as ff says.
it has and always will be USA/roooskies as the proxy war.
the question that goes un-answered for the fifth decade, and is not the subject of ff essay is:
can these people build a washing machine?
those would be consumer goods and there are no consumers in russia. vladimir puken will see to that.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least they don't have nukes...yet.

Rosey said...

Countdown to WW III...or is it IV?

Anonymous said...

You can trust Russia to do everything in their power to prevent Syria and Iran from having substantial nuclear processing capabilities - Putin wants to preserve the advantages Russia has in the industry, and will not willingly or readily give up trade secrets.

At the urging of the United States, the Russians insisted that the Iranians purchase the nuclear fuel from Russian companies and return the spent fuel to Russia for disposal. Now Russia has almost finished building a reactor at Bushehr, but because of the spent-fuel arrangement the Iranians will not be able to get material for nuclear weapons from it.

That means the Bushehr reactor is not a proliferation problem on par with Iran's plant at Natanz. This plant, not Bushehr, is the main problem for the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Syria has always been fragile, and will continue to be so. A minor boost of their conventional forces isn't going to make much of a difference.

The acknowledgment of a proxy war between Russia and America must also take into account that neither nation wants to deal with a nuclear-tipped Iran amidst a sea of paranoid nuclear states in the Gulf in a fragile balance of terror that could very well extend beyond the Middle East - as long as Russia and the US view Iran as a bigger threat than each other; as long as its leaders remember the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 - they know that balance of terror may result in catastrophic annihilation - perhaps a global thermonuclear holocaust.

Putin is much more coldly calculating, devious and rational than Ahmadinejad. You can at least trust him not to bring about a third world war.

Anonymous said...

proxy war essay.
wasn't there something about a riddle inside puzzle inside an enigma........
also, the comments in the essay did not reference directly what is happening to the russian population. the unrest in the various regions and how the tribal/clan social structure is resurgent are only part of the mosaic. the coming islamic/arab segment of the russian population are really going to give a true russo like puken his old age.

Anonymous said...

louielouie, thanks for pointing that part out: I've always wondered when the Islamic fundamentalists in Chechnya would turn its full attention and wrath against the Russian government. Political pressure is mounting from within, and perhaps we will see in Russia what we have witnessed in another authoritarian state in the Middle East: Iran. The students, the bakers have all come out to speak.