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Russia in Syria: Military Buildup and Implications

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Russia in Syria: Military Buildup and Implications

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Jeffrey White, Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and former DIA analyst, presents this look at the Russian military buildup in Syria. Includes detailed information on order of battle, potential operations and objectives, and military and political implications for the Syrian conflict. For more, watch the panel discussion, Russia's Military Escalation in Syria, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/russias-military-escalation-in-syria

Jeffrey White, Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and former DIA analyst, presents this look at the Russian military buildup in Syria. Includes detailed information on order of battle, potential operations and objectives, and military and political implications for the Syrian conflict. For more, watch the panel discussion, Russia's Military Escalation in Syria, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/russias-military-escalation-in-syria

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Russia in Syria: Military Buildup and Implications

  1. 1. Russia in Syria Military Buildup and Implications Jeffrey White @JeffWhite25 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 1
  2. 2. Reasons • Support the regime • Bolster Russian influence on Syrian situation • Increase Russian role in region • Fight “terrorism” • Divert attention from domestic troubles • Challenge the U.S. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 2
  3. 3. Continuing Build-up • Sea bridge: Landing ships, commercial vessels • Air bridge: – An-124/Condor, IL62, Tu- 154, and IL-76 – RU-IR-IZ-SY route – Masked • Facilities – Expansion of Basel al- Assad Airport – Helicopter base at Istamo – Ports of Latakia and Tartus The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 3 An-124/Condor Inbound Latakia Alligator Class Large Landing Ship Photo courtesy of Yörük Işık, ACTECON International Consulting
  4. 4. Order of Battle • Air – 4 x Su-30 SM/Flanker-C – 12 x Su-24/Flanker – 12 x Su-25/Frogfoot – Attack and transport helos – Yakovlev Pchela-1T Drones – IL-20/Coot intelligence collector – Possible ABN CP • Ground – Elements 810th Naval Infantry Brigade – Possible elements 363rd Naval Infantry Brigade – T-90 tanks – BTR-80 type APCs – Field Artillery – Several thousand troops • Air Defense – SA-22/Greyhound • Presumed C2 structure The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 4 Su-24/Fencer SA-22/Greyhound
  5. 5. Potential Missions • Air – Reconnaissance – Close air support – Strike – Interdiction – Airborne C2 • Ground – Advising – Embedding – Security – Defense – Offense – SF The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 5 Su-25/Frogfoot
  6. 6. Potential Operational Areas • Selective employment • Key targets – Priority enemies – Where regime forces/positions are threatened – Tailored packages • Key areas – Northern Latakia – Northern Hama – Damascus region – Aleppo – Eastern Homs The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 6
  7. 7. Potential Effects on the War • Direct effects: – Provide decisive edge on select battlefields – Increase the ability of regime forces to hold/take key positions and territory – Increase the attrition of opposition forces – Restore the regime’s waning offensive capabilities. • Indirect effects: – Raise the combat effectiveness of regime forces – Raise the morale of regime forces – Depress the morale of opposition forces – Rally Jihadist forces The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 7
  8. 8. Conclusions • Quite capable joint/combined arms force • Russian force tailored for regime support mission • Intended to fight, but cannot fight everywhere at once • Can be expanded with air and sea bridge capabilities • Can have significant effects on the battlefield • Can give Russia a direct role in war’s direction • Can have significant political effects The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 8

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