December 17, 2015 4 Commentson
Russia's policy of bloody deterrence and intimidation is reaping battlefield victories, and exposing US fecklessness in Syria. President Obama has decided the risk of alienating the Syrian population and providing propaganda fodder for ISIS and other anti-Western organizations outweighs the benefits of a substantive military intervention, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's s opposite strategy moots the theory. Syrians afflicted by foreign military intervention and Islamists capitalizing on it are unlikely to parse their anger according to which foreign power actually caused their losses. Particularly since ISIS bombed a MetroJet airliner on October 31, 2015, killing 224 people, including 219 Russians, the Russian and American campaigns in Syria could not be more different. Russia now operates four forward operating bases in Syria and claims to have flown more than 4,000 sorties and hit 8,000 targets since September 30, 2015 and to have conducted fifty-nine sorties on December 15 alone, hitting 212 targets, killing 321 ISIS fighters and destroying 100 oil facilities. After the MetroJet bombing, Russia also deployed ground forces to Syria for the first time. According to Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.):
Comparable to our own elite fighters of Delta Force, Russian special forces have an operational edge ours do not. While battlefield actions by U.S. forces will, appropriately, always be defined by the laws of land warfare, Russian special forces historically have tossed their moral compass aside. By doing so, they convey a clear message—in blood—to adversaries.